Taking Care of an Old Friend

Throughout our lives, we on occasion build a relationship that is satisfying, meaningful, and mutually beneficial. True friends are hard to come by and sometimes even harder to hold onto. However, if you are careful and treat your friend well and do not abuse her, you can look forward to many happy years together. It is all about really caring and doing what is right when it is needed no matter the cost. If you do that, good things will happen. You and your car will have a long and satisfying relationship.

Who doesn’t have a picture tucked away with them proudly situated in front of a bright, shiny car, a beaming smile of happy ownership spread across their face? How many weekends have been spent washing and polishing and spiffing-up that old friend, meticulously cleaning every inch inside and out? How may oil changes done exactly at 3000 miles just as the owner’s manual states? A car – especially a first car or one that you have lovingly owned for many years – is deserving of and generally receives your unwavering care and attention. That is what you do for a good friend.

Now with your retirement and a focus on maintaining costs, what better a time to keep that baby going healthy and strong. Not just pride of ownership, but a genuine retirement budget plus.

Still going strong

The Bay Area News Group recently announced that 100,000 miles is no longer the “death knell” for your car. “It was once a huge red flag: When a car’s odometer would hit 100,000, it was almost a magic threshold that meant the car was probably worn out”. Today, with regular checkups and computerized testing tools, new synthetic oil, high performance gas, higher quality tires, protective waxes and polishes, your car can be with you for a long, long time. And what a good old friend:

  • No monthly payments
  • Classic car that looks great and you look great driving
  • Virtually no registration fee
  • Maybe even runs on regular gas!

Taking care of that friend

With a little attentiveness on your part as to how your car is running, some preventative maintenance to cover the basic needs,  and some tender loving care, you will save money on major repairs and truly enjoy your four-wheeled-friend.

1)    Find your owner’s manual and heed it – guidelines on regular checkups, when to replace parts that are likely to be wearing out, all the important details. If you cannot find your original manual, there are places on-line to either download or pay for a copy. Here is a site for more recent models (1990 and onward) offering some help. eHow offers some additional ideas for older models including going back to the original dealership, calling a junkyard, or checking on eBay.

2)    Cars can be thirsty so be sure to keep an eye on important fluids – oil, engine coolant, automatic transmission, brake fluid – keep them filled and clean, flushing when recommended in your owner’s manual. Today’s synthetic oils will lube the engine better and are designed for a longer life.

3)    Don’t fill up when you see a tanker at the station – dumping hundreds of gallons of gas can stir up sediment in the tank that will do your engine no good. Come back tomorrow.

4)    Regular oil changes – just like when your friendship first started.

5)    Keep your tire pressure where it is supposed to be – this helps assure better, more even wear of tires as well as maximum mileage. Check tires when they are cold for accurate measurement.

6)    Regular inspection – just like you, an annual preventative inspection can help find problems early before they escalate into something more serious. And not just one of those fast lube places but go to a mechanic that can put the car on a rack and check all major components. A trusted mechanic is in fact similar to a trusted doctor so when you find one, hang on.

7)    As soon as you feel something wrong, an unknown sound from the engine, unfamiliar vibrations, when something smells like it is burning, or when any engine warning lights come on, get it checked out.

The saying goes that friends are forever. Maybe not FOREVER, but with a little care and attention, well beyond 100,000 miles…


Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.