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No Car Payments = Money In The Bank
by George Adcock
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

George Adcock is the author of three books on financial and estate planning, former editor of The Financial Planner magazine and of Pension World magazine, regular contributor to numerous financial journals.

You finally made your last car payment. You probably have been driving the car for several years, and maybe you really would like a new model.

But hold on. Continuing to drive your existing car means you’re driving free—no car payments. And that is money you can pay off bills with, build up your bank account, and build a good down payment on an eventual new car.

If you have maintained your car well, it has many miles of service left to give you…if you continue to maintain it properly. Now an older car requires a bit more TLC than a new one. If you give it that, it will enable you to put some money in the bank.

Here are some maintenance steps that will keep that vehicle purring along for several years.

1. If you haven’t already been doing so, start using synthetic motor oil. Synthetics don’t break down as quickly as regular oil, and so protect the engine better, and they are ‘slicker.’ It is possible that once you start using synthetics, the car may burn oil for a few weeks until the engine gets broken in to the new formulation, so check your oil every week until you see that that is not happening. Then of course check your oil once a month.

2. Your maintenance schedule may have called for an oil change every 5000 miles, maybe even longer. With an older car, revert to the old tradition and make it every 3000 miles. And of course use the weight recommended.

3. By the same token, the maintenance schedule may have called for you to change the oil filter every other oil change. Now change it every oil change. Dirty oil in the filter can completely negate the good you do with just an oil change.

4. There’s another important filter you need to pay attention to—the air filter. A dirty, clogged air filter can seriously damage the engine. Check the air filter every three months—more often if you drive in dusty conditions. You can easily see if it’s dirty and getting clogged.

5. There’s another important filter you need to change periodically. That’s the fuel filter. If it’s clogged, it can cause trouble starting and poor engine performance which eventually could result in engine problems. Change it once a year, even if it’s supposed to be a ‘forever’ filter.

6. Filters are a big item. There’s also a transmission fluid filter. That should be changed every two years or 25,000 miles. And of course, the transmission fluid must be changed every so often, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

7. Another thing to do on older cars is keep the rubber well lubricated—the window seals, etc—with a rubber and vinyl protectant.

8. Finally, keep a check on the engine belts—the timing and serpentine belts. Look for cracks and signs of wear. Replace them if they seem overly worn. If a timing belt breaks it can ruin the engine.

Published: Jul 22,2008 10:27
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