Personal Finance

3 Tips for Maintaining an Older Car on A Budget

Driving an older car is the reality for the average college student. Here are a few tips that can help you to get by a little more smoothly with an older vehicle.

For any of these tips that involve getting your hands dirty, be warned that there are always risks when it comes to dealing with fluids and crawling underneath a giant heavy chunk of metal on wheels.

1. Change Your Own Oil in an Older Car

This one kind of depends on how high off the ground your vehicle is. If you have a truck or something like I did when I was in school, then it should be pretty easy to crawl underneath to take care of things like changing the oil.

If your car is too low to the ground, you may need to jack it up in order to crawl underneath. That can be dangerous and not worth saving the $30 or $40 dollars. If you’re feeling it, though, this can be an interesting experience.

2. Make Your Own Floor Mat Cleaner

Anyone who has owned an old car knows that most of them could use some good floor mat cleaner to get all the dirt and gunk out. After years of getting pummeled by driver and passengers shoe, most car floors and their mats are pretty gross.

They end up getting mud, dirt, dog poop, salt and who knows what else tracked in on them. While buying floor mat cleaner for your car isn’t terribly expensive, you can also make it pretty easily.

Just take a quarter cup of dish washing detergent and 2 gallons of water at room temperature or warm. Mix those two things together and use a scrub brush like this Turtle Wax Upholstery Brush to apply it to the floor mats and other dirty parts of the upholstery.

While you’re down there cleaning, make sure to grab the 10 year old McDonald’s French fries between the seats, too.

3. Regularly Check Fluids in Your Older Car

As cars age, they can start to leak certain things. It’s always important to check on things like your oil and coolant levels to make sure that they’re where they should be. The car has dipsticks with indicators of what the level should be.

The toughest part is making sure that your hood is securely propped up. There should be a rod located near the front of the car laid across where your hood latches. I’ve seen some people use a wooden board as well.

Tying It All Together

Personally, I liked driving an older car back in college. The style, how cheap it was up-front, everything. Even crawling underneath to fix a leaking pipe leading to my gas tank was a great experience. If you are the average college student and you drive an older car, consider handling your own oil changes, topping up fluids, and keeping things clean on the inside.

Bob Buckley

Bob Buckley writes about food and business.