It’s easy to let car maintenance go by the wayside, especially if you neglect your manufacturer’s recommended milestone inspections. But, at the end of the day, neglecting regular vehicle care only costs you more money and reduces driver and passenger safety.
In this blog, we will identify some of the most common vehicle maintenance mistakes customers make and tell you how to avoid them!
1. Skipping Routine Oil Changes
You can really mess up your car’s engine by neglecting regular oil changes. Oil keeps your engine cool and lubricated so it can keep your car running. Plus, it reduces wear on your engine and makes it last longer.
The ideal frequency of oil changes depends on your vehicle – how old it is and what the manufacturer recommends.
While a newer car doesn’t need an oil change as often, you’ll still want to stick to an oil change schedule of at least every 10,000 miles.
2. Ignoring Tire Pressure & Condition
A lot of times, drivers forget altogether about tire maintenance. When you only hop in your car to get to and from work each day, your tires are frankly out of sight and out of mind.
But tire pressure impacts more than you might think.
Incorrect tire pressure can reduce your fuel economy, shorten tire lifespan, and even increase your risk of getting into an accident. While it’s harmful for your tires to be under-inflated, you don’t want them overinflated either. And excessively or unevenly worn tires introduce a whole other set of issues.
Every few months, make a habit of checking your tire pressure and refilling your tires to the manufacturer-recommended levels.
NOTE: Tire pressure is not the ONLY thing you need to worry about. To maximize tread life, you need to rotate your tires every six months or 5,000 miles.
3. Neglecting Wheel Alignment
Poor wheel alignment – when the alignments doesn’t match your steering angle – can create major safety issues for you and your passengers.
This is an even bigger deal now, with the modern Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) in most new cars.
ADAS technology relies on the accuracy of steering wheel sensors. So, if your wheels aren’t properly aligned, “helpful” features like lane assist, lane departure, and automatic parking could do more harm than good.
The key is knowing WHEN to bring your vehicle in for alignment and ADAS recalibration.
4. Forgetting to Check Fluid Levels
Oil is not the only fluid necessary to keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. It’s also important to keep tabs on your coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield wiper fluid levels.
Low fluid levels (or contaminated fluid) can cause an overheated engine, unresponsive brakes, trouble shifting gears, and dangerous driving conditions.
The best practice is to check your fluid levels once every month. See our step-by-step guide to checking fluid levels.
5. Not Changing the Air Filter
Just like your home’s air conditioning filter, your car cabin air filter protects against dust, pollen, dirt, bacteria, and exhaust fumes. When your air filter gets clogged up or dirty, it can’t do its job well.
Air will stop circulating through your vehicle, your AC and heating systems will be less effective, and you may be left with a musty odor in the cabin.
But how often does it need changing?
Our recommendation is every 12,000 miles – and more if you have allergies or regularly drive on dirt roads or in highly polluted areas.
6. Missing the Warning Signs of Brake Problems
Working brakes are non-negotiable for safe driving. But all too often, drivers ignore (or aren’t aware of) the warning signs of brake system issues.
Unusual noises, vibrations, and burning odors are just a few of the biggest signs.
However, preventative maintenance is always the way to go when possible. It’s a good idea to have your brakes checked every six months (when you have your tires rotated).
7. Disregarding Warning Lights
You would think a colorful dashboard warning light would be enough to convince us to take action and get our car’s to the shop.
But that’s not always the case.
Our lives get busy. And many drivers have become desensitized to those warnings after one-too-many false alarms. But delaying when you see that check engine light could pose big safety risks and ultimately cost more down the road.
8. Letting AC Issues Get Out of Hand
You may be able to stomach a humid Wilmington, NC summer with a poor car air conditioning system.
But car AC problems aren’t ONLY a comfortability concern.
It is unsafe to drive without a working cooling (and heating) system. Ignoring AC issues can cause compressor failure, expensive full-system replacements, and distracted driving.
9. Using Low-Grade Car Parts
Many car owners sacrifice high quality parts for a cheaper service price. But what they don’t know is that this choice will probably end up costing them MORE in the long run.
This is especially true for European autos.
Some automotive repair shops use generic, lower quality parts (a.k.a. aftermarket parts) so they can give customers a cheap price. On the other hand, dealerships charge an arm and a leg for manufacturer-produced Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts.
Your best bet will be to find a mechanic who offers both OEM parts AND affordable prices.
10. Keeping Poor Records
You’d be surprised how many customers can’t tell us the last time their vehicle had a maintenance check up, let alone WHAT the mechanics did.
Good car maintenance records are crucial for a few reasons:
- They help you stay on top of your maintenance schedule.
- They come in handy if a mechanic needs to know what’s been done to your vehicle in the past.
- And if you ever want to sell your car, buyers will want the information.
Performance Auto Specialists | European Car Maintenance in Wilmington, NC
Looking for a reliable mechanic in Wilmington, NC? You’ve come to the right place! Our team knows how expensive car maintenance can get. That’s why we’ve made affordability one of our top priorities – next to our dealership-quality service.