One of the more common ideas behind frugal living is to keep something as long as possible and the depreciating value of a car is near the top of that list.

There are how-to sites all over the web to maintain your car and keep it in optimum condition but we don't always have access to the internet and having a book handy that binds it all together can be very useful.

Motorbooks Workshop has a new book in their series by Tom Torbjornsen, who is host of the radio show "America's Car Show" and wrote How to Make Your Car Last Forever.


This book has 17 chapters but broken down into 3 sections - I'll just go over those sections since the chapters are self explanitory.

First, there are handy maintenance tips, Q and A sections and DIY projects throughout the book that help not only to save money, but build confidence for those of us who are toolkit unready.

Section one - Vehicular Systems (chapters 2-9)

What can this section tell you that your car manual can't? As someone who is not mechanically inclined, I would say that the color photos and the limited black and white drawings already put me at ease.  And if the mechanic calls me and tells me that my connecting rod needs replaced, I can visually see what he is talking about and going to show me.
Section two - Rules to Follow to Make the Car Last Forever (chapters 10-14)

By this section you are over half of the way through the book.  The DIY projects range from 1-3 skill level sets. And one project is replacing the serpentine belt (skill level 3). Author Tom also has a section on what to do and not do in hot summers and freezing winters. 

Section three - Straight Talk (chapters 15-17)

These chapters are about understanding your warranties, when to buy a replacement car instead of replacement parts, what kind of parts are best for a car (manufacturer parts or after-market) and a chapter is dedicated to killing your car off as quickly as possible, which we don't want.


I loved the question: The other day when I "launched" off the starting line with my Honda Accord, from neutral, I heard what sounded like nuts and bolts in a blender.... What did I do to my car?

Is this book worth reading? I would say so for the newbie car DIYer or handy for a student going off in their $700 car to college. We all have starting points and this books takes condenses a lot of the information online and in the car manuals into something quick to read, easy to understand and with descriptive pictures to go along.


Contest Time - Win the Book!

  • Enter a comment below with an email or some way I can get a hold of the winner to get your mailing address. US Address only please
  • Contest ends Thursday at 7am MST when comments will be closed.
  • Thank you for all your comments - the drawing will be done with a random number generator after each comment is "numbered".

28 Comments

  1. Claudio // Monday, September 27, 2010 7:33:00 AM  

    I would love to get a copy of this book. I just replaced my 150K+ mile jalopy with a new car, and I want to keep it for as long as possible.

    hopefully non-machine readable email: claudio [dot] f [dot] ibarra [at] gmail [dot] com

    google voice number: (321) CLA-UDIO

  2. faithplusnothing // Monday, September 27, 2010 8:11:00 AM  

    I would love to win. All of our cars are on their last legs lol!

    awatts@atd-us.com

  3. Bill // Monday, September 27, 2010 8:53:00 AM  

    both of our cars are ten years old and still going strong. The best car is a paid off car!
    wfisk@bellsouth.net

  4. Anonymous // Monday, September 27, 2010 9:13:00 AM  

    I love this idea, because we do try and keep ours forever. 200k miles and counting.
    baryanet@yahoo.com

  5. prachi // Monday, September 27, 2010 9:31:00 AM  

    I recently bought a new Honda and the dealer probably earned some extra money on the side. This book is a great investment for someone like me who needs to start learning about cars so that dealers and mechanics cant take me for a ride anymore.

  6. Bob // Monday, September 27, 2010 10:33:00 AM  

    My daughter finally had to get rid of a car with 133,000 miles. For the last 4 years she had no car payments and only minimal maintenance needs.

    I hope to keep our 7 year old car for at least another 3 years and be well over 100,000 miles when it is replaced. We bought the car for cash. To not have car payments for a decade would be a wonderful thing.

  7. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog // Monday, September 27, 2010 11:13:00 AM  

    This would be a great book to read. I've been doing some of my own car repair work for a while, and would like to start doing more. My email is

    info [at] sustainablelifeblog [dot] com

  8. michy // Monday, September 27, 2010 11:22:00 AM  

    i have a 6 year old cr-v honda w/ manuel transmission. since they only sell cr-v now with an automatic transmission, i need to keep this car as long as possible.

  9. Anonymous // Monday, September 27, 2010 11:24:00 AM  

    I think this book would be great for my hubby & me. We don't seem to be very knowledgeable about cars...
    viktrola at gmail dot com

  10. Bryant Purdin // Monday, September 27, 2010 11:34:00 AM  

    Thanks for the article. I've got two cars, and am always trying to fix them myself first. Repairs are so expensive ~ $80 an hour for labor is crazy.

