5 car repairs you shouldn't skip

Having your car routinely maintenanced can help extend its lifespan.

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 changes

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."

Tire maintenance

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.

Brake check

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.

Scheduled maintenance

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.

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Repair or replace your car? 2 tips to decide


In trying to decide whether to repair or replace your car, consider safety and affordability. (Photo courtesy of Bill Newell)
In trying to decide whether to repair or replace your car, consider safety and affordability. (Photo courtesy of Bill Newell)

There's no hard or fast rule about when to repair or replace your car, so Angie's List asked highly rated mechanics for their advice.


Depends on the engine whether the timing belt is a fatal failure, if it is an interference engine (where the pistons and valves occupy the same space at different time) you will end up with belt valves/destroyed motor, if it is non-interference, a broken timing belt will simply result in a non-running engine, without internal damage.

my 4 banger honda civic needs oil change 2 monthes. change oil comes up on dash. remember trans fluid 3 years,30,000 miles.or smells bad burned or color change too.good timming belt. good idea.expencive if it breaks to fix...has too me it broke...

How right you are!! I have a 2003 VW Jetta. I was advised by my son, who has owned 3 Jettas, and is now into BMWs, that it is essential to change the timing belt before 80,000 miles and then again 160,000. If my car lasts that long (which I entirely think it will), I'll change it again at 240,000! BTW, I change the oil every 5,000 miles. I'd highly recommend the Jetta if you're looking for a car that will last a long time. My son's were at over 300,000 miles before he replaced them.

Unless there has been a great improvement in timing belts I'd suggest that you change it well before 80,000 miles. Most are supposed to be changed at 60,000 BUT I would recommend changing it at 50,000. I once attempted to wait until I had reached 60,000 miles. The belt broke at 59,000. When the belt breaks, the car stops. The natural tendency is to attempt to restart the car which then results in bent valves- a much more expensive repair

who is honest for auto repair in the78382 area code?

"who is honest for auto repair in the78382 area code?" Trick question. There is no 78382 area code in the United States, and probably nowhere else in the world. Nice try though.

You're one of those knuckle heads who feels like they're being victimized every time they walk into a repair facility.Trust me, these repair shops are relieved once your vehicle leaves their premises and much better off WITHOUT your business. I would know, I deal with your type all day long :)

maybe you should educate your "knuckle heads" so they don't feel victimized. And with that attitude no wonder people don't trust you!!

have changed brake cylinder seals and springs at 38 bucks a side on the same auto type that the dealer charged 1000......total rip offs............

I believe they meant ZIP code 78382, which would be Rockport, TX. But, I don't know any mechanics in that area. Sorry!

Hey bright star it is Rockport, Texas.

The "proper inflation" tip is a good one. Aside from steering, stopping, and traction benefits, you'll also get a boost in gas mileage. You can easily drop 1-3 mpg with tires that are underinflated!

Determining 'proper inflation' can be a little tricky. Just wanted to throw out a few tips for anyone out there that may be unsure. The only time you should follow the specs on the vehicles placard, is when you are using the tires that were installed when the vehicle was manufactured. It's very rare for tires to be replaced with the exact same make/model/rating that your vehicles rolled out of the factory with. Changing to a different tires size with also make the specs on the placard irrelevant! (i.e. upgrading from 16" to 18" rims). I also tend to stray away from tire pressure gauges, due to inaccuracies(variances from one gauge to the next). Finding the "proper inflation" for your particular vehicle can be easily done with a piece of soft chalk. Simply park your vehicle on a level concrete surface(I prefer the level platform of a large empty parking garage). Mark a line w/ the chalk that goes from sidewall to sidewall. Put the vehicle in neutral and gently roll it forward until 3 complete rotation of the tire. Place the vehicle into 'park', and now inspect the ground behind your vehicle(or in front if you rolled the vehicle backwards). You should see three chalk lines, of which the length of the line should equal the width of your tread. If the lines are shorter than that of the tread width, the tires are over-inflated....reduce the pressure. If the tires are under-inflated, the lines will be slightly longer the your actual tread width....add pressure. You can also inspect the chalk line on the tire, but it's best to inspect the surface your tire actually comes in contact with. Do this for each tire, make the appropriate adjustments to the tire pressure, and you now have optimal tire pressure! It does take a little bit of time, but if you modified your vehicle in any way, you can't rely on manufacturer recommendations or charts. Last but not least, notate the pressure for each tire and use that for future adustments(i.e. monthly tire pressure check). And what ever you do, don't listen to a service technicians advise. There are too many factors that can alter what your particular application requires.


Maintaining "proper" inflation is very important. The correct pressure should be on the "B-pilar" behind drivers door. Don't look on the tire for inflation rate. The psi shown there is for Max-inflation when mounting tire. The pressure on car will give you proper braking & handling under the most severe conditions. Increasin it a couple psi will give you a "little better" fuel economy but on a regular passenger car don't exceed 35 psi. !! Benn selling & servicing tires for 30 years. Get a good air pressure gauge and use it even if your newer car is equipped with tpms !!!

I have a new escape. It says to change the oil every 7500 miles, but I only drive about 4500 miles a year. Dealer says I should then change my oil every 6 months.

If your dealer recommends 6 month between oil changes, I'd do it. Your usage suggest that you drive very short distances every day. This is very hard on the oil, justifying a 6 month oil change interval. After 3,700 miles your oil will be contaminated, at 15 miles per day usage.

