Vehicles are made to last a lot longer than one might imagine. What makes a difference between a rusty old clunker and a 20-year-old car in showroom condition is how the owner decides to care for the car. With many of us are keeping our cars well beyond 10 years and 100,000 miles, it’s time to learn how to get the most life from our Toyotas.

Follow these tips to keep your car running at its best well into the next decade!

Be Extra Gentle During The Break-In Period

If you are buying a new car, you are a great advantage when it comes to the long-term performance of your vehicle. It might be a natural reaction to “test” your new vehicle when you get behind the wheel after you bought it, but you should wait on that.

The break-in period refers to the first 1,000 miles the vehicle is driven. This is a vital time for new components. During this time, keep the speed under 75 mph (for at least the first 700 miles) and RPMs under 3,500 for the first 500 miles. Then ease into testing new waters with your vehicle’s performance. Also follow this procedure after engine rebuilds, clutch changes, and other major mechanical work.

Let It Warm-Up

Jumping in your car and driving off right away doesn’t give it enough time to properly warm-up. Sure on some warmer days, it might not matter as much, but if it’s cooler out, it will. Give your vehicle enough time to reach operating temperature before taking off. This will give the valvetrain enough time to loosen up and get lubed up before being put under load, which keeps the components from being brittle and weak. If you can’t sit and wait, just drive gently for the first five minutes or so.

Drive Easy

If you want your vehicle to last a long time, you need to be aware of your driving habits and adjust them if you need to. From the way you steer to your speeding habits to how aggressively you shift gears, it all has an impact on your vehicle in one way or another. Take it easy and go through the motions “slowly” — shift slowly, accelerate slowly, and don’t jerk the vehicle around.

Lighten The Load

With the exception of trucks, the lighter the cargo load, the better. Cars are not designed to tow or haul excess weight. They do not have the torque, power, or suspension configuration to handle large loads. Consult your owner’s manual to find out exactly how much your vehicle can handle.

Handle Maintenance And Repairs Like a Pro

When it comes to routine maintenance, it’s important to understand how necessary it is. While you might have to come out of pocket for this work, you’ll actually end up saving a lot of money in the long run. Change oil on time, rotate tires, flush the transmission, you know the deal.

Most routine maintenance will prevent damages that require repairs, but they’re bound to happen. When it does come time to replace or repair parts, it’s best to get three estimates from reputable shops before choosing a mechanic. Also, make sure the parts that go into your Toyota are indeed genuine Toyota parts.

Additional Tips

Here are some other quick tips for prolonging the life of your car:

  • Shift into low gear in stop-and-go traffic to save your brakes
  • Keep the tank above 1/4 full — an almost empty tank can increase the chances of water or dirt getting into the fuel system
  • Store the car in a garage, if possible
  • Check your tires, brakes, and fluids often

With these simple tips, you can prolong the life of your vehicle without spending too much time watching over it. Being a good car owner is the best way to have a good car that will last as long as possible.