How To: Maintain an Older Car

Broken cars and stubborn owners

Driving any older car is like working out at the gym after a one-month hiatus: you discover parts that you didn't even know existed.

With age comes a number of small hassles that you need to spot and identify. How? By grabbing the steering wheel and shift knob, feeling and toying with the pedals, experiencing how the car handles, listening to all the different sounds and noises, taking a good sniff, and testing the comfort of the interior.

In this new series of features, we'll explore how wear and tear can affect a vehicle, how anybody can recognize the warning signs, and more importantly what you can do in terms of maintenance and repair when your favourite mechanic isn't around to take care of all your horses.

Every month I keep finding and learning new things on my battered old 1996 Honda Civic, yet I stubbornly stick with it - after all, I stopped making monthly payments a long, long time ago. I've become more and more familiar with its inner workings and, quite frankly, the replacement bits are pretty cheap!

With an annual budget of $1,000 and some expertise with wrenches and pliers, I manage to keep it in fair shape. Add $150 for car insurance, and I can practically see my wallet smiling and laughing, especially since a brand new compact would relieve me of anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 a year.

Call it a clunker if you want, but I love my Civic! And it inspires me every time I write an article about mechanical problems.

Looking forward to reading your comments and stories!

1996 Honda Civic

Photo: Marie-Andrée Ayotte/

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