What are the most neglected car maintenance items? According to one survey, they include:
- Wheels out of alignment
- Skipping out on regular oil changes
- Letting tires wear out and going bald
- Missing the check engine light
- Ignoring sluggish brakes that just don’t feel right
Of course, as busy people, we have our reasons:
- We’re too busy to take the car in … maybe later
- Money is a problem … waiting until next payday looks better
- The repair isn’t that urgent … What’re a few more weeks going to do?
- The repair will take how long … I can’t live without a car for that long!
Do you see yourself in any of the situations above? We’ve all been there a time or two.
But waiting to fix a car maintenance item is never good for your vehicle. It turns a simple, inexpensive issue into a full-blown problem. What started out as low-key – scheduling an oil change – turns into an expensive endeavor – a blown head gasket.
If you thought an oil change was expensive, wait until you deal with a head gasket replacement.
Oil changes, by far, are the most neglected car maintenance item for car owners. A few thousand miles can slip by quickly when you’re busy and have a lot on your plate. Manufacturers give a window of several thousand miles for scheduling an oil change, and many people press the limits.
Yet neglecting an oil change can increase buildup and friction within the engine compartment. Over time, that wastes gasoline, decreases fuel efficiency, and risks blockage deep in the system. When that happens, friction builds, heat accumulates, and various engine components break down.
You may think you’re saving money by pushing the timeframe between oil changes, but what you’re really doing is increasing the likelihood of a bigger problem down the road.
Ignoring car maintenance comes at a price. Let’s look at the costs of not taking care of your vehicle:
It impacts the life of your vehicle
Today’s vehicles are made up of more than 10,000 components, all acting together to create an efficient machine that gets you to where you’re going. Fluids, filters, belts, hoses, parts, systems, and individual components all will wear down over time. Some need replacing frequently. Others may last the life of your vehicle. Yet each part is dependent on the quality of another. If one isn’t feeding the systems correctly, it puts added stress onto that part.
The standard vehicle today has an average life of about 12 years, and is expected to keep running up to 200,000 miles. On average, a car will start costing you more money the older it gets and the more mileage you put on. One of the ways to counter that is through regular inspections, ensuring individual parts are in good working condition before they have a chance to impact others within the system.
It increases the cost of future repairs
Studies consistently show that cars on the road today operate with
- Low or dirty engine oil
- Low or contaminated brake fluid
- Dirty air filters
- Low coolant
- Old windshield wipers and low washer fluid
These basic items might not seem like a big deal, but simple, low cost items can quickly add up.
Oil changes – if you go months without changing the oil, you may end up by the side of the road, having to tow your vehicle in because it no longer runs. Upon further inspection, the mechanic discovers the engine has seized. Your options are replacing the engine, or buying a new car. That’s a big deal considering today’s average new car price is $47,148. Compare that to an oil change every 5,000 miles or so at a fraction of the cost.
Brake maintenance – brake pads have a built in mechanism to warn you of potential problems. When they start squealing, it’s an indicator that the brake pad is nearing its end-life, and needs changing soon. If you ignore the problem, the metal from the brake pad wears into the metal of the brake rotor. It continues to burn through the rotor and down into the ventilating fins. Instead of a simple brake pad replacement, you’ll be looking at thousands of dollars to fix multiple problems within the brake system.
Belts and hoses – these components can last a long time. But when they do start wearing out, you’ll hear squealing noises indicating a potential problem. If belts don’t have proper tension, it’s like having no belt at all. Many cars operate with a single serpentine belt. If it quits working correctly, it impacts the water pump, which quits circulating coolant throughout the engine, which stops the alternator, shuts down power steering, and shuts down your air conditioner. Fixing the belt is easy and a fairly straightforward process, depending on your vehicle. Replacing multiple systems is a costly experience that can quickly run into thousands of dollars. Timing belts can also be expensive if they slip or break, sending a piston into an open valve. If this happens, it can cause the engine to self-destruct. The cost of a timing belt is far less than dealing with a non-operational vehicle that needs a new engine.
Fluids and filters – these are simple routine maintenance items that are often spotted during regular inspections. When you schedule visits with a mechanic you can trust, they will help you keep your car in good physical condition, replacing parts and filling up fluids before further damage can be done.
It reduces risk
If you’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road, you understand risk.
Where were you heading? You might be late for a meeting at work. You might miss a flight if you were heading to the airport.
Now what? You may be facing towing expenses. You may have to deal with a mechanic who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Nobody likes facing repair bills. But neglecting car maintenance items only puts off the inevitable.
If you’ve been neglecting scheduling a visit, wait no more.
Call us today, and we’ll inspect your vehicle. We’ll help you make the best decisions for the future of your vehicle. And help you bring it back to the best condition possible.