Car Time – March 2019

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Maintenance is More than Just Oil Changes

    Different drivers have different ideas about what “car maintenance” really means.
    It is indeed very important to change your engine oil regularly. Your engine will last longer and overall be more reliable. Most owners understand this and make a point to make the oil change ritual a priority. Others struggle with this concept.
    Failing to change your oil regularly will cost more in the long run. Many folks consider an oil change as taking care of the car’s maintenance, but it is not true.
    Let’s start with the definition of maintenance: “The process of maintaining or preserving someone or something or the state of being maintained.” There is a process when it comes to automotive maintenance and it starts with the owner’s manual in your glove box.
    The manufacturer has recommendations for the up-keep and will spell it out based on mileage intervals. Different intervals require different services, with oil changes and tire rotations being the most frequent. Some inspections incorporate an overall inspection of your vehicle. This is an important one especially on the 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 mile intervals.
    Oil change personnel are trained to change your oil and check an infinite amount of fluid levels. They have less experience and training then a certified automotive technician. These more involved inspections require experience to reliably report the condition of your car, truck or SUV. This involves a thorough inspection.
    They are looking for potential issues like fluid leaks, oil leaks and tire wear issues due to worn suspension and steering. It is also important to have a proper brake inspection and have your battery tested. These items don’t get checked during a simple oil change. These are the kinds of things that can be easy to detect and dealt with in a calm fashion, on your terms.
    When these inspections are neglected, it can turn your calm day into chaos. Now you have to deal with a dead battery, grinding brakes or a coolant leak that went from a little leak to being stuck on the side of the road. These inspections are designed for early warnings to keep you away from the chaos.
    I understand you are worried the repair shop is going to find something wrong with your car, and it will cost you money. This is indeed a reality. Are you worried that these suggestions are just a ploy to charge for stuff you don’t need? If this is a thought in your head, then you need to find a shop you can trust.
    Most shops hire professional technicians who know what they are looking at. Most shops operate with honesty and integrity, but it is OK to call them out to test their honesty. Ask to see the old parts or ask them to explain the situation so you can understand. Check their credentials and take recommendations from your friends. The best suggestion you can get is from somebody who has experience with a particular facility.
    The maintenance schedule will also suggest particular services depending on the mileage. Some of these interval-based suggestions are more significant, such as a transmission service, spark plug replacement or even a timing belt job. The cost of these items will be more significant so it is good to know in advance for scheduling and budgeting.
    When you pass the 60,000 mile mark, you can expect to have some more significant services performed. It is important to be ready for it. Spending money maintaining and repairing your vehicle is a reality. These cars and SUVs are machines that will suffer from wear and tear. Ignoring maintenance will cost you more in the long run. 
    The basics, like changing your oil, checking your tire pressure, and getting scheduled inspections and work done are like getting regular checkups at the doctor. They keep you healthy and give you, and the experts, a chance to catch anything serious before it becomes a major problem. That kind of attention can save thousands. 
    Who is responsible for paying attention to this maintenance schedule for your vehicle? It is the owner/driver of course. However, trustworthy repair facilities will help you figure out what you are due for and can help through the process.
    Be a good consumer of automotive repair. Get your manual out and familiarize yourself with the future of your car’s maintenance needs.  

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