We’re all guilty of taking our cars for granted from time to time – paying attention only when something goes wrong. However, this approach can end up costing you in the long run. Ignoring routine maintenance can lead to more expensive repairs down the road and dramatically reduce your vehicle’s resale value.
With a little knowledge, you can improve your car’s reliability and extend the life of your vehicle. To help you break these bad habits, we’ll take a look at the most common mistakes people make when it comes to car maintenance and how to avoid them.
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Hoping That Strange Noise Will Go Away
In many cases, the first sign of a mechanical problem is an unfamiliar noise. We’ve covered the different kinds of noises you may hear from your car and what they could mean. But the most important thing you can do when you hear a strange noise is to pay attention to it.
Whether you realize it or not, driving a car is an experience that engages all of your senses. It might be tempting to kick back and relax while you’re cruisin’, but it’s in your best interest to pay attention to the heavy piece of machinery you’re controlling. A strange noise will rarely go away by itself and ignoring it almost always leads to bigger problems.
Not Staying on Top of Routine Service
The most important thing you can do to extend the life of your vehicle is to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. Regular maintenance services include services such as oil changes and fluid flushes, brake pad replacements, filter replacements.
Also, getting your car serviced at regular intervals gives your mechanic a chance to check it for any other issues that could lead to greater, more costly repairs if left unattended. This is scheduled maintenance and preventative maintenance rolled into one. You’re welcome.
Letting Your Car Overheat
Of all the mechanical sins on this list, this one is probably the worst. Your car will still run if it is overheating, but rest assured it won’t keep running for much longer. Internal combustion engines generate a large amount of heat and require a cooling system in order to work efficiently. If your car gets too hot you can blow a head gasket, warp a cylinder head, or destroy the entire engine.
Preventing your car from overheating is as simple as keeping an eye on your temperature gauge, and also checking the coolant occasionally. It doesn’t hurt to get your mechanic to check the health of your cooling system on a regular basis, as well.
Neglecting Your Tire Pressure (and Tires!)
Tire pressure can affect your car’s braking distance, fuel economy, and handling. The tires are the only part of your vehicle making contact with the road – so, they definitely warrant your attention. Even if your vehicle has a tire pressure monitoring system, the pressure should still be checked regularly with a good old-fashioned tire gauge. In-car systems are sometimes inaccurate and checking your tire pressure yourself gives you a chance to check the wear on your tires and how much tread is left.
Your recommended tire pressure is usually printed on a door placard that you can see if you open the driver’s side door on your car. A good practice is to check your tire pressure every second or third time you fill up with gas – and don’t forget to check your spare!
Disregarding Those Dashboard Warning Lights
Along with unfamiliar noises, an illuminated dashboard light means it’s time to take action. Most of the symbols on your dashboard are pretty easy to decipher, but if you don’t have a clue what your car is trying to tell you, they are listed in your owner’s manual. Some warning lights are more serious than others and require immediate attention by a mechanic. If you ignore certain lights, like your check engine light, you risk causing further damage to your car.
These warning lights are triggered by sensors and computers telling you that something needs urgent attention. These warnings should never, ever be ignored.