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Prolonging Your Car’s Lifespan

4 min read
Ways to make sure it lasts into the next COE cycle.

The hard truth is that Singapore is an expensive place to own a car. The amount we pay to buy, own and upkeep our rides will make any foreigner’s jaw drop. So when your car is about to hit the big 10-year mark, you have to make the calculated choice of either buying a new car or renewing the COE on your existing one.

If you decide to renew the COE, be it for a five- or 10-year extension, make sure your ride will serve you well into the next COE cycle. Do your best to keep your car in shape so you’d have fewer problems down the road. Extend your car’s lifespan with these tips so it serves you well into the renewed COE period.

With an older car, one of the main issues will be worn-out parts, even if your car is operating fine. Cheap replica parts, while they save you money, can be more trouble than they are worth — the old adage of “you get what you pay for” holds true. Go for OEM parts instead, where the quality and material grade are often superior, and made according to official manufacturing and quality-control standards. With replica parts, you may experience premature failure that may cost you even more eventually. If the cost of new OEM parts is too much for you to bear, consider refurbished ones, but source them from reliable or recommended workshops.

A word of caution for those who own cars that

  • are no longer represented or sold here; or
  • have a small buyer base:

There will be limited stockists and workshops with the necessary car replacement parts as the years roll on; however, the more common your car model, the easier it is to find parts.

The level and interval of maintenance of your car doesn’t just depend on age alone. Your driving style and how you treat your car are also determining factors. If you drive aggressively, parts such as the brake pads, brake system and the tyres will wear out faster.

As your car accumulates mileage, wear and tear will naturally occur. There are certain auto parts you should look into in an older car as you embark on its next life cycle:

Belts The serpentine and timing belts can last quite long, but going beyond 10 years, do have them checked and replaced, if necessary. If either one of them snaps, you will be in for a hefty repair bill.

Brake pads These will wear out more quickly on an older car, but your driving style or the traffic conditions (eg the stop-start city conditions) you normally drive in will have an impact on the wear as well.

Brake system This system consists of — among other things — the brake calipers, wheels, and master cylinders. These can last quite long — about 160,000km or more — but will eventually succumb to internal corrosion and deterioration. If you find that the brake fluid leaks or that the steering wheel vibrates when you depress the brake pedal, be sure to have a reliable workshop check on it.

Battery Normally, batteries can last about 1.5 to 2 years or more, depending on the quality of battery, maintenance and driving habits. But as your car ages, the efficiency may fluctuate, so keep watch out for tell-tale signs, such as start-up problems or dimming headlights.

Alternator This charges the battery and powers your car’s electrical system. With cars more dependent on even more electrical features — such as smart screens, car cameras, and more — this high usage shortens the alternator’s life. If you suffer from poor connections or intermittent electrical feed, have a certified car technician do a proper diagnose to determine if you need to have it replaced.

Engine sensors Accumulated time and mileage can cause some sensors to fail or produce erratic readings. If your sensor is failing, the ‘Check Engine’ light will be activated.  Get your car checked as soon as possible.

If you want to keep your car for longer, it is important to keep up with its maintenance and upkeep. The older the car, the higher the chance of it breaking down, and the more you need to be aware of the subtle and not-so-subtle signs of an impending breakdown.

If you’re in the market for a second-hand car, don’t be taken in by how shiny and well maintained it appears on the surface! All the moving parts under the bonnet should be checked out.

Looking for an assessment of your second-hand car? Book an appointment with AA Singapore’s Car Evaluation Service team. With all the right equipment to check every possible car part, this service provides an unbiased and comprehensive evaluation report (not just a simple check list), helping you to make a more informed buying decision.

Even better, AA Members enjoy a discount! Click here for more details.

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