Few simple steps can keep your car running, looking like new

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PHOENIX -- You don't have to buy a new car to feel like you are driving one. Automotive specialist Barbara Terry said that with a little effort, even a used car can feel like new.

"If you spend a little bit now, a little more now, let's say, you'll save a lot in the long term," Terry said.

She said that's the secret to a car that always looks and runs like new.

"We want to keep our cars as long as possible and keep them as healthy as possible," she said.

Terry said it all starts under the hood.

"I like to equate my car's health to my body's health," she said. "You want to run the right fluids through it, get regular scheduled maintenance and tuneups."

Even if you take your car in for regular service, you need to be looking under the hood more often.

Terry said in Arizona's heat, you need to watch your battery closely.

"If you have battery corrosion around your battery posts, that literally drains the life of your battery," Terry warned.

You can use a wire post cleaner or anti-corrosion spray.

"Spray it onto each one of your battery posts, let is sit there for a few seconds and then just wash it off with a little bit of water," Terry said.

And even if you don't change it yourself, Terry recommends checking your oil on a monthly basis -- and not just the level. She said it should have a honey tone to its color.

Also check your coolant and washer fluid levels.

"All of this is really easy to replenish," she said. "You can literally replenish it in the amount of time that it takes you to fill your car up with gasoline."

Terry also prefers a name-brand gasoline. She said their formulas will keep your fuel system cleaner.

"Their nitrogen-enriched gasolines literally keep those carbon deposits from building up," Terry said. "With a new car, that black tar carbon deposit builds up in the car's fuel system in the first 500 miles. So you can equate that as plaque around your heart. You want to keep that away and stay as healthy as possible."

Of course, it's the exterior that most people notice and Terry said you can start with a good wash.

"Use a soap that a lot of money was invested in the research, that is not going to damage your paint or your exterior clear coat," she suggested.

Keeping road grime off will preserve the shiny finish. That goes for your rims, as well. Use a wheel cleaner to get off brake dust.

"That will start acting almost like corrosion and will literally eat into the shiny part of your rim," Terry explained.

And tire shine not only looks good, it helps tires last longer.

"A good tire shine has a conditioner in it, which will literally condition your tires and keep them from cracking."

With the brutal sun beating down, leather conditioner is a must in Arizona.

Terry also said to change your air filter about every 10,000 miles. It can boost fuel economy up to 10 percent. Properly inflated tires also boosts fuel economy.

These are some easy tips to make sure you feel like you are driving off in a new car every time you drive.

"Cars are typically the second-largest thing that we invest in and we want to protect that investment, not only for performance, but also for longevity and beauty," Terry said. "I always say take pride in your ride."