Car Care Tips

Automotive Maintenance Tips

The nationwide average of maintaining a car is $500 to $700/year. The nationwide average for repairing a vehicle when it breaks (not performing scheduled maintenance) is $1400 to $1800/year. It is more cost effective to perform scheduled maintