If you look up the word maintenance in the dictionary, it means:
Upkeep or support, the process of keeping something in good condition by regularly checking it and repairing it
Maintenance is something we spend a lot of our time working on. Your house and your car are your two biggest investments; it only makes sense to spend the time necessary to keep them in good working condition.
But therein lies the problem. Both your house and your car are large investments, you use them in a variety of ways every day. We tend to ignore the little things that might not seem like such a big deal, pushing it off for later “when we have the time.” And they go on our to-do lists, sitting there, waiting.
There are two approaches you can take to repair your car and keep it in good working condition:
- Scheduling it
- Waiting for emergencies
Think about your own patterns; drivers usually fall in one of the two categories. Regular maintenance is obviously the wiser choice, both to keep you safely on the road, and to spend less time, money, and energy on repairs.
Imagine for a minute, a driver who replaces their motor oil regularly. They replace the oil several times a year with fresh, high quality oil. Their car works well, and it operates as efficiently as possible. Compare that with the driver who forgets to change out the oil. What will that car look like two years down the road?
Creating a stress-free way to repair your car and keep it in good working condition doesn’t have to be difficult. But it does require you to set yourself up for success. Here’s how.
Create a car maintenance schedule and stick with it
Did you know every make and model comes with a handy guide that provides guidelines for how to repair your car over the years? Who better to keep you on track for maintaining your vehicle than the people that built your car?
When you signed the paperwork and drove away, you were presented with an owner’s manual filled with details about your car. Did you read it? If you bought a used car, you can also find this information online. Just Google it.
Most of us know we have to change the motor oil frequently, keep the windshield washer fluid tank filled, and install new tires as they wear down. That’s the easy stuff. But just like your motor oil or tires eventually wear down, so do the rest of the parts on your car. All 30,000 of them.
While you don’t have to check every part of your car frequently, it is a good idea to understand the major systems, and realize what parts need cleaning, changing, or replacing, and how often you should perform the task. If you find a reliable mechanic, they can also provide you with regular support – think of them as a general doctor for your vehicle. That’s especially important now as cars are increasingly more technology-driven.
Remember, all maintenance schedules are guidelines for how often they should be looked at. It’s equally important to pay attention to the way your car performs, noting any changes in the way it drives or handles on the road.
Create an auto repair log
Do you really need to create a log of all the repairs performed on your car? It may sound like a waste of time, but it can be a helpful tool. Here’s why.
A log of repair work can help you understand the needs of your car. It can help you:
- Track fixes and repairs
- Help troubleshoot problems and make it easier to find solutions
- Provide proof of expenses
- Help separate personal and business usage
- Log mileage
- Add value to your car when it comes time to sell
If you’ve ever purchased a used car before, a log of all repair work would make your faith in the vehicle that much higher, wouldn’t it? The proof of good maintenance would be right there. You can buy an inexpensive journal and keep it in your glove compartment, or consider downloading an app, so it’s always with you.
With your logbook in hand, you can keep a better eye on the repairs performed throughout the years. It helps you be better informed about how your car is operating.
Fix things sooner rather than later
Problems don’t go away by themselves. Instead, they build over time, escalating, until you have an emergency situation on your hands.
Take the example we used from above about changing out your motor oil. Pulling into a service station every few thousand miles for fresh motor oil keeps your car running smoothly. It costs a few dollars, and is a smart way to keep your car in good condition. If you don’t change the oil regularly, dirt begins to build, and over time can lead to extreme engine wear. If you run out of oil, your engine will fail. The parts will grind, seize up, and stall your vehicle. What would have been a few dollars for an oil change is now thousands of dollars in repair bills.
Of course, some car parts are more dangerous to leave unchecked than others. Determining the difference is something you’ll learn over time. You can consult with your owner’s manual to establish a guide of what to replace, and rely on a good mechanic to keep your vehicle in good running condition.
You can also use good judgment regarding what you replace quickly, and what you can leave until later. Common sense tells you that an oil leak is something that can’t wait, while a scratch in the paint can. In general, leaks, noises, smells, or changes in the way your car performs are things you should check immediately.
Follow the instructions – don’t delay
We’ve said it before in this article, but we’ll repeat it. The best way to repair your car and keep it in good working condition is to follow the guidelines established by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
It will explain the meaning of the dashboard lights as they flicker on, warning you of potential problems.
It will give you guidelines as to what to repair and when.
It will provide you with tips on making your vehicle operate better.
It will give your car the longest life possible.
Your car is one of your biggest investments. Isn’t repairing your car regularly worth it to make the most of your purchase?