The true cost of car ownership is greater than most people suspect. But you can get more life out your vehicle, can reduce your cost per mile, by following a few simple suggestions. eHow offers twelve tips to extend the life of your car.

  1. Change the oil regularly. If you’re frugal and handy, do it yourself. Otherwise pay somebody to do it every few thousand miles. (Check your owners manual for recommended intervals.) See also: Is the 3,000-mile oil change a scam?
  2. Change the air filter. Incredibly simple for even the most inept of mechanics.
  3. Flush the fluids every two years.
  4. Flush the cooling system every two years.
  5. Monitor your brake pad thickness. And remember: Squealing brakes don’t always signify the need to change brake pads. (Mine squeal when cold or wet.)
  6. Rotate the tires. Check your manual for recommended intervals.
  7. Keep the tires inflated properly. Check your tire pressure at least every month. It’s easy, and can save you gas money and wear on your vehicle.
  8. Keep the front end aligned. If your car shakes at high speeds, have the alignment checked.
  9. Start slowly, especially when the car is cold. Slow acceleration not only saves gas, but it’s also good for your vehicle.
  10. Use your parking brake. Yes, your automatic transmission will keep your car from rolling. Your transmission will last longer, though, if you use the parking brake. (Thanks to GRS-reader, Rich, for the correction!)
  11. Wash your car. A clean car is less susceptible to corrosion.
  12. Read your owners manual.

For more detail on these twelve steps, and for additional tips, check out the entire article.

[via lifehacker]

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