In this day and age, with the economy being what it is, car owners are finding that keeping a car they love and is giving them good service is smarter than purchasing a new one. However, the older the vehicle, the greater the chance of costly repairs. So knowing how to maintain a vehicle is one way to save money while keeping that car running like a champ.
Automakers have come up with strategies for maintaining their vehicles and it’s wise to stick to them. However, there are variables to consider because each car, though they may all start out the same, are subject to different situations. For example, a car being driven in an area where there are temperature extremes or mountainous or rugged roads, is working harder than those not subjected to those conditions. Other considerations are things like the number of trips per week and whether the car is hauling or towing heavy loads. Checking ones’ owners’ manual for scheduled maintenance tips is a good idea, but remember that those are typical guidelines and drivers should use good judgment when a car is working a little harder than the average automobile.
In order to avoid having to bring a car into the shop for expensive repairs it’s best to get into the habit of regular oil changes. In the past, automakers recommend having the oil changed every three thousand miles, or every three months. But newer oil formulas allow the oil to withstand much higher temperatures without damaging the quality of the oil; so that 3,000 mile mark has been increased to 5,000 to 7,500 miles. The oil protects the moving parts and helps the engine run efficiently. As time goes on, the oil becomes dirty with particles and dust and does not lubricate as well as it should. Not only does the oil lubricate the engine, but it cleans out the waste products of the combustion. If the oil is not changed on a regular basis, parts of the engine can wear out much more quickly and this results in costly repairs. Even small parts can cost a lot to replace when labor is factored in.
Other Included Services
When a car is brought in for an oil change, the mechanic typically includes a multiple-point inspection of the fluid levels. In addition to the engine, fluids are necessary for other parts of the car to be in good working order. The brakes, transmission, power steering, radiator, and battery all have fluids, the levels of which need to be check on a regular basis. A breakdown of any of these components can result in major repairs. Just as the organs in our bodies need water to keep us healthy, the car needs fluids to keep it in good running order. High-performance cars, or vehicles that are workhorses may need even more TLC in this area.
A Few More Things
In addition to the fluid levels, the technician should also be checking the condition of other elements of the engine such as fuel filters, brake pads, spark plugs, timing belt, other belts, and the electronics on the car. Early diagnosis of a problem in any of these areas could save big bucks as well as an inconvenient break down. An inspection such as this can take less than an hour to perform but will save plenty of time and money in the long run.
A Final Word
A final word on avoiding major car repairs is car owners should be sure to take immediate action if the “check engine” light should come on. It’s tempting to ignore that little light when the car seems to be running fine and one has a hectic schedule to keep. But the new cars are “smart” in a way the old ’57 Chevy could only dream of and that light is on for a reason. Mechanics have a highly-specialized computer they employ to determine the reason for the “check engine” light and it only takes a few minutes to check it out and turn the light off. As often is the case, when it comes to avoiding major car repairs, time is money.