Murray Holladay

Everything You Need to Know About Automotive Repair and Maintenance Intervals

Automotive repair costs are a reality of vehicle ownership. Whether from normal wear and tear or an unexpected collision, repairs can take a big bite out of your budget.

Sticking to your car’s maintenance schedule may reduce the need for pricey repairs down the road. However, even with routine service, these expenses can add up over time. Read on for some ideas.

Oil Change

Oil changes are perhaps the most important aspect of preventative auto maintenance. Failing to perform this service could lead to serious engine damage and a costly repair bill.

Even if you drive fewer miles than the manufacturer suggests, it is a good idea to get an oil change every year. Clean oil helps your vehicle work better and last longer.

Tires

With proper care, most modern cars can easily go 100,000 miles or more. However, with age comes increased maintenance needs, especially for key components like tires and batteries.

Skipping engine oil changes could save you a few dollars, but the loss of lubricant over time can lead to internal damage. Likewise, skipping tire rotations or wheel alignments can cause uneven tire wear and expensive replacements.

Car repairs can feel unexpected and unbudgeted, especially when the price is higher than expected or there are longer wait times. We recommend setting aside money each month for both regular maintenance and surprise costs to help you stay ahead of repair bills.

Brakes

Brakes are vital to your safety while driving, and proper maintenance can help prevent costly repairs in the future.

Brake costs can vary based on shop location, vehicle make, and brake pad design. A squeaking or grinding sound is typically a sign that the pads need to be replaced.

Road conditions can also impact brake wear, such as frequent stop-and-go traffic or areas with corrosive road salts. It’s important to consult your vehicle’s owner manual for specific maintenance intervals and recommendations.

Cooling System

Your engine gets hot from the controlled explosions that turn gasoline into power, but your cooling system transfers heat away from the engine. Without this vital system, your engine can overheat, causing expensive damage.

This system involves radiator fluid (coolant), a water pump, a network of hoses, and a thermostat. When a cooling system service is performed, the old coolant is forced out of the car and replaced with fresh fluids.

Electrical System

Car electrical systems are incredibly complex, but they’re responsible for keeping your vehicle running like it should. They also play a key role in most of the safety features you use while driving.

The battery is a storage device that provides power to the electrical system whenever demanded. It’s also a reserve energy source while the engine is running.

The wiring harness is vital for carrying electricity from one electrical component to another. If the current in a circuit exceeds its normal rating, fuses, and relays are designed to respond quickly by blowing or interrupting the flow of electricity.

Tire Pressure

Your vehicle’s tire pressure needs to match its manufacturer-recommended psi, which can be found on a sticker affixed to the driver-side door jamb or in your owner’s manual. The recommended psi ensures safe driving and a smooth ride.

To check your tire pressure, remove the caps on each tire’s valve stem and use a tire gauge to measure the psi reading. It’s best to do this when the tires are cold, as heat build-up during driving can cause inaccurate results.

Transmission

A properly working transmission is a vital part of any car. It ensures that power moves from the engine to the wheels at optimal levels of RPM.

Often seen as red fluid, the transmission in most vehicles is located underneath and towards the back of your vehicle. Puddles of this fluid under your vehicle may indicate a leak and a need for service.

Heavy towing and driving in high altitudes can increase friction and shorten the life of your transmission fluid. Getting your fluid flushed as recommended by the manufacturer will help.

Fuel System

Your vehicle’s fuel system provides gasoline or diesel to your engine so it can create combustion and propel your car. It starts with the gas tank and continues through a fuel pump, fuel filter, and either a carburetor or fuel injector.

Fuel filters keep impurities from damaging your car’s engine. They’re often changed in conjunction with the oil change, as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Fuel injectors are electrically controlled gates that spray a precise amount of fuel into the engine for combustion.

Engine Cooling

A car’s engine uses small, controlled explosions to produce the energy needed to propel your vehicle forward. This naturally causes the engine to heat up, but the cooling system transfers that heat away to keep your vehicle from overheating.

Keeping up with your maintenance needs can prevent costly repairs down the road. If your check engine light comes on, or if your temperature gauge enters the dangerous red zone, pull over to let your vehicle cool down and schedule an inspection with your mechanic. Next article.