    - Bryant P
    email - bryant purdin &&@&& google's mail client dot come

  11. Annie // Monday, September 27, 2010 12:03:00 PM  

    I would love a copy of this book to not only use but review! My $4,000 van was purchased for $500 cause the transmission was out, and I replaced it giving me this van for slightly less then $2,000! I've had it for years, it's coming up on the 200,000 mile marker and I would love tips on how to keep it around even longer! My email is annie at annienygma.com. *crosses fingers*

  12. Anna // Monday, September 27, 2010 1:02:00 PM  

    sounds good....enter me in contest. love the site

    anna.vines(at)gmail.com

  13. Morty // Monday, September 27, 2010 1:52:00 PM  

    my 150k+ jalopy literally exploded in the desert last week and is getting a new engine and I'm seriously afraid that it's going to end up the world's most expensive CD player in my driveway. I had just put $1600 into it a week before that--typical. And now I'm mad because I had the timing belt replaced--a non-dire replacement--in hopes of keeping it FOREVVVVVURRRR.

    oh well :D

    rosary.fitzgeraldATgmail

  14. Melody D. // Monday, September 27, 2010 5:19:00 PM  

    wow, this book would be so helpful for us. thanks for offering this giveaway

    eclipchic at yahoo dot com

  15. Natalie R. // Monday, September 27, 2010 5:26:00 PM  

    My husband has really been getting into doing his own car maintenace, and I love the idea of keeping our paid of cars for as long as possible, so this sounds great.
    natalie_rebeja(at)yahoo(dot)com

  16. Courtney // Monday, September 27, 2010 7:17:00 PM  

    Our Subaru is now on 149,000 and I would love to make it last forever! This sounds like a great book!
    frangelico76@att.net

  17. Kristen // Monday, September 27, 2010 7:20:00 PM  

    My husband has had his truck for 11 years and wants to keep it for at least another 9. I'd love to read a copy of this book! ladybug810@yahoo.com

  18. Nick // Monday, September 27, 2010 8:49:00 PM  

    I'd love this book! 3rd year college student here -- haven't had any major car issues, but would love to be more independent...

    You can reach me at {my name}8462ATgmail.

    Thanks Dawn!

  19. mark // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 5:23:00 AM  

    My wife has an SUV we keep pristine, and because I love her AND we are frugal, my car is often neglected. She will get s new SUV before my 200,000 mile car gets replaced, especially if she is baby driving. I would love to read about smart, money saving ways to keep my beater in decent shape while we save for our next purchase.

    mdard@mac.com

  20. Lisa // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 5:37:00 AM  

    I love having no car payments and plan to keep it that way for as long as possible. All of my cars have been previously owned. For me, it's the only way to go. email lisa_baer AT yahoodotcom

  21. Dee // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 7:25:00 AM  

    I've been looking for a book that would help me maintain my car. I married a mechanic, but just like the cobbler whose kids had no shoes, I'm the last person that receives help when my car breaks down. I would love to have a timeline for maintenance and this book sounds like it does just that. Thanks!!!!

  22. Susan at // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 8:48:00 AM  

    Your book sounds like "required reading", given our economy.

    We need to keep our Ford Explorer in top condition and running as long as possible; it's over the 100,000-mile mark with around 100 more added daily. I'm disabled, so we're on a fixed income. This book would be a God-send to us.

    minpin71163 at sbcglobal dot net
    [ minpin71163@sbcglobal.net ]

  23. jmk // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:49:00 AM  

    Sign me up. Definitely a must-read!

    u623139_jmk[at]dslr[dot]net

  24. Reader // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 1:31:00 PM  

    i like the looks of this book for my 5 kids

    queticoahl(at)gmail(dot)com

  25. Anonymous // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 2:51:00 PM  

    I have listened to the author for years. He is outstanding and knows his stuff. I am anxious to get the book !!!

  26. Hammy // Tuesday, September 28, 2010 4:24:00 PM  

    Personally I drive my cars to death as depreciation is a killer in monetary terms. Who in their right mind would pay lots of money for a car and only use it for a few years before paying lots of money for a new car? It only adds up to a great deal of lost money.

  27. PHall0106 // Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:08:00 AM  

    This book would be good for anyone, especially me. I just paid off my 2004 Hyndai Elantra (that I bought uses a few years ago) and with nearly 95,000 miles, I need it to last forever!

  28. Jill // Wednesday, September 29, 2010 9:22:00 AM  

    This sounds like a great book! If I don't win it I'll get it from the library.
    I'm driving a car that rolled over 246,000 miles last weekend. It hasn't lasted "forever" yet but it's at least partway there. I'm shooting for 400,000 miles on it as an old guy I work with had the same model and got that many miles. I want to beat him.