Making your car last as long as possible becomes even more critical when you’re retired and living on a fixed income. According to the Census Bureau, median income in 2004 for households occupied by seniors (65 and older) was $24,500. Most owned one vehicle. Even if you saved enough for a comfortable retirement, buying a new car would put a severe dent in your savings. So here are a few reminders to help you get the most mileage from the one you own.
When tires lose air, they wear out faster and use more gas. If you don’t know how to check your tire pressure, yes, there is a youtube video, with captions, that will take you through the process step by step.
Experts recommend you check tire pressure monthly and rotate tires around every 6,000 miles to help prevent uneven tread wear.
Ideally, you already go to the same service center for routine maintenance and any problems. It’s helpful to have a mechanic who knows the history of your car.
No doubt you know that regular oil changes, typically every 3,000 miles, can keep your engine running smoothly. If your service center doesn’t already put a sticker on your windshield to remind you when the next change is due, ask for one. Don’t forget to have the air filter and coolant level checked regularly as well.
A Readers Digest article that covers 74 car care tips recommends that you don’t rev your engine after you turn on the ignition and don’t let your car idle in the driveway. Both result in needless strain on parts of the engine. To alleviate wear on your ignition switch from a heavy load of keys, keep your car key separate.
You may have more spare time now for errands but you can give your car (and gas tank) a break by planning ahead and making fewer trips.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for an emergency by storing jumper cables, a small shovel and blanket in the trunk. If you don’t belong to Triple A, you can enter the phone number for a towing service in your cell phone.
A clean car inside and out will look good longer. Waxing in the spring and fall helps protect the finish from summer sun and winter cold. Remove interior clutter so you have a clear view behind the wheel.
If you plan an extended stay with relatives or a long vacation without your car, you want to store it properly. Ask your service center how to disconnect the battery and fill up the tank before you leave.
Good brakes are a must, especially as your reaction time slows. The Smart Motorists Web site states that, “Around the age of 65, drivers face an increased risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. After the age of 75, the risk of driver fatality increases sharply.” Quoting the Senior Journal of the Census Bureau, “The archetypical elderly driver fatality involves a belted, sober driver pulling into the path of an oncoming vehicle during the day and dying several days after a collision of moderate severity. Pre-existing health issues are often related to the death.” That should remind you that in addition to keeping your car in good shape, keep yourself safe on the road so you can be driving for many Mays to come: Older Americans Month in case you didn’t know.