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10 Common Car Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

We talk a lot about car maintenance on our blog and how important it is for the health of your vehicle (and your bank account). Yet, many car owners still make the same maintenance mistakes over and over again.

To save you time, frustration and money, here are ten car maintenance mistakes to avoid.

1. Neglecting Oil Changes

It’s one of the most basic car maintenance tasks, but so many car owners neglect to do it regularly: oil changes.

Depending on the vehicle, it may not be necessary to get an oil change every 3,000 miles, but you still need to get them done at the interval recommended by the car manufacturer. Oil breaks down over time and can create sludge deposits in your engine. Over time, these deposits can damage your engine.

Regularly changing your oil will help maximize your engine’s life.

2. Ignoring Your TPMS Light

There’s no way to accurately gauge your car’s tire pressure just by looking at it. Even if the tires look like they are properly inflated, the pressure can still be low. A number of factors can affect tire pressure, including debris, weather and pot holes.

When tire pressure is low, it lowers fuel economy and makes your car less safe to drive.

Most modern vehicles have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) which is a warning system for when one or more tires are deflated below what is considered safe by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

If your TPMS light is on, it’s important to pull over and check to make sure that your tires aren’t losing air. Don’t ignore this light. Failing to fix the issue could lead to a blowout or an accident if you lose control of your vehicle.

3. Driving with an Overheating Engine

A vehicle’s cooling system helps prevent overheating, but sometimes, that cooling system can fail and stop doing its job properly.

Never ignore an overheating engine. If you keep driving with an overheated engine, it can cause extensive damage and lead to expensive repairs.

If your car starts overheating, pull over immediately and turn off the ignition. Call a tow truck to get your vehicle safely to the nearest mechanic.

4. Failing to Inspect Your Brakes

Brakes are the most important part of your vehicle. Unfortunately, many car owners overlook the maintenance of this part, which can lead to a serious accident or expensive repairs.

If your brakes are squeaking, squealing or grinding, get them looked at right away. Do not ignore this problem.

Your vehicle’s tires should be rotated about every six months, and this is a good time to have your brakes inspected. The shop can check the thickness of the brake pads and the calipers or drums to look for signs of wear.

Typically, brakes last between 30,000 and 50,000 miles. Rear drum brakes can last up to 150,000 miles.

5. Neglecting Fluid Checks

Many car owners assume that their oil is the only fluid that needs to be checked and changed. Yes, your car’s oil is important, but there are other fluids that also be checked, replaced or topped off, including:

  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Engine coolant

All of these fluids should be checked and serviced at the intervals recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Regular inspections will help prevent leaks and ensure that your vehicle is operating as it should be.

6. Failing to Change Your Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are an important safety feature on your vehicle. Over time and with use, your vehicle’s wipers start to degrade and can leave streaks on your windshield that obstruct your vision.

It’s important to change your vehicle’s wipers regularly and before they wear out completely.

7. Neglecting Tire Rotations and Wheel Alignments

It’s easy to forget about tire rotations and wheel alignments because they don’t have to be done often. A misalignment can go unnoticed.

Failing to rotate your tires or align your wheels can lead to a number of issues, including uneven treadwear. Ask your mechanic to check your car’s alignment regularly, and have your tires rotated every 6,000-8,000 miles.

8. Ignoring Your Check Engine Light

Your vehicle’s Check Engine light is there to alert you of problems that need to be fixed. Yes, occasionally, this light will come on if there are no obvious signs of trouble. And when this happens, many car owners just continue driving and put repairs on their to-do list for later.

If you ignore your check engine light, you may be driving with potential engine problems, and those problems will only get worse if you don’t fix the problem quickly.

If your Check Engine light is on, have your car checked by an ASE-certified technician. Use your Fixd OBD-II scanner (or some other scanner) to figure out why your light is on.

9. Failing to Change Your Air Filter

Air filters are easy to overlook, but they play an important role on your car engine’s health. Filters allow clean air to enter the engine and help the carburetor with combustion.

Dirty air filters can hinder your fuel economy and hinder your car’s air supply, which only makes your engine work harder. Have your air filters changed at the interval recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

10. Servicing Your Car Without the Know-How

There are several maintenance tasks that you can do yourself. Changing an air filter, for example, is pretty easy to do and doesn’t require any special skill or experience.

But there are some things that should be left to the professionals. Modern vehicles have an array of sensors which regulate things like spark plugs, fuel injectors, idle speed and other functions.

Because vehicles are now computerized, repairs are often more complicated than you might think. If your car needs repairs that are beyond the simple basics, bring it to a certified technician to ensure that the repairs are done properly. If you attempt to make these repairs yourself and something goes wrong, you may wind up spending even more to fix your mistakes.

November 18, 2019


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Picture this: You’re driving down the highway, when all of a sudden your check engine light comes on. Your car had been driving a little funny, but nothing too out of the ordinary. In a panic, you pull over off the road and call a tow truck.

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