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I have a '06 Volvo V70 that I use mainly for commuting to and from work (about 10 km each way), with the occasional longer trip of up to several hundred km every few months or so. I drive maybe 7000-8000 km/year and the car has gone a total of approximately 155,000 km so far (I bought it from the dealership four years ago). I don't have access to a parking garage so the car stays outside nearly 100% of the time.

The car currently gets a routine service once a year according to Volvo's general recommendations based on mileage and age (the next being due in a few months), as well as attention when the car systems indicate that something is wrong, but not really much else in terms of specific servicing. Things like that I recently replaced the battery because it was nearing the end of its servicable life (which didn't surprise me much, given my driving pattern) and before that had the cam belt replaced due to age when the car was approaching the ten year mark.

Given that I drive mostly short distances often, are there any particular additional steps I could or should be taking that will help keep the car in good condition for as long as possible?

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Regular service and fixing what's broken will keep just about any car running for a long time. The main difference with driving short distances, is that your engine spends more time at less than optimal temperature. This is not as big a deal with modern fuel injection engines, but parts may still wear out faster than vehicles with mostly 'highway miles.'

Things to check every couple weeks

  • Fluid levels (oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid)
  • Tire pressure
  • Tire tread
  • Lights
  • Signs of obvious damage

If there are any abnormalities here, take your car to the mechanic.

Things to be done at regular intervals as indicated by your owner's manual

  • Oil changes
  • Filter changes (fuel, air, cabin, transmission)
  • Spark plugs, wires, cap rotor (if applicable)
  • Timing belt/chain
  • Fuel injector cleaner (at least once a year)

There are many more, but these are most important.

Things to be done 'when necessary'

Should be checked every time it is at the mechanic.

  • Tires - tread too shallow, or unrepairable leak
  • Suspension - shocks, bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, cv joints, driveshaft, wheel bearings, engine mounts, etc.
  • Brakes - a good indicator is a squeal when breaking.
  • Sensors - should throw a check engine light if anything is wrong.
  • Engine seals - usually results in oil loss
  • Cooling system - usually results in coolant loss or overheating.
  • Exhaust - cat, muffler, resonator, pipes. Usually gets louder if anything fails. Will throw a check engine light if the cat is bad.
  • Lights - head lights, tail lights, indicators

This is a list of the primary things to look for, but basically, replace anything that breaks.

As a side note

The easier you drive your car, the less stress you put on the parts, and the longer the parts will last.
The main difference between a POS and a decent car that just seems to run forever is the maintenance. Most times a POS is a dirty car with broken parts that the owner doesn't care to fix.

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