Here are some good tips from the edmunds.com site/forums on making your car last forever. One thing that really surprised me was extended-time warm-up IDLING is bad? I always thought this was good thing for your engine! Comments?
DRIVE IT FOREVER
Drive it Forever
by Bob Sikorsky
Drive it Forever is a book by Bob Sikorsky that discusses in great detail how to extend the life of an automobile. In particular, how to drive your car "forever" WITHOUT major overhaul or expensive repair. Probably of equal importance as proper regular maintenance are good driving habits.
A few recommendations that are good to follow for everyday driving are to follow. They are paraphrased from memory from the book and my own personal experience. I don't agree with everything in Mr. Sikorsky's book (like the use of oil additives), but for the most part it makes a lot of sense.
1. DON'T warm your car up on cold mornings by letting it idle for an extended period. Start your car, wait a few moments for oil pressure to rise, then drive slowly with minimal throttle for the first few miles. This lets the engine warm up faster and allows fewer contaminants (water, gas, etc) that are abundant in a cold "rich" mixture from entering the crankcase. An engine block heater is highly recommended for cold regions and ungaraged vehicles.
2. Drive conservatively. Don't jackrabbit from one stoplight to the next. And, if you see a red signal or anticipate one by the time you'll reach the intersection, get off the gas and just let the car coast. Let the engine do the braking. It will save gas AND brakes. Not to mention, the heavy-footed folks aren't going to get there any sooner. A lot of people will find this hard to do because traffic around them will get frustrated, honk their horns, and try to pass you. Don't let a few impatient drivers get in the way of making your car last forever.
3. Drive the speed limit. You'll consume less fuel, turn lower engine speeds, and likely arrive within a few minutes of your speeding counterparts. Tires, engine, transmission, differentials will all run at lower temperatures, thus extending life.
4. Think ahead. Cold startups are where engine wear is most severe. Try to combine errands or other trips into one trip. Pickup the dry cleaning, go to the post office, do the grocery shopping, and get gas all in the same outting. He even goes so far as to encourage you to plan your route so that you minimize the number of miles, number of stops, etc. It will save time and your car. We keep our cars in a garage. Sometimes during the day we'll leave the car outside. At night the tendancy is to put the car in the garage, after the engine has cooled down it doesn't make much sense to start the car, move it 20 feet, and then shut the engine down again. Sitting in the night air for a few hours is going to do less harm than starting your engine for those few moments. So, just leave it out there or get in the habit of always putting it in the garage.
I recommend Robert Sikorsky's book to anyone interested in getting the most out of your car with the lowest long-run cost. In essence, the best value. The edition I own talks a lot about carbuerated engines, but the principles are the same (although you may not want to put a manual choke on your fuel injected car). As I said earlier, about the only thing I don't agree with is his advocation of crankcase additives. It probably won't hurt the engine, but I don't think they are neccessary. But, if you follow his recommendations I have no reason to believe that your car - ANY car - can go the distance. (Yugos exlcuded)
He recommends long trips during the break-in period so that the engine, tranny and such are at optimum operating temp.
Gentle driving for the first several thousand miles, early oil change, no hard acceleration or high RPM's on a cold engine.
No full jack rabbit starts and no high revs of the engine in low gears.Of course vary the speed and even on occasion press the gas gradually all the way to the floor from lets say forty,fifty MPH, after getting to the speed limit of 65 or so,gradually again let off the gas back to the beginning speed.(I think many people are not aware of this) It's something I recall hearing as I said years ago and I have never had an engine related problem with my cars.This helps to set the rings in the cylinders the entire lenght of bore and build better compression in the engine. Also while cruising at any speed on occasion take you foot off the gas the allow oil to lube the top of the cylinders. also mentioned, one of the most important things to consider is the initial cold start up in any car (where most of the wear occurs) especially the new car. Don't let it idle long. Count to five or so and start to drive at a slow gradual speed till engine warms up. Also,after any substained long run, to let the car idle for a minute or two. This helps to discipate any heat build up in the engine. Try to do most of the break-in mileage on the highway.
