Your car gets your kids to school and practice. It gets you to work, the gym and the grocery store. And at the end of a long day, it gets you home.
We Americans rely heavily on our cars. The U.S. Census Bureau states that in 2011, more than 6.5 million workers drove themselves an hour or more each way to and from work. Add to that social outings and shopping trips, and you’re looking at millions of people who are in their cars for more than 10 hours a week. That’s more than an entire workday—every week.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we Americans are also really good at keeping our vehicles in working condition. And no, we’re not just talking about classic cars like a 1957 Chevy Nomad or a 1959 Metropolitan convertible. We’re also talking about more common rides like a 1998 Subaru Legacy or a 1995 Ford F-150—or any other vehicle that doesn’t qualify as “new.” Interestingly, research and consulting firm Polk found that in 2013, the average age of cars on the roads was 11.4 years, up from an average 10 years old before the recession. A possible reason for this change is simple: People are still recovering financially, and some are wary of investing in new cars when they’re not sure what the future holds.
Fortunately, in the country that brought us Ford and General Motors, there’s plenty of knowledge on how to keep vehicles in tip-top shape. In short, it requires maintenance, maintenance and more maintenance. What follows is a list of some important things to keep in mind.
There’s no science to keeping older cars healthy: just attention and maintenance. Keep the above points in mind and remember: if you hear anything rattling, whining or scraping that shouldn’t, get your vehicle to a garage as soon as possible. That way, you can count on your wheels to get you home safely for many years to come.