Just as we must maintain our personal health with nutritious food, exercise and lowering stress, we must take care of our cars with equal diligence - if we want them to last for a long time.
Here are eleven ways you can preserve the value of your car and keep running costs down.
1. Get a good deal to begin with
If you get a great deal on your vehicle in the first instance, it follows that when you eventually sell your car, your wallet will feel the benefit. Take the time to research options and prices, perhaps enlisting the help of a car-savvy friend. You might even consider a broker or car-buying service.
2. Regular oil changes
Oil is the life-blood of your car. Regular oil changes will prolong the life of your engine and other moving parts. Manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 10,000 miles, but in reality it's better to change it every 3,000 - 3,500 miles - and not more than 5,000. It's a good idea to check your oil on a weekly basis.
3. Choose your parking spot with care
Choose a parking location that does not leave your car vulnerable to vandalism or accidental door dings, bumps and scratches. Park away from other vehicles, but not out of public sight. Avoid parking in areas where other vehicle turn or pass. If you have a garage, park there. If you don't have a garage, try to park in the shade - which will help maintain your paint job.
4. Resolve braking issues immediately
Your car's brake pads will need to be replaced several times over your vehicle's life. Some pads may need to be replaced after just 25,000 miles, others can last for up to 70,000 miles. If your cars braking capacity is reduced at all, visit your local garage to have it fixed.
5. Heed warning lights
In most cases, an illuminated dashboard warning light does indeed mean there is a problem with your car - and you should act accordingly. Visit your local garage promptly. Any delay to repairs could result in a more serious problem - one that could cost you dearly in the long run. When it comes to selling your car, any unresolved mechanical issues will mean a lower price.
6. Drive less
Naturally, the lower the mileage on the clock, the more your car will sell for. For very long family road trips, for example, you could rent a car instead. If friends or family have older, already-depreciated cars, suggest communal trips are taken in those.
7. Find a trustworthy mechanic
It's important to find an experienced, trustworthy mechanic who doesn't inflate repair costs or suggest unnecessary work. Long term, over-large repair bills will add significant sums to your overall running costs. In addition, a good mechanic will spot any problems quickly before they become more serious or hurt the vehicle’s resale value.
8. Protect bump/scratch-prone areas
Consider adding protection to damage-prone areas of your car. The front end, for example, is particularly vulnerable; a clear plastic guard on the front is an option. You could also add carbon fibre tape or black vinyl wrap to other high-risk areas - such as door sills, the areas in front of the rear wheel and the top of the rear bumper.
9. Wash and wax regularly; choose car washes with care
In drier weather, try to clean your car twice a month using special car soap (avoid washing up liquid as this removes wax). In winter, aim to clean your vehicle every week. When it comes to car washes, choose touchless or self-spray services. Avoid washes with twirling/tumbling scrubbers as the final look will be marred - particularly after multiple washes.
10. Oil spray your car's undercarriage
After a long UK winter, your car's undercarriage will have met a good deal of salt, grime and water. By spraying used motor oil to your car’s undercarriage you will minimise rust, which can cause long term damage and reduce your car's resale value. Avoid spraying oil around the engine bay; it’s unnecessary and will make maintenance tasks trickier.
11. Fix dents and scratches quickly
As soon as you spot damage, have it repaired - ideally with a paintless repair service. Dents and scratches could allow rust to form - and will make your car less appealing come resale time.