Top Five Ways To Make Your Car Run Forever
By Karl Brauer
Date Posted 11-03-2000
O.K., so right off the bat you know that this title is a bit unrealistic. Obviously there's no way a car can run forever (although those early 60's Plymouth Valiants with the slant-six engine...). You can, however, greatly extend the life of your vehicle, while simultaneously reducing the possibility of mechanical mishaps. The following five items are very rudimentary and apply to all vehicles from a brand new Volkswagen Beetle to the aforementioned Plymouth Valiant. Most of them may seem like common sense but, as you read them, ask yourself how often you actually practice what I'm preaching.
1. FOLLOW YOUR SERVICE SCHEDULE: Obviously this one's a no-brainer, but there are still too many car owners out there who pay little or no attention to their vehicle maintenance schedule as laid out by the manufacturer. This is particularly inexcusable in late model cars that do everything but drive themselves to the dealership at the appropriate time. Between the service indicator lights located in the gauge cluster of many new cars to the lengthy intervals between required service (up to 100,000 miles in some models), there's no reason for skimping on proper maintenance.
2. CHECK FLUIDS AND TIRE PRESSURE REGULARLY: Every car owner (myself included) has been guilty of going too long between vital fluid and tire pressure checks. Here's a task that takes maybe 10 minutes. With a rag in hand and the engine cool you open the hood and pull the oil dipstick. Wipe it clean, re-insert it, and pull it out again for a quick check of the most important engine fluid. Check the radiator overflow reservoir level and the brake cylinder reservoir. Check the power steering fluid level and, while you're at it, check the hoses and belts for any signs of wear or imminent failure. Go ahead and give the air cleaner a look, too. Start the car and after it warms up, check the transmission fluid level. Finally, with the tires cool, use a pressure gauge to make sure each tire has the proper psi according to the owner's manual and/or tire manufacturer. Ideally, this procedure should be done once a week but in the real world once a month would be acceptable (except for tire pressure which really should be checked at least bi-weekly).
3. GO EASY DURING STARTUP: We've all heard the Slick 50 commercials, "Because starting your car is a terrible thing to do." It's actually not that terrible if you follow a few guidelines. First, a cold engine (one that's sat for more than five hours) will have little or no oil left on the moving parts because it has all seeped down into the oil pan. It takes only a few seconds after start-up for the oil pump to adequately lubricate an engine. During those few seconds, however, is when you should keep engine RPMs down to a minimum. How often have you heard (or even been?!) the person who starts his or her car up and immediately floors it? "Helps warm it up," is often the reason given for such behavior. "Helps blow it up," should be your response. Give the engine at least 30 seconds (longer if it has sat for more than 24 hours) before popping it in gear and roaring off. Also, despite the controversy over such products as Slick 50 and synthetic oil, I've had good luck with them. They helped two of my high-strung turbo cars go 100,000+ miles with no major engine problems. For a one time $20 fee (Slick 50) and a slightly higher cost during oil changes (Mobile 1 Synthetic), I feel they're a small investment with big potential returns.
4. USE A SINGLE, HIGH GRADE FUEL: It's tough to justify an extra 20 cents-per-gallon just to get that high octane rating and, if you drive a Cavalier or Neon, it's probably not worth it. Alternatively, if you're tooling around in a 911 Turbo or Viper GTS, using the highest quality fuel available is another small investment that will give big returns on both performance and long-term engine life. Late model, high compression engines have knock sensors and other high-tech devices to theoretically keep them from hurting themselves on today's low-grade gasoline. Do they always work? Probably, but if you own a car like this do you really want to find out the hard way? Also, whether you drive a Viper or Neon, sticking to the same brand of gasoline can reduce the chance of deposits building up within your fuel system.
5. DRIVE SMART: No, I'm not talking D.U.I or B.A.C. (although driving drunk is quite stupid), I'm talking smart from a vehicle longevity standpoint. Look, if you've got a new Camaro Z28 or Mustang Cobra I know you aren't going to ease it away from stoplights and upshift at 3,000 rpm every time you take a spin. Just try not to dump the clutch at seven grand and bounce it off the rev-limiter every time you're out on the town. The same goes for braking and shifting. The occasional speed-shift and panic stop isn't going to hurt anything but a constant "Ricky Roadracer" attitude will take away from potential drive time while greatly adding to vehicle down time. Relax, make a regular check of the gauges (that's what they're there for) and save the enthusiastic stuff for a sanctioned race event or, at the very least, that occasional deserted road. Your car will thank you for it.