Today’s vehicles are more technical and intricate than ever before. They are a complex combination of mechanical and electronic parts which all need to function properly for your vehicle to be safe and reliable.
This means that auto maintenance tips are more important than ever because even the most expensive maintenance costs are only a fraction of the cost of a major repair.
And with the exception of being in an accident, most high priced auto repairs are the result of neglecting regularly scheduled maintenance.
The Biggest Mistake You Can Make
One of the most expensive repairs that you would ever need to make to a vehicle is replacing the motor. The cost for a rebuilt engine begins at around $2,500 and can exceed $5,000. A good rough estimate is to start with 15% of the cost of the new car and it only goes up from there. To avoid this unfortunate and expensive experience, there are a few basic maintenance tips and procedures that you should follow.
The first, is to check your oil regularly. Clean oil is imperative to the life of your engine. Without oil lubricating the moving metal part, the engine will seize and your car will be nothing more than a huge paper weight. A good habit is to check the oil each time you fill the gas tank in an older vehicle and once a month in a newer model.
The five minutes spent checking the oil level and consistency could save you thousands of dollars. If the oil is black or has a high content of grit or particles, then change it even if the fluid level is sufficient. Dirty oil is only marginally better than no oil.
Visual Inspections that Will Save a Towing Expense
There are several quick visual inspections that you can complete in under a minute that will save you from being stranded on the side of the road and will save you an expensive towing fee on top of the repair costs.
The first inspection simply requires you to open the hood and inspect the belts and hoses. The rubber belts on your vehicle operate the timing, the alternator and other features such as the fan. All of the belts are heavy rubber and have grooves in them.
If you look at the belts and see excessive wear on the sides or splitting or cracking, it’s just a matter of time before they break. The rubber hoses will also show the beginnings of cracks or splits before they rupture and leak fluid. Having these items replaced before the wear turns into a failure will certainly save you time and the frustration of waiting for a tow truck.
Another simple visual inspection that is important is the wiper blades. If they are showing wear or beginning to peel away from the support arm, then it’s time to replace them. A stop at the auto parts store is a quick and easy fix as opposed to being stuck in a rain storm and not being able to see clearly out of your windshield. A few dollars for new wiper blades is a small price to pay to avoid an accident because of impaired vision in bad weather.
The final visual inspection, and one of the most important, is checking your tires. It is important to keep them properly inflated as per your owner’s manual but also to inspect them to be sure that the tread is in good condition and that they have no nails or other objects causing a slow leak. Any cracks or peeling of the tread is an indication that you need new tires not only to avoid a flat but to avoid an accident caused by a blowout.
A Tip to Avoid a Ticket
Avoiding a ticket is normally very simple; obey all of the traffic laws and you will be just fine. But no one ever thinks about having a burned out bight bulb, which can result in a ticket or even worse, an accident. By simply turning on your hazard lights, you will be able to walk around your vehicle and see that all of the lights are working.
If you have another person to help you, you can also cycle through all of your lights including the turn signals, brake lights, backup indicators and headlamps. If you find that you have a bulb that is burned out, you can have it replaced or most can be replace at home if you have a few tools.
The best way to determine if you can tackle a light replacement project is to Google the specific make and model of your vehicle and either read the replacement process or watch a YouTube video of the process. In many cases it is just a matter of removing a few screws, replacing the bulb and then reinserting the screw.
All you Need to Know
Keeping your vehicle in good running order and being sure that it is safe is part of the responsibility of owning it. Every owner’s manual dedicates numerous pages to safety checks and maintenance checks. If you are comfortable performing the checks yourself at the recommended intervals then by all means save the money and do them yourself.
But the key is to do them. If you don’t want to do them or can’t for some reason then ask a friend or a relative to help you. And if that is not an option, be willing to pay a professional to do the checks for you. Saving a few dollars is never worth the risk of hurting yourself or someone else. And it is never good to be penny wise and pound foolish, meaning that spending money on auto maintenance will actually save you money in the long run by avoiding much more costly repairs.
Following just a few easy auto maintenance tips and the maintenance schedule for your specific vehicle will ensure that your car remains reliable for many years. A vehicle is a major investment and you should always protect your investment and your safety.
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