Purchasing used cars is sometimes defined as buying someone else’s problems. But today’s vehicles are more reliable and require less maintenance than those of the past, so many used cars are still in pretty good shape after a few years of driving. And if you buy from a dealership that has its own service center, your chances of encountering serious issues are greatly diminished.
Remember when it was a normal part of maintenance that you had to change your oil every 3000 miles? In the last three decades, there have been significant changes in oil technology, so that old rule no longer applies for the vast majority of vehicles.
It’s still important to have the wheel alignment checked approximately every 6000 miles. If you combine it with your visits for an oil change, you’ll be on track with the schedule that experts recommend. Rotate your tires every 7500 miles as well, unless the vehicle manufacturer specifies otherwise.
One thing that’s especially important on used cars is examining the belts and hoses. If they’re worn, replace them. Studies show that almost 20% of vehicles have at least one belt or hose that’s in unsatisfactory condition. And failure of either of those vital components can result in a breakdown. Pay particular attention to the timing belt, which is typically in need of replacement between 60,000 and 90,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to be sure.
And don’t forget to pay attention to the brakes before they get to the point where they’ve become less effective or even unsafe. Look for excessive wear on disc brake pads and replace them before they begin to cut into the metal rotors. Make sure your brake fluid reservoir is filled to the proper level. Brakes can be expected to last from 25,000 to 50,000 miles.
Finally, don’t forget the exterior. You can help to protect painted surfaces from erosion due to oxidation and contaminates by applying a coat of wax at least twice a year. If you opt for the dealer’s extra protection treatment when you buy the vehicle, remember that it’s not a permanent solution.