As well as being one of the inventions – up there with the television and the discovery of fire – that has revolutionized the world more than almost any other, the automobile is a truly marvelous and complex piece of technology. In fact, it is best to think of a car not as a single machine, but as a complex set of machines rigged up together to provide efficient transport. And as anyone who has ever owned a car knows, this complexity is reflected in the truly myriad ways in which a car can degrade over time.

There is a set system for the depreciation in value that effects all cars. For example, a car typically loses most of its value in its first five years, with that decline being most precipitous right after a new car is driven off the lot. This system of percentages that describes how a car loses value fails to truly reflect the many ways in which a car can actually degrade.

How to Measure a Car’s Degradation

There are several metrics for tracking a car’s degradation, and these fall into certain broad categories. Specifically, these are the car’s mileage and the car’s age. But depending on how the car is used and looked-after, these might not truly reflect the car’s condition. Instead, there are several things that are easy to check and keep an eye on. These are the state of the car’s tires, the fuel efficiency, and the battery., a top used car dealership with outlets in San Bernardino and across Southern California, recommends that tracking these three things is the best way to get an idea of a car’s overall condition.

The Tires

Generally speaking, a new set of tires should last you either 6-10 years or 50,000 miles. This is only a rough guide though and will depend on the level of use. However, a particularly important thing to remember is that tires will also degrade even when not in use. Yes, really!

To put it another way, there are two ways in which tires degrade. The first of these is in the wear they sustain on account of contact with the road. The extent of this degradation depends heavily on what roads you are driving on – whether rough or well-paved. Even when stationary though, tires can also develop cracks on account of simple exposure to the elements.

Fuel Efficiency

The reason fuel efficiency is such a good metric for the overall degradation of a vehicle is that it is related to so many other things. Incorrect tire pressure decreases it; faulty or worn engine parts likewise. A clogged air filter can also bring it down. Keep an eye on your fuel efficiency, therefore, and you will effectively be keeping an eye on your whole car.

The Battery

A car’s battery is responsible for all the functions of your vehicle that rely on electricity. This is why it is such a good metric for the overall condition of your car. The degradation of a battery is related to frequent charge and discharge cycles as the electrical functions of your car are started up and then stopped again.

And because the engine is responsible charging your battery, a degraded car battery reveals that the engine has been used a great deal. Again, watching how your battery degrades is a great way to look after the condition of the car as whole.

In summary, you can of course simply go by the official age and mileage recommendations to track your car’s condition. But by learning a bit about these other factors, you can get a much more accurate picture.