5 car repairs you shouldn't skip
Having your car routinely maintenanced can help extend its lifespan.
We often don’t think about maintenance on our vehicles until something is wrong. But keeping your car in top running condition is vital.
Angie’s List went to highly-rated auto repair professionals for the five auto service items you shouldn’t skip out on.
Oil is the engine’s blood and it's critical to ensuring a car’s long life. Your vehicle’s oil should be changed depending on your driving habits, typically every 3,000-7,000 miles or around 3-6 months. You should check your car's oil level about every 1,000 miles.
"Keep your oil changed - it is the easiest thing to overlook and ignore but the most important thing anyone can do," says Terry Irwin of highly rated Aloha Auto Center in Hillsboro, Ore. "We see more worn engine parts due to the lack of oil changes."
Properly maintained tires improve your vehicle's steering, stopping and traction. Tire pressure should be set to the manufacturer’s specifications, which can usually be found in the owners' manual, on a sticker inside fuel filler door or on the door well of the driver's side door.
"It’s important to keep your tires inflated to the pressure that is recommended by the manufacturer of the car; Proper inflation keeps your tires wearing correctly," says David Beck of highly rated All Star Tire & Auto Service in Indianapolis.
Over- or under-inflated wears tires out faster, can negatively affect fuel consumption and present a safety hazard. Get your tires rotated and balanced every 6,000-8,000 miles and get the alignment checked at least once a year to make sure there are not suspension problems.
Transmission fluid, brake fluid, and coolant can break down over time and lose their effectiveness. All fluids should be checked and topped off every oil change. Have your transmission fluid flushed out every 50,000 miles, depending on your driving habits and your vehicle manufacturer's specifications.
A brake inspection should be part of your vehicle’s ongoing regular maintenance to ensure safety and reliability.
Have your brakes inspected at least once a year or more often if you experience grinding, vibrations or shaking when you brake. Regardless of the vehicle, brakes generally need to be replaced every 20,000-30,000 miles.
Failure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule could lead to loss of warranty coverage, breakdowns, poor fuel economy and a higher cost of ownership in the long run.
Having a certified professional inspect your car according to these schedules is an opportunity to catch problems before they get you stuck or escalate into larger repairs.
Build a relationship with a shop or mechanic. Bouncing from shop to shop may save a few dollars on particular jobs, but in the end the only one who will have any responsibility for the condition of the car will be you. "Having a reputable shop you trust means you having someone looking under the hood for any potential problems on a regular basis," says Mike Aronow, owner of highly rated Sunset Auto Imports Service in Henderson, Nevada.
A good mechanic, who is familiar with your needs, your expectations, and your car, will help you get the most from your car.
*These tips are simply guidelines and are not intended to replace or overrule your owner's manual.