Frustrated woman with incompetent mechanic in background
Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

There is an old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  We are all guilty of neglecting things from time to time and our cars are no exception, life gets busy and before you know it your 1000 miles overdue for that oil change (I hope that’s not just me) and you just don’t know when you’ll find the time to take care of it.  I get it.  But, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned something, that old saying couldn’t be more accurate.  When it comes to your car, procrastination can leads to expensive problems.  Here is a list of the top ten mistakes car owners make that, if neglected,  can lead to the most expensive repairs:

  1. Ignoring the check engine light.  Maybe it’s nothing, but what if it’s not. I don’t need to emphasize how expensive engine repairs can be.  Better safe than sorry, go get it checked out.
  2. Driving with an overheated vehicle.  It could be a faulty thermostat, but it could be a leak in your coolant system or worse.
  3. Putting of your scheduled maintenance, it’s not just a suggestion.  Your owners manual includes the recommended scheduled maintenance for a reason, it’s important to keep your car running at it’s best.
  4. Trying to service your own car without really knowing what you’re doing.  It might be tempting to save a few bucks by going the DIY route, but if your mechanical know-how is anything like mine, you’re better off to pay the professionals to do it right the first time.
  5. Putting off oil changes.   This is a big one.  Oil lubricates the moving parts in your engine.  Can you imagine the kind of damage that can occur without that lubrication?  You might be saying to yourself,  “well, I run well over the recommended frequency of my oil changes all the time and my car seems fine”.   Just because the engine isn’t seizing up doesn’t mean damage isn’t occurring.  As your oil filter becomes clogged with dirt and debris the oil becomes thick and dirty, possible bypassing the filter altogether and sending that sludge right through your engine and damaging it over time.  Don’t put this off.
  6. Letting fluids run dry.  Check brake, coolant and transmission fluids regularly, Im sure I don’t need to say how expensive it can be to replace a transmission but I’ll say it anyway.  It’s really expensive.
  7. Not maintaining adequate tire pressure.  Don’t rely on a visual inspection, your tires may be low and you can’t see it.  If you don’t know how to do this, take your car to a service professional and have them checked.  Driving with under inflated tires can wear them quickly leading to costly replacements.  Newer cars are equipped with a warning symbol on the dash (see previous post) to alert you when tire pressure is below the recommended level.
  8. Maintaining proper tire alignment.  This makes sure all of your tires are pointing forward at the right angle.  Does your car “pull” to the right or left?  Alignment may be the issue, and can lead to wear and tire replacement.
  9. Washing your rear window with household window cleaner.  Have you ever noticed there is “automotive class cleaner” and wondered what the difference is?  Automotive glass cleaner contains no ammonia.  Ammonia breaks down the heating elements in your rear window defroster.  Don’t use Windex, get the good stuff that’s just for cars.
  10. Last but definitely not least, Taking your car to an unqualified shop.  It may be tempting to use Joe Schmoe because he’ll do the work at a fraction of the price, but this is just one of those times when forking out the cash on the front end and hiring a qualified service center could save you from having to spend a small fortune on repairs or maybe even a new car.  Trust me on this one.

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