The High Cost of Neglecting Car Maintenance
With today’s extended car lives it’s easy to get caught up in the notion that they’ll run forever without proper maintenance, but failing to follow a routine maintenance schedule almost always results in higher costs down the road in the form of “more extensive repairs and lost resale value,” according to Rich White, Executive Director of the Car Care Council.
Your car’s maintenance schedule varies by its make, model and year, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for specifics. Remember, car maintenance does not have to be done by the dealer to keep the car under warranty, so consider setting up your own simple maintenance garage to get started on some of the easier maintenance tasks.
Setting Up Your Own DIY Car Maintenance Garage
Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
- Space-Make enough space to hold your car, a workbench, a toolbox, and your car (plus a few feet).
- Lighting- Consider installing inexpensive fluorescent lighting or a droplight for confined spaces. LED headlamps are perfect for working in dark spots
- Cleanliness-Store a broom/dustpan, mop and bucket with good quality floor soap, along with plenty of rags and degreasers. Protective floor mats can also be purchased for around $100.
- Organization-Everyone has their own strategy for organization, but be sure to equip the work area with organizational and operational features, like drawers, storage containers and hangars. Working with lots of tools, and small parts can lead to misplacing and losing items, so finding a good organization plan that works for you will save you time and money.
DIY Car Maintenance for Owners
Here’s a list of routine maintenance items that can be tackled by most DIYers.
● Tire Pressure - Tires are an often overlooked item on your vehicle, but performing monthly tire checks can result in better fuel economy and improved handling on the road. Be sure to check your air pressure on a regular monthly schedule to make sure they are properly inflated. Most importantly, though, checking your tires will also help ensure you don’t have a tire blowout which can be dangerous.
● Air Filter - The air filter protects your car’s engine life, by keeping debris out of critical running parts like cylinders and pistons. This simple repair doesn’t even require any tools, so make sure to change them regularly at somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 miles; check your manual for more specific recommendations.
● Windshield Wipers - Replace your vehicle’s wiper blades every six months to keep them operating most efficiently. Simply remove the blade and take it to the local auto parts store where they can point you to the replacement.
● Spark Plugs - Spark plugs can last as long as 100,000 miles, but frequently need replaced before that. If your car is running rough from idle position, misfiring, tough to start, or you’re getting poor fuel mileage, you may want to consider replacing spark plugs ahead of the time schedule.
● Oil and Oil Filter - Around every 3,000 miles or 3 months, you’ll need to change your car’s oil and oil filter. This helps keep the engine life by keeping it lubricated, cooling its components, removing sludge, not to mention it increases the car’s longevity and gas mileage.
● Radiator Flush - About every 30,000 miles, you’ll need to do a radiator flush to eliminate corrosion risk.
● Fuel Filter Replacements - In general, fuel filters need replaced about every year.
Car Maintenance for Dealers or Professional Garages
In some cases you should leave maintenance to the professionals. Attempting to do your own jobs that are out of your scope can lead to overlooked problems, more damage and less than ideal results.
Leave these jobs to the professionals:
● Vehicle Alignment
● Engine Tuning
● Airbag Repair
● Windshield Replacement
● AC Repairs
● Fuel System Repairs
● Coil Springs
● Electrical Repairs
Routine car maintenance is critical. And like the old adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This couldn’t be more true when it comes to a complex machine with multitudes of running parts, like the automobile.. Sticking to this routine schedule, and performing the easier stuff yourself, will save you the hassle of high cost damage down the road.