Regular maintenance and a reliable auto mechanic are two crucial elements to keeping your car on the road for as long as possible.

4 ways to lengthen your car’s life

Advancements in medicine and improved lifestyles are helping people maintain their well-being for longer periods of time. And by the same token, quality craftsmanship and basic car maintenance – implemented by owners – have more vehicles aging gracefully, a new survey suggests.

“The average age length of ownership is 79.3 months.”

Each year, analytics firm IHS produces a report, detailing the average age of automobiles that are presently on the roads. In 2016, it was 11.6 years, up slightly from 2015. Indeed, for well over a decade, the average age of light vehicles has remained the same or risen, never retreating.

Motorists are also holding onto their cars for longer stretches. The average length of ownership currently is 79.3 months, an increase of 1.5 months from this time last year, the report detailed.

“[The] quality of new vehicles continues to be a key driver of the rising average vehicle age over time,” said Mark Seng, IHS Markit director of the firm’s automotive aftermarket division.

But what’s also enabling motorists to keep their cars going strong extra long is quality care. By treating their vehicles well, car owners are avoiding the high costs associated with repairs and may be better able to maintain their low-cost auto insurance, as used vehicles tend to have more affordable premiums than brand-new models.

If you want to help your car go the extra mile, these tips should give it the boost it needs:

Perform routine maintenance checks

An automobile is like most other possessions: The more it’s used, the more tender loving care it needs to remain resilient. Make sure you routinely perform some of the basic car maintenance tasks:

  • Change the oil every 5,000 to 7,000 miles.
  • Rotate the tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
  • Regularly inspect the engine’s belts and hoses – you’ll know something is awry if the belts are frayed or bulging. They may also make a squealing sound, which suggests they need to be tightened.

Look, smell, and listen

Virtually every one of the five senses come in handy as a car owner, and you should be sure to use them whenever you go out for a spin or are headed to work. For example, if on the highway you find that the car is listing left or right, it’s a good indication the tires are out of alignment. This may not seem like a huge issue, but it could increase the risk of an auto insurance claim if you veer into the wrong lane. Additionally, if you detect a strong motor oil smell, a leak in the underbelly of the car may be the issue. Also, turn down the radio’s volume and listen to your car’s “voice.” Should the brakes squeal or hiss, it may be time to have the pads replaced. Check with your mechanic to be sure.

Your mechanic's expertise may affect how long you have your vehicle around for. Your mechanic’s expertise may affect how long you have your vehicle around for.

Use a reliable mechanic or auto repair service

Speaking of which, few service providers are more invaluable than a trustworthy mechanic. These “engine magicians” have an uncanny ability to diagnose the source of car trouble, or even detect issues before they come to fruition. Just as friends can serve as great resources for finding a good auto insurance company, turn to them for repair person recommendations as well. The Car Care Council says there are at least six questions you should be sure to ask to determine who’s the best match. Among them is if an estimate is provided, if the mechanic is certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, and details on the cleanliness of the facility, particularly in the waiting area where customers come and go.

“Consider working from home more often to cut down on your mileage.”

Reduce your miles traveled

Everyone has places to go and people to see. In fact, in 2016, motorists in the U.S. drove a whopping 3.2 trillion miles, a new record high, according to the Federal Highway Administration. In December alone, motorists accumulated more than 263.6 billion miles, a 5% increase from the same month in 2015.

If possible, try to consolidate how many trips you take in the average day. For example, you might want to consider working from home more often or taking public transportation as an alternative. This will reduce the wear and tear that builds over time, and it may also help you land cheap auto insurance quotes. Miles traveled is one of several variables used to determine premiums.

By implementing these simple maintenance measures, you can help ensure your car is in it for the long haul.