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. Last year, they looked at cars all across the country, and an astounding 84% 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 lack of or worn fluids. This is the most basic thing a person can do and something that anyone old enough to have a driver’s license can do. Another very common problem they found was air filters that needed replacement. Again, this is something most people can do on most cars, and people just don’t realize how much damage dirt can do to an engine.
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. In tough economic times, 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 new 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. 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 literally 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.