Used Cars Union City NJ: How to Get the Most Out of Your Used Car

March 5th, 2018 by

You have just purchased your used car. You’re driving it off the lot, knowing that the low depreciation rate is saving you hundreds, if not thousands. (For those of you who aren’t sure if a used car is right for you, check out our article, “Meadowlands Used Cars: 7 Common Misconceptions About Used Cars.”)


While you’re saving big out the dealership door, know that you can continue to get the most bang for your buck by making sure you do the following: regular and consistent oil changes, tire rotations, filling the car with the right type of gas, among others.


The truth is, a little maintenance here and there goes a long way; this applies to any car—new or used. That said, Used Cars Union City NJ gives you what you need to know to get the most out of your used car.


That way, you not only score a cheaper yet equally reliable vehicle, but that it continues to run efficiently.


Used Cars Union City NJ #1. Regular Oil Changes


No matter whether your car is new or used, it will need an oil change at least twice a year.[1] While some may swear by the 3,000 miles, every 3 months’ rule, this isn’t always the case.


In fact, with the advancement of technology and oil chemistry, cars can go hundreds of miles longer without needing an oil change.[2]


Of course, it is recommended that you look at your owner’s manual and go by the manufacturer’s recommendation. (Many automakers recommend oil changes every 7,500 to 10,000 miles or 6 to 12 months.)[3]


In doing so, you ensure that your engine is well lubricated and running efficiently. Consequently, not following your owner’s manual recommendation—and/or skipping out on oil changes altogether—could result in your engine wearing down prematurely.[4]


As mentioned, oil lubricates the engine’s parts. Without the oil, the joints start to rub, which is a sure sign of wear and tear to come.[5]


Distance May Not Matter


Even if you don’t drive your car that often, you still need to have an oil change. The reason being, oil ages and becomes not as effective.


A car sitting in the driveway on end with a cold engine can cause excess moisture to form (and not be removed), shortening the engine’s lifespan. Oil can in fact solidify, starving off the rest of the engine’s parts.


As you can imagine, replacing or repairing an engine isn’t a cheap fix; without a warranty, it can (unnecessarily) cost you thousands.


All in All, …


Get in the habit of checking your oil at least once per month. That way, you don’t accidently skip on an oil change and can address any problems that come up (for instance, if the oil looks light and milky, it could be a sign you have a coolant leak) so your car can continue to run smoothly.


Used Cars Union City NJ #2. Rotate Your Tires


While regular oil changes can save you an engine replacement, consistent tire rotations extend the life of your tires.


Tire rotations are important because, contrary to what some may think, all four tires don’t evenly wear and tear.


Then, you have to take into consideration that, despite the advancements in car technology, a car’s weight naturally won’t be dispersed evenly throughout the four tires.


For one, most likely your engine is sitting at the front of your car, which puts more weight towards the front tires.


And then, when you hit the brakes, the weight shifts to the front, which too can then apply wear and tear unevenly to the front versus the back tires.[6]


Given the fact that gravel and debris in the road can also affect your tires’ wear and tear and, without routine tire rotation, you are bound to experience some unevenness—which can affect your gas mileage and handling of the car.[7]


(Because let’s face it; you can’t predict where the bumps and holes in the road will be; naturally, one tire is going to hit the hole and experience wear and tear more while the others won’t.)


Similar to changing your oil, you don’t want to skip out on a tire rotation and risk needing to purchase a new set of tires. Aim to get them rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or so.


Look at your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer recommends—which we advise—and don’t be afraid to talk to your mechanic for his/her opinion the next time you are in the shop.


Used Cars Union City NJ #3. Know What Type of Gas You Need to Use


Contrary to what some may believe, not every car runs better on premium gas (91 or 93 octane) than mid-grade (89 octane) or regular (87 octane). Just because premium normally costs twenty cents to the gallon more does not guarantee your car will run smoother—it may not even make that much of a difference.


According to Forbes, nowadays, car technology makes it possible for cars to run efficiently on low-octane gas.[8]


As we have said time and again, you need to check your owner’s manual to see if your car needs high-octane gas—please know that some vehicles (like the BMW6) do; using regular over premium in these cases could risk causing damage to the engine, which needs high-octane gas to function properly.[9]


In a nutshell, low octane gas running in a car that requires premium could cause the car to exert less power and result in lower mileage.


Long story short, before you go to the gas station and shell out the extra cash for high octane gas, do your research to make sure your car does need it.[10]


Used Cars Union City NJ #4. A Car Wash Helps


Yes, getting your car washed will make it look better. But did you know that consistent waxing and washing can help ward off rust and prolong car paint from chipping away?[11]


Also, routine vacuuming can prevent your floor mats, carpets, and seats from premature wear and tear.[12]


Used Cars Union City NJ #5. When Your Car Needs a Repair, Do It As Soon As Possible


While a check engine light is an indication it is time to take your car in to get it serviced in the near future, a flashing yellow or red engine light is cause to take your car in as soon as possible.


Continuing to ignore the light and drive as if your car is fine may in fact make that damaged catalytic convertor worse. Play it safe and take your car in; long-term wise, this could save you hundreds, most likely thousands.[13]


In fact, replacing a damaged catalytic converter could cost you around $2,000.[14] What we can say is staying on top of repairs—fixing them as soon as possible—will save you money in the long run and allow you to get the most bang for your buck.


Used Cars Union City NJ #6. A Word About Weather


When it comes to car maintenance and repairs, we often assume the same “rule” applies to all makes and models. (Think about the 3,000-mile myth for oil changes.)


But often times, we forget to consider how the weather and altitude affects our cars, let alone dictates how often we need to take them in to get them serviced and tuned up.


When It Comes to Driving in High Altitudes


In high altitudes, the air is thinner than it is at sea level. This, in turn, makes it less effective at burning the fuel in your car since it is not as dense.


What you can do is install a turbocharger, which will help to compress the air (or consider adding bigger or more cylinders)—especially if you live in a high-altitude area.[15] (Of course, do your research and consult a licensed mechanic for his/her professional opinion.)


Even if you live in a lower altitude area, climate can affect the wear and tear of your vehicle. This is why it is important that you routinely check your oil and pay attention to your car.[16]


Are there any visible signs of damage—such as smoke rising from the hood? Can you smell burning? Is there a clunking sound? Does your car stammer?


Even if you are on the fence, it doesn’t hurt to have a professional take a look. A dose of prevention can end up saving you hundreds to thousands in the future.


Used Cars Union City NJ #7. Consider Getting the Service Manual Too


We often hear the words “owner’s manual” thrown around, but when it comes to service manual, you may be scratching your head.


It isn’t unheard of to assume that owner’s manuals and service manuals are one and the same. However, they aren’t. Knowing the difference and having both on you could help you get the most bang for your buck, and here is why.


What’s an Owner’s Manual?


The vehicle’s owner’s manual is included when you buy your (new or used) car. It is that one to two-inch book stuffed in your glove box or stashed in the trunk.


Similar to any other manual, it gives vehicle owners advice on how to own and operate their car. (Most manufacturers also have an accessible online version as well.)


Some common topics an owner’s manual can solve includes maintenance schedule, tire pressure, adjusting the head restraints, etc.[17]


What’s a Service Manual?


A service manual meanwhile breaks down all the parts of your specific car. This is a handy book to use when you are dealing with repairs. It also can provide you with more advice on vehicle maintenance, which is why it is such an important resource to get ahold of.


Normally, service manuals can cost anywhere from $20 to$100 at auto shop stores and your dealership. Cheaper versions can be found on e-commerce sites such as ebay.


What Is the Difference?


As we have alluded to, owner’s manuals and service manuals may seem like they are the same, as their similar names suggest. However, they have quite a few differences.


In a nutshell, the service manual goes into more detail on the car parts, illustrated instructions, and more information on basic repairs.[18] In short, by keeping this manual with you, you have information at your fingertips to use when you have a flat, need to change your oil, etc. This, in turn, can save you money in the long run.


Used Cars Union City NJ #8. When You Are Starting at a Deficit


The truth is, while you may use all of these tips—routinely taking your car in for maintenance and repairs—you may already be starting out at a deficit.


Lemon Cars


What we mean is that there are some vehicles that, no matter how many times you go to the mechanics and replace the transmission or repair the engine, it will break down weeks later. In these cases, new or used, you have a lemon car on your hands.


In a nutshell, a lemon car could just be the luck of the draw—buying a make and model that normally has a solid track record but for whatever reason, your car constantly faces multiple breakdowns.


Or, there could be a make or model where a specific part—say the transmission or engine—consistently does not work. To learn more about lemon cars, including how to spot one, read “Used Cars for Sale Wood ridge: What You Need to Know About Lemon Cars.”


Poor Upkeep by the Previous Owner


Also, especially if you don’t have the vehicle history report and service records, you run the risk of purchasing a car which didn’t get routine oil changes, tire rotations, etc. Inconsistent upkeep by the previous owner could unfortunately leave you driving out (unknowingly) with a poorly maintained vehicle.


As mentioned, skipping out on oil changes or consistently using low-octane gas for a vehicle that requires high-octane could damage your vehicle’s engine, let alone cost you a new engine. Unfortunately, not knowing the car’s service records could put you in this position, starting out at a deficit—needing to purchase a new engine weeks after making the purchase.


To avoid this from happening, we recommend that you get access to the vehicle’s service records and history report, not to mention have the car inspected by a licensed mechanic to rule out poor upkeep.


Used Cars Union City NJ #9. Keep Your Tires Inflated


Make sure you are not driving on deflated tires. The reason being, your car will exert more gas to compensate, which will end up causing you to spend more time at the gas station filling up.


To prevent this from happening, make it a habit to check your tires periodically and look to your owner’s manual for the optimal psi.


Used Cars Union City NJ #10. Protect Your Dashboard and Seats


Let’s face it, putting up the sun shade on your car is a thirty-second hassle that many of us would like to skip on. But it pays off, and here is why.


As its name suggests, the sun shade is meant to protect your car from the sun’s rays. Specifically, it helps keep the heat off of the dashboard and your interior car seats. Which, over time will reduce the amount of interior wear and tear.


If this does not become a habit, months to years later, you may have to deal with cracks and holes in your dashboard and seats—and may have to shell out some cash to pay for replacements.


Long story short, (begrudgingly) take out and put up that sun shade the next time your car is sitting in the sun.


Used Cars Union City NJ #10. Refrain from Driving Above the Speed Limit


Yes, driving above the speed limit can put you and others in harm’s way, let alone get you a speeding ticket and a day spent in traffic school.


However, did you know that constantly driving above the speed limit could increase wear and tear on your car?


This especially applies when you are city driving. You rev up the gas, only to slam on the brakes at the next red light. This pattern continues, pressing on the gas following with slamming on your brakes.


Basically, you are putting a lot of (unnecessary) pressure on the brakes, which can lead to wear and tear. If you keep doing this, you may need to get new brake pads and discs.


So, ease up on the gas and make it a point to follow the speed limit—to not only get the most out of your car but abide by the law and be safe.


Used Cars Union City NJ #11. Adjust the Maintenance Schedule Based on City Driving and Highway Driving


Weather and make and model are not the only factors you need to consider when scheduling your routine maintenance. How often you drive in the city versus the highway (and freeway) will depend on how soon you will need your next oil change and tire rotation.


You see, with city driving, you are putting more wear and tear on your car. Your transmission is shifting more often; you are using your brakes more frequently; and your idling engine lowers the oil pressure.[19]


Whereas, compared to city driving, highway driving tends to be much more stable and steady for the vehicle. Unless you are stuck in traffic, you are not frequently hitting the gas and slamming on the brakes, and your vehicle is driving at relatively the same speed.


Because of this, most likely your vehicle won’t demand as many maintenance cycles versus if you drove it more in the city.


Final Thoughts


Making slight adjustments—like keeping track of how often you drive in the city versus the highway, and paying attention to the altitude and weather—can allow you get the most out of your car, be it new or used.


Overall, it comes down to sticking to a consistent maintenance schedule and routinely paying attention to how your car is driving. What other tips do you have? Leave a comment below.




  • Look at your owner’s manual to see how often you should do an oil change
  • Know that the 3,000-mile rule is largely now a myth, thanks to advancements in auto technology
  • Wash your car frequently to protect the car’s paint
  • Rotate your tires to allow for even wear and tear
  • Check your owner’s manual to determine if you need low or high-octane gas
  • When the red or yellow flashing check engine comes on, don’t ignore it; prolonging a trip to the mechanics may be the difference between a quick fix and expensive replacement
  • Weather, altitude, and how often you drive in the city versus on the highway can affect maintenance cycles
  • Consider purchasing a service manual, which explains basic repairs and car parts in more detail
  • Despite consistent maintenance, your car may still frequently break down; this could be a sign that you have a lemon or poor upkeep on the previous owner’s part
  • Keep your tires inflated at the recommended psi to save on gas
  • Refrain from driving over the speed limit to reduce shelling out for new brake pads and discs—and, most importantly, keeping you and others safe


For more tips and to learn about used cars Union City NJ, contact East Coast Toyota!



[1] Consumer Reports: 5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

[2] The New York Times: The 3,000 Mile Oil Change Is Pretty Much History

[3] Consumer Reports: 5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

[4] U.S. News & World Report: What Happens When You Skip Oil Changes

[5] U.S. News & World Report: What Happens When You Skip Oil Changes

[6] How Stuff Works: How do I know when my tires need to be rotated?

[7] How Stuff Works: How do I know when my tires need to be rotated?

[8] Forbes: Do You Really Need Premium Gas?

[9] Forbes: Do You Really Need Premium Gas?

[10] Thought Co: How to Choose the Right Fuel Type for Your Car

[11] Consumer Reports: Make Your Car Last 200,000 Miles

[12] Consumer Reports: Make Your Car Last 200,000 Miles

[13] Angie’s List: 7 Signs Your Car Needs Immediate Service

[14] Angie’s List: How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Catalytic Converter?

[15] How Stuff Works: Do turbochargers help engine performance in high altitudes?

[16] Consumer Reports: Make Your Car Last 200,000 Miles

[17] Consumer Reports: Your vehicle’s owner’s manual: Access and information

[18] Consumer Reports: Make Your Car Last 200,000 Miles

[19] Thought Co: Are Highway Or City Miles Better for My Car?

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