Aside from a home, an automobile is one of the most costly items that people will purchase in their lifetime. This is a necessity with a hefty a price tag, and keeping your car properly maintained can not only extend the life of your automobile, but save you time and money as well. Taking a proactive approach to car maintenance rather than a reactive one can prevent damage to your automobile and decrease the cost of ownership. A busy schedule can often get in the way of taking the appropriate measures to ensure your vehicle stays in good condition, but finding the time to perform these simple tasks will protect your investment and reduce the risk of encountering a problem with your automobile.
According to the consumer watchdog group Car Care Counsel, the cost of auto accidents stemming from poor upkeep exceeds $2 billion each year. While you may be able to avoid an actual collision, neglecting to perform regular maintenance on your vehicle can shorten its life-cycle. When you do the math, performing routine scheduled maintenance will actually save you money in the long run, as well as keep your car running longer. Considering all of the things that can go wrong with an automobile such as brake, transmission, or radiator problems, failed smog tests, and perhaps even engine failure, regular maintenance fees are a fraction of the cost of repair bills.
So what are the most important things you need to remember for properly maintaining your vehicle? First and foremost, performing routine oil changes at about every 3,000 miles will keep your engine running clean. Oil lubricates the engine and helps to reduce friction within the engine. Driving a car that has run out of oil can cause severe damage to the engine and even fire. If you own a car that does not alert you when you are low on oil, take note of the date and mileage on your car after every oil change. This will help you to remember when you are due for another oil change and mitigate the risk of you running out of oil and your engine burning up. Changing your oil filter at the same time of your oil change will help to maximize engine life by removing the debris and particles that have built up in the oil filter.
Your tires should be next on your car maintenance checklist. Somewhere in the area of every 6,000 miles, your tires should be rotated to equalize the wear on each tire. Although tire air pressure should be checked on a more frequent basis, checking your tires to ensure that they are inflated at the appropriate pressure at the time of your tire rotation will help you remember to do so. If you aren’t sure what your tire pressure is supposed to be, refer to your owners manual, check online, or ask your mechanic. In addition to keeping your car running smoothly, keeping your tire pressure at the manufacturer suggested levels will give you better gas mileage, saving you even more money in this time of skyrocketing fuel costs.
Next on the list should be your yearly brake system inspection. Regardless of how many miles you have put on your car, brake fluid should be changed at least once every 2 years. Brake disc pads and shoes should be checked annually for wear. When they are worn down, they need to be replaced to avoid damage to the drum or rotor. By replacing your brake disc pads and shoes when necessary, you will avoid additional expenses such as brake drum or rotor replacements which will cost you roughly twice as much as pads and/or shoes.
A commonly overlooked but vital maintenance step is replacing your cars timing belt at the time suggested by your automobile manufacturer. This is one of the more costly maintenance procedures costing between $500 and $700 for a replacement belt, however a failed timing belt can damage your cars engine and repair costs for valves and other parts could run you up to $2,000 depending on the type of car you own. Parts for a domestic car will obviously be less costly than those for a foreign car.
Finally, to avoid failing emission tests that are required by the DMV, change your engine filters and spark plugs. Not only will this help keep your engine clean, but will significantly boost your chances of passing your mandatory smog tests.
Although following these automobile maintenance suggestions will require you to spend some money throughout the period of ownership, you will end up saving yourself from having to spend much more to get these parts repaired when they inevitably encounter a problem. A properly maintained automobile can last for 50,000 miles more than one that is neglected. Keeping to this list of …