People who listen to my radio show know that I am a huge believer in doing maintenance to a vehicle. When I talk to listeners who have unusually high mileage cars, there is always one common denominator, and that is they are diligent with their maintenance habits.
Every April, the Car Care Council brings attention to the importance of doing routine maintenance on your vehicle. This year, they looked at cars all across the country, and an astounding 80% of them needed service or repairs. Some of those were minor like windshield wiper blades, but others were more serious and alarming.
For instance, the most common problems found were low fluid levels (washer fluid 26 percent, engine oil 23 percent and coolant 19 percent); clogged or dirty air filters were 19 percent; illuminated check engine light 13 percent; worn belts 13 percent; and needed battery service and wiper blade replacement 13 and 12 percent, respectively.
“Many maintenance needs are quick and inexpensive to resolve, so it’s easy to make auto care a priority during National Car Care Month,” said Rich White, Executive Director of the Car Care Council. “To help you ‘be car care aware,’ the Car Care Council has many free tools available at www.carcare.org, including the popular Car Care Guide and a customized service schedule with email reminders that make it simple to follow a routine maintenance program.”
Proper maintenance of your car takes willpower. It is not something people look forward to doing, especially those who have to take their car in for service. Most people tend to put their car maintenance on the back burner. In many cases, people don’t realize that it will cost them a lot more down the road in repairs, many of which could have been avoided had they just taken the time to do what they were supposed to do.
Many repairs can be avoided. For instance, most every repair shop and certainly every dealership service department can test your battery to tell you exactly how much life is left. If your battery is almost shot, it is so much cheaper to replace it while it is still working, than to let it completely fail requiring a wrecker. It could also strand you in a very unsafe area.
Other things like a visual inspection by a professional technician can prevent breakdowns too, like looking for frayed belts or hoses that are worn. A national poll conducted by Kelson Research shows that most Americans think their car should go 200,000 miles, and the truth is most will, but only if proper maintenance practices are followed.
Your fluids are one of the most important things if you want your car to last. Of course oil is essential to long engine life, you should get in the habit of checking it if you don’t already. Worn oil can be a killer and not give your internal engine parts the protection they need, especially in hot weather. It is not uncommon for cars today, especially newer models, to use a quart of oil every 1000 to 1500 miles, so checking your oil is critical.
Coolant is also extremely important. A lack of coolant can cause your engine to overheat and result in your engine being ruined. Power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid are all things you should check. Most cars have yellow letters stamped prominently on the caps of things that you need to pay attention to.
Be sure to find out, too, if your car has a timing belt or chain. Most that have belts call for replacing them prior to 100,000 miles. Sadly, I hear from people every week who don’t think about their timing belt until it breaks, and most of the time they are looking at an entire engine replacement when this happens.
Make a resolution to take better care of your car, it will pay you dividends, I promise you.