Types of Maintenance to Expect over the Lifespan of Your Car
Whether you just bought a car or you’ve had yours for the better part of the past decade, many of our customers wonder if they’re taking their car in for all of the maintenance that it needs to stay in its best condition. There are a lot of different parts of the car that require maintenance, and they are all usually on different schedules, so it can feel complicated quickly. As a car owner, it’s a really important thing to keep an eye on. Jason Mikolowski, the store manager at our Cascades location, says that “a lack of maintenance is the most common reason behind expensive repairs” in a car’s lifetime.
Your car owner’s manual will have the nitty-gritty details of exactly what you need to take your car in for and when, but we’ll outline the basics and break down some of the universal guidelines here.
Oil Changes and Other Car Fluids
Most people know that oil changes are necessary—but did you know that they aren’t always needed every 3,000 miles? Depending on the car and the type of oil your car uses, you might not need to change it for several thousand additional miles. Cars that use synthetic oil tend to need less frequent oil changes. Your car manual will say exactly what kind of oil you should be using and how often you should be changing it.
Your car has a lot of different fluids that need to be replaced from time to time apart from just the oil. This is a list of the major fluids that you’ll need to replace at some point during your car’s lifetime.
- Transmission Fluid
- Differential Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Brake Fluid
For more information about the fluids that help your car run, please see our post “Why Fluids are Crucial for Proper Vehicle Maintenance.”
If your car owner’s manual isn’t quite user-friendly, or if you just would prefer to speak with an expert, you can give any of our locations a call, or just stop by. We know the maintenance intervals for all of the different makes and models out there and can get you up to speed quickly!
Car Parts That Need to be Replaced Due to Wear and Tear
Even with diligent maintenance, some parts of the car will wear out over time. Here are the most common repairs Jason sees come through the shop.
- This probably isn’t a big surprise for most drivers. Salt and other outside elements can work their way into the brake system and wear the brakes down. It also depends on how you drive. If you drive in stop-and-go traffic more frequently than not, you’re going to wear down your brake pads more quickly.
- Shocks and struts
- Jason says that you can tell that these are worn down if the car feels “boaty,” like it’s rocking side to side. This can then can cause tire wear more quickly than normal, so it’s an important thing to catch as soon as you can.
- Accessory drive belt
- This is a rubber belt that can get worn out over time, but you won’t necessarily know its status without a visual inspection from a professional.
- Of course, your car’s tires will wear out over time. We have a video about how to know if your tire treads are worn down here.
How Much Should I Budget for Car Maintenance and Repairs?
The cost of a single kind of repair can vary widely from car to car. Jason pointed out that parts for European cars can sometimes run two, three, or even four times the cost of the same part for an American or Japanese car. A lot of cars have 1 or 2 computers in a car, but a European car might have 4 computers. Sometimes this means that in a car that relies on computers for even simple mechanic tasks, even some simple rainwater damage can render many parts of the car inoperable.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule for how much to put on your line-item budget for car repairs, but it’s a good idea to always have some money set aside for rainy days.
Never Avoid a Check Engine Light
We asked Jason if there was one piece of advice he’d give to car owners about car maintenance and repairs. While it seems like common sense to pay attention to the status of your car’s engine, sometimes drivers crunched for time delay taking their car into the shop when the check engine light comes on. This is one thing you really don’t want to delay. If you do, you could end up causing a lot of damage to your car and end up with a costly engine repair, or you might even need to replace your engine entirely.
The good news is, you can avoid expensive repairs the majority of the time (excepting for things that are completely out of your control—like a family of mice making a home inside your car!) with regular maintenance. If you haven’t taken your car in for a maintenance check in awhile, make an appointment at your nearest Virginia Tire & Auto and we’ll make sure your car is in fighting shape.