Well I own older GMC plumbing vans with about 105,000 miles on them. I would highly recommend changing the oil on older cars every 3k miles but I agree with alan that newer cars should be about 5k

For modern cars, using modern oil, changing the oil every 3,000 miles is MUCH TOO OFTEN. Read the owners manual. My Ford says every 7,500 miles and my Jag says every 6,000. Even under extreme conditions, changing every 3,000 miles is waste of money.

I disagree completely, cars these days have longer oil changes 6-7k per oil change but this is part of the marketing ploy of big car companies, change your oil every 3k and let the mechanic have a look every 6k. If you change the oil you'll save so much more money in the long run, and the car will last much longer.

Recommended oil change no sooner than every 7500 miles unless driving in the desert. Don't listen to the ads on TV or the dealers who make big profits doing oil changes. They pull the plug on as many cars as possible at the same time so they can do 5-10 an hour if busy and rake in a fortune. Don't fall for this

I am a service writer at a dealership and we do NOT "rake in a fortune" on oil changes. They kill our profits in fact. The manufacturer (Chrysler) actually recommends changing oil every 8,000 on newer models. The dealership is not out to get you. Our goal is to keep your vehicle in good condition so you get the highest value when you are ready to trade. We take care of our customers so that when- not if- something major does break, they come back and have it repaired by a certified tech instead of some random shade-tree that may save you money now but cost you more later.

What are you talking about? Most decent shops loose there pants doing an oil change , for sure the tech does . He gets paid for 15minutes for a job that is listed to pay an hour in repair time guide books. Telling someone to go 7k miles in-between oil changes who’s car may consume a quart of oil every 1k miles is foolish.

I am an ASE master technician. I change oil in my car every 4000mi with synthetic oil. My car has 436000 miles and averages 35 mpg on the original engine. My wifes car gets oil changed every 5000mi with synthetic oil and averages 52mpg on the original engine with 252000 miles. There is a direct inverse relationship between oil change intervals and engine life. Oil is cheap. Replacement cars/engines are expensive. Long oil change intervals recommended by manufacturers will get cars through relatively short warranty periods, normally 36000, 48000, 60000, or 100000 miles. If that's all you care about, no need to change oil more often. However, if you plan on keeping car and getting your money's worth, CHANGE YOUR OIL!

If you use a Mobil 1 Filter or something of equivalent quality, then 8000 is the minimum you need to change the oil. I typcially wait 10-12K miles in my cars and have no noticeable loss of compression at 200K-250K miles.

I've been a master tech for 25 years and own 3 repair shops. You don't change oil regularly because it wears out. You change it because it gets contaminated. That's it's job, to hold contaminates (dirt, acids, carbon, ferrous metals, etc) in suspension. Some of these get caught by the oil filter, some don't. A 5000 mile interval is a good rule of thumb for most modern vehicles. It's the best money you can spend on your car or truck. By the way, if your vehicle's manufacturer doesn't specify synthetic oil, you're wasting your money using it. It has no advantage over a good petroleum based oil or a blend. The only exception is that ALL turbo motors should use synthetic. One major point that everyone seems to miss, however, is that these services are a chance to get the vehicle up in the air and checked over for safety and preventative items. Our oil services include a 30 point check and take my techs 45 minutes to an hour to complete. Yes, for $29.95 we're really getting rich off those. Brakes, belts, fluids, ect all get checked. This is just as important as the oil change.

ok you made a huge statement there. what is your reasoning for it? I own 5 Turbo vehicles. Toyota Supra, Toyota Celica, Toyota MR2, Subaru WRX, and a dodge truck. Why should i spend 3X as much when Dino oil has been working just fine for me?

Id like to explain this one. turbo are in effect small turbines that force air into the intake. they have three compartments; intake housing, cartridge,and exhaust housing. the impeller on the intake housing is driven by a shaft that runs through the cartridge and connects to an impeller in the exhaust housing. that means that hot (read anywhere between 500*-2000* Fahrenheit) and expanding gasses are providing the motive power for the turbo to work. depending on the turbochargers A/R rating, this means that the impellers, shaft, and associated bearing are spinning, with side load mind you, @ anywhere from 50,000 to 180,000 rpm on most vehicles. by using synthetic, the seals that keep oil in the cartridge and out of your intake or exhaust manifolds can withstand more heat and pressure by transferring it to an oil that can take more of the load than a non-synthetic oil. But! the best thing you can do with most turbocharged vehicles is give the turbo(s) some time to cool before shutting the engine off. this allows cooler oil, and coolant in some vehicles to dissipate the heat and not cause the oil in the turbo to turn to sludge. hope that explains it.

I am a engineer who been doing my oil every 5000 miles with synthetic oil and all my cars run to about 300000 and they are still running when I sell them. 5K is below most recommendations and it is Very easy to remember with NO reminder stickers. I use synthetic for added insurance but you still need to change the filters and 5K is prefect.

oil is cheap!!!! really now...

I purchased my vehicle at 40,000 miles and it now has 182,000 miles. I change the oil every 10,000 miles and use synthetic oil. My car still gets 40 MPG, doesn't burn any oil, has good compression and shows no other signs of premature wear. At 16 years old, I'd say that I've got my money's worth out of this car and haven't changed my oil unnecessarily in the process.


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