Car maintenance is tough to keep up with regularly with so many other things going on in your life. But couple that with an aging automobile, and it becomes even harder.

However, to keep your older vehicle out of the shop, you can follow a few simple tips. It’ll keep your car running smooth and give you time for the more important things in life.

Don’t Overheat

The main components of a car’s cooling system are the water pump and radiator. So be sure to inspect them on a regular basis. The water pump emanates a pancake syrup smell when it’s about to wear out, so trust your nose if the car starts to smell like an IHOP. Check the radiator for any cracks, too. And most importantly, make sure all the hoses that transport coolant have been replaced in the recent past. These hoses hold scorching hot liquid, so they tend to develop leaks and malfunction faster than the other components.

Keep the Oil Changed

Keeping the oil, the lifeblood of the car changed on a regular basis will keep the vehicle running smoothly. If you are lax on this, the lack of lubrication can cause severe damage to the engine. By adhering to a change every 3,000 miles, your old car will thank you.

Leave it to the Professionals

While many do-it-yourselfers prefer to do all their own maintenance, aging cars suffer from more acute problems. Such problems should be handled by people who are experts in car repair. Though it can be hard to let another person touch your baby, you need to let go. That’s what mechanics are trained to do; fix things beyond your abilities. If you absolutely must do the work yourself, have the proper tools such as a screwdriver, wrench, pliers, and even a few specialty items such as an oil filter wrench or even a low capacity torque sensor to test your car’s performance.

Don’t Ignore¬†Your Dashboard’s Warning Signs

Dashboard warning lights are there for a reason – to alert you that something is wrong with your car. If you see a check engine light, an oil pressure light, or brake light, pull over immediately. These usually are the problems that pose a safety threat to your engine or to others. The oil pressure light is especially dangerous, as the engine can only run for a few minutes before succumbing to the problem. If you see the warning lights, don’t ignore them.

Fix Problems Early to Avoid Costly Repairs

At the first sign of imminent danger, have your car checked. Rattles, bumpy rides, and other noises are a surefire way of knowing when to take the car into the shop. By fixing the problem at first sign, you can avoid the costly repairs from the problem growing worse. And thus, keep your car running longer.

Bonus Tip: Exercise When Your Car Isn’t Necessary

Short trips are often hard on older vehicles because the engine doesn’t get up to its full operating temperature, which allows moisture to remain in the engine and exhaust system. This can contribute to rusting. As you know, older vehicles can eventually perish due to this oxidation. So, do something good for yourself and your car. Walk or ride a bike on those trips under 2 miles. Your body and your car will be thankful.

By following just a few simple rules, your car can last as long as you want. Routine maintenance tends to be the key to keeping an older car on the road. So, if you want your car to last as long as you do, don’t be stingy with its care. Its life depends on you as much as you depend on it.