If you own a high-mileage vehicle, you know it requires more extensive maintenance than a newer car or truck. And while you might think you should focus solely on maintaining the internal working components, the exterior of an older vehicle requires the same level of care and protection.

At Minnetonka Collision, we want you to get as many years as you possibly can out of your vehicle. And to help you do that, we specialize in comprehensive auto body repair and maintenance services for automobiles of all types. But professional body repairs and maintenance may not ever be necessary if you’re diligent about caring for the exterior of your car or truck.

What does diligent care involve? Read on for our top tips on maintaining the exterior of your high-mileage vehicle.

1. Check for Rust
Every winter, approximately 365,000 tons of salt are applied to Twin Cities roadways. While you certainly know salt is necessary to prevent slippery streets and auto accidents, you might not know that it can wreak havoc on the undercarriage of your high-mileage vehicle.

Since your undercarriage—along with the rest of your vehicle—has likely been exposed to tons of salt over the course of several years, its potential for rust development is high. That’s especially true if you’re not diligent about washing your vehicle regularly.

Rust not only compromises the operating components of your vehicle, but it can also cause auto body damage that leaves your vehicle looking haggard. To prevent rust from damaging your vehicle, make sure you wash it once per week during the winter, and regularly examine the body panels for oxidation.

Check out How to Protect Your Vehicle From Rust This Winter for more helpful info.

2. Keep Your Vehicle’s Exterior Clean
Washing your vehicle frequently is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to maintain its paint job. That’s true for any automobile—not just high-mileage vehicles.

If you don’t keep your vehicle’s paint job clean, its clear coat may begin to bubble, chip, or even peel away from the pigmented paint. If that happens, you’ll likely notice isolated sections of exposed base coat, most likely on areas of your vehicle that get the most exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Unfortunately, bubbling and peeling clear coat will only get worse if you don’t take your car or truck to an auto body shop that can color match the paint and fix the isolated damage. If the clear coat deterioration gets bad enough, a body shop may even recommend that you have the entire vehicle repainted. That way, they can ensure consistent pigmentation throughout its exterior.

3. Apply Wax Regularly
If you’re like a lot of drivers, you might think of wax as a superfluous addition to your car-washing routine. But that line of thinking is a big mistake, especially if you own a high-mileage vehicle.

Why? Because wax really does protect the exterior of your ride. Not only does it help prevent the clear coat and base coat from separating, but it also protects the paint from salt- dirt- and UV-related deterioration. If your vehicle’s paint job is several years or even decades old, it can definitely benefit from any additional protection you can give it.

How often should you wax? There’s no definitive timeline for applying exterior protectant. You can do it as often as you see fit. If your vehicle is routinely exposed to the elements—as in, you park outdoors or frequently drive on salted or dirt roadways—it’s a good idea to wax your ride every two to three months.

If you park in a covered, controlled area (a residential garage, parking garage, etc.) you probably won’t need to apply wax quite so often. Some older vehicles do just fine with as little as two annual wax applications, while others need four or more applications per year.

4. Reduce the Frequency of Short Trips
Short trips are tough on your vehicle because they don’t allow your engine to reach its ideal operating temperature, especially when it’s cold outdoors. When you make numerous short trips each week, condensation can form in the exhaust system and engine.

When moisture accumulates, your vehicle is much more likely to develop damaging rust. Plus, when water mixes with your engine oil, that oil can no longer provide the lubrication necessary to support engine operation.

To avoid engine and rust problems, try to reduce short trips by combining your work commute and errands into one long trip.

5. Fix Fender Bender Damage
If you have an older vehicle, you may be tempted to let minor auto body damage sit, but that’s a terrible idea. Even a minor fender bender can damage various internal components of your vehicle, and you may not be able to detect that damage without a comprehensive inspection. Some of the most common parts that suffer fender bender-related damage include:

● Electrical system
● Frame damage
● Alignment issues
● Transmission problems

Because the internal components of a high-mileage vehicle have already experienced considerable wear, it is imperative that you have your vehicle examined after a minor collision. Minor body panel dents can also leave your automobile vulnerable to rust development, so it’s in your best interest to take your ride to an auto body repair shop promptly.

Got a couple of minor dents? Check out what you should know about paintless dent repair (PDR) and why it might be the best technique for fixing that damage.

Need a Reliable Auto Body Repair Team in the Twin Cities?
At Minnetonka Collision, we’re dedicated to keeping your vehicle in top condition so that you can drive it as long as possible. Taking care of a high-mileage vehicle requires constant diligence, and we’re here to help. Whether you need auto body repair after a minor collision or body panel rust remediation, our expert technicians will get the job done right.

To learn more about our services or schedule an appointment, give us a call at 763-230-7805 or request a free estimate online, and we’ll get in touch with more info!