Source of creaky sounds in an older model vehicle plus general maintenance questions?
February 15, 2009 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Source of creaky sounds in an older model vehicle plus general maintenance questions?

I have a car that is well over 10 years old. It's a Honda and I've always gotten regular oil changes and other critical maintenance, so I hope to have it run to another 80,000 miles (until it reaches 200,000 miles).

I have a few different questions. First of all, the car has started making rather creaky sounds towards the rear. It sound sort of similar to what you'd hear riding in a big school bus. Just as the car hits bumps in the road, things sound creaky and a little bit loose. What would this most likely be?

Second, how important is maintenance of the outer body of the car to making it last? For example, I've had some rather large dents and other things that I just left as is. I don't follow the dealer recommended maintenance. But I am religious about oil changes. What is the most essential maintenance for making a car last?

Finally, at some point I will have to get a new-to-me car. What are the best ways to maintain the appearance of your car over time? Since I live and park on the street in a city that has a lot of snow, my cars have always a beating and after a while, they just look scratched up and worse for the wear. I'm wondering if there are any simple and expensive tips for maintaining their appearance and new look longer or if really, on NEW cars will stay looking new for long.
posted by limonade to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
Best answer: Car talk.
posted by snowjoe at 6:31 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

The way to keep your car looking new is regular washing and waxing. If you don't do that, the clearcoat will eventually get oxidized away followed by your paint. It won't hurt the mechanical parts of the car, it'll just look like shit. (like my '91 Accord, actually)

The creaky sound probably indicates a bad shock absorber. Jump on the back of the car and see if it makes the noise. If so, that's almost certainly it. Given that you live in an area with salty roads, it could also be the spring getting rusted through, but that seems less likely.
posted by wierdo at 6:45 PM on February 15, 2009

Response by poster: Regarding the last sentence in my question, I meant to say "only NEW cars will stay looking new for long?"
posted by limonade at 6:48 PM on February 15, 2009

creaking when going over bumps could be lots of things, but my first thought would be to look at the suspension bushings. they'll clunk or creak when the suspension is moving around if they're worn out. i've never heard of a failing strut that creaks, but i guess it's possible.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 9:18 PM on February 15, 2009

Agreed with the thoughts about waxing... and waxes have evolved over the years to a point that it goes on easily, doesn't require a ton of elbow grease to take off once it's been applied and dries. Some people put the appropriate pads on a cheap drill to make it all the easier take off the wax and it's cheap and easy to slap on a buffing pad to then shine it up some more.

Having had experience w. waxing/not, knowing people who never did it, even if you can't wash a car as often as you'd like, over time, getting wax on every 4-6 months makes a considerable difference and it really is cheap, quick and easy.

Not so much one can do with scratches other then getting touch-up paint. As you might know, dealers--car repair places, too?--will sell little tubes of it in the appropriate from-the-factory color... though it won't match as well as you might hope if the original paint has any weather/age-related fading. I've used it on a white car with paint in pretty good shape and it was more noticable than I would have preferred.

If nothing else, better to have touch-up paint than bare metal exposed (if the scratches are deep).
posted by ambient2 at 10:05 PM on February 15, 2009

« Older How to ask my boyfriend if he has an STD?   |   Software for playing the "rotate that credit card... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.