9 Things That Can Shorten the Lifespan of Your Car and Depreciate Its Value Faster

Waist up portrait of two car mechanics looking under hood of car in auto repair workshop, copy space.
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A vehicle purchase can be one of the costliest expenses you make, new or used. You’ll want to do everything you can to keep your car in its best shape not only so that you can rely upon its use, but so that when you’re ready to move on from it, you can sell it.

GOBankingRates spoke to car experts who explained 10 important things that can shorten the lifespan of your car and depreciate its value faster. Read to find out which mistakes you’re making so you can correct them.

Neglecting Maintenance

Cars may be built to last, but that’s only if they are regularly maintained.

John Lin, owner and mechanic at JB Motor Works said, “Regular oil changes, tire rotations, brake inspections, etc., should never be overlooked. Delaying or avoiding these can lead to serious damage over time.”

Bad Driving Habits 

If you’re rough on the road and push your car to its max, you may be doing it harm. Aggressive driving behaviors such as hard braking, speeding and rapid acceleration can cause undue wear and tear on the vehicle, Lin explained.

He added, “A smoother, more careful driving style can extend the [car’s] lifespan and maintain its value.”

Excessive Mileage 

People seeking to purchase used cars are always looking for those that are low in mileage. With the average annual mileage around 13,500, Lin said, “Consistently exceeding this can depreciate the car’s value quickly.”

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If you’re putting on excess miles, maybe it’s time to look into other modes of transportation such as trains, planes or carpooling.

Improperly Executed DIY Fixes

“As admirable as the DIY spirit is, not every job is a weekend warrior’s task,” said Jason Farrell, a certified master technician at Mechanic’s Diary.

For example, trying to save a few bucks by rewiring your car’s sound system could result in electrical issues that could not only compromise the vehicle’s performance, but also its resale value, he explained.

“It’s okay to admit when something’s out of your league. If a DIY project makes you scratch your head, maybe it’s time to ask around or consider bringing in a pro. Trust me, your car and bank account will be grateful later,” Farrell said.

Overexposure to the Elements

Extreme weather conditions can affect the exterior and interior of the car, Lin said. “Too much heat can trigger deterioration on the body paint while extreme cold can affect the engine’s functionality.”

Farrell agrees with Lin, adding that the sun’s ultraviolet rays, specifically, can wreak havoc on your car’s paint job and interiors, making it age before its time.

If you can’t park in a garage, “seek shade or invest in a good car cover, if possible,” Farrell advised. “It’s a small investment that goes a long way in preserving your car’s aesthetics,” especially for those living in harsher conditions.

Fixing the Engine but Ignoring the Car 

Contrary to popular belief, more than just the engine matters, said Farrell.

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“A vehicle’s overall well-being results from meticulous attention to various components, both big and small. Remember, the little things distinguish between an average car and a well-maintained one.”

Overlooking the Cabin Filters

Most people are diligent about engine air filters, but not necessarily their cabin filters, Farrell explained.

“They might seem inconsequential, but these filters, when clogged, force your car’s AC system to work overtime, reducing efficiency and increasing wear. So, make a little note to check on these cabin filters during regular car check-ups.”

Constantly Running the AC

Your car AC runs on a small amount of fuel in order to work, explained John Wilmot, Founder and CEO of the car lease comparison site LeaseLoco.

“Therefore,” he said, “it’s inevitable that the fuel consumption will increase when you’re using it… by as much as 10%, so it pays to use the system wisely in order to get the most mileage out of each tank.”

To improve fuel efficiency, especially during hot weather, consider relying on the vehicle’s ventilation system or open your windows at lower speeds and save the AC for higher speeds or when it’s absolutely necessary, Wilmot suggested.

Keeping Your Car Running When Parked

If you’re waiting for a spouse in a store, a kid to get out of sports practice or any other reason, you may be wasting unnecessary gas (and also polluting the environment), Wilmot said.

By switching off your car, you’re able to “avoid unnecessary fuel consumption by running the engine whilst you’re parked up and wasting your hard-earned money.”

An idling engine affects the overall longevity of the vehicle by increasing the wear and tear on the engine’s components. It also releases harmful pollutants and particulate matter, which affects air quality and the health of the people around you.

Wilmot said, “it’s important to switch off in order to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable environment.”

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