Routine vehicle maintenance is important no matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving. Though it’s tempting to skip some tuneups and keep the cash in your pocket now, this decision can be costly in the long run. Regular car maintenance will improve your fuel efficiency, reduce your repair costs, extend the life of your vehicle, and keep you safer on the road. Familiarizing yourself with critical maintenance tasks now will prepare you to provide your car with the best possible care throughout its lifespan.
Staying Safe on the Road
Car maintenance and safety go hand-in-hand. A vehicle that’s properly maintained is much safer on the road than one that’s been neglected. In 2017, a shocking 738 motor vehicle traffic fatalities were due to tire-related crashes. Many of these may have preventable with regular tire care and maintenance such as:
- Tire inspections.
- Maintaining tire pressure.
- Having tires rotated, aligned, and balanced.
- Replacing tires when worn.
Making sure that your headlights, taillights, and turn signals are clean and operational makes it possible for other drivers to see you and your signals. Your headlights are also crucial for providing clear visibility when you’re driving.
Maintaining your wiper blades ensures that you can safely navigate through rain and snow. Damaged or worn wiper blades can create extremely hazardous conditions if you’re driving through a rainstorm and battling poor visibility.
Replacing your brake pads and rotors regularly is crucial so that your car is always able to stop quickly and efficiently when you need it to. You should also have a mechanic check your brake fluid routinely to make sure you have the proper levels.
Reducing Your Repair Costs
Investing in regular maintenance will help you avoid many preventable repairs. In 2019, the average car repair cost over $384. However, certain tasks are far more expensive. For example, the cost of a new OE catalytic converter is more than $1,190. Keeping up with oil changes and inspections can help you extend the life of your catalytic converter so you won’t have to suffer this expense as often.
Relatively minor maintenance tasks like topping off your engine coolant can save you from catastrophic repairs, such as an overheated engine. If you fail to do something as simple as change your oil regularly, you could blow a gasket or cause your engine to seize up. It’s often easier to replace your car than replace your engine. This is a catastrophe that’s easily avoided with a little preventive care.
Keeping Your Warranty in Place
New cars typically come with a warranty that will cover certain repairs within the designated time frame. A warranty is a valuable piece of protection that can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars should something go wrong. What many car buyers don’t realize, however, is that your warranty is contingent upon routine car maintenance.
You must take your vehicle in for regular service in accordance with factory specifications or you will void your warranty. Your vehicle’s manual will give you all the necessary details on what you need to schedule and when.
Helping Your Vehicle Live Longer
The average age of all cars on the road is 11 years. This is an increase from just 8.4 years back in 1995. The longer you keep your vehicle on the road, the more you’ll ultimately save by increasing the time between new vehicle purchases. According to Consumer Reports, keeping your car on the road for 200,000 miles (or about 15 years for the average driver) can save you over $30,000.
One of the best ways to keep your car going for 200,000 miles or more is to keep up with routine maintenance. This includes:
- Oil and oil filter changes: Every 3,000 to 10,000 miles depending on your vehicle.
- Air filter change: Every 15,000 to 30,000 miles depending on the environment you drive in.
- Fuel filter replacement: Every 30,000 miles.
- New battery: Every 50,000 to 60,000 miles.
- New brake fluid: Every 20,000 to 45,000 miles.
- New brake pads and shoes: Every 50,000 miles.
- Replacement brake rotors or resurfacing: Every 60,000 miles.
- Coolant replacement: Every 60,000 miles.
- Transmission fluid changes: 30,000 to 60,000 miles for a manual transmission or 30,000 to 100,000 miles for an automatic transmission.
- Replacement hoses: Near 100,000 miles.
- Power steering fluid flush and replacement: Every 75,000 miles.
- Replacement spark plugs: Between 30,000 and 100,000 miles depending on the type and quality.
- New timing belt: Every 75,000 to 90,000 miles.
You can find more details on the recommended maintenance in your owner’s manual. You can also learn more about the best maintenance tasks for your vehicle by bringing it into a service center for an inspection. An experienced mechanic can give you a detailed accounting of everything that you should take care of and when.
Improving Your Fuel Efficiency
Regular car maintenance will improve your fuel efficiency so you can drive in a more environmentally responsible manner and lower your costs at the fuel pump. Some gains are relatively small. For example, keeping your tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi in pressure. Others are significant, like repairing a faulty oxygen sensor, which can improve mileage up to 40%. Keeping up with engine maintenance improves your mileage by about 4% on average.
Make sure you’re using the proper fluids when you have your maintenance performed for the greatest benefit. Using the motor oil that’s recommended by the manufacturer can improve gas mileage by 1 to 2%. Working with an experienced mechanic is the best way to make sure you’re always using the best fluids for your vehicle.
Our certified service experts at Huffines Chevrolet Plano are equipped to help you with all your essential maintenance needs. If you’re not sure what you need, our multi-point vehicle inspections will give you a color-coded evaluation of your vehicle that shows what you need to address now, what you should plan for in the near future, and what’s good to go. You can schedule your service online now and set up a convenient appointment that perfectly fits your schedule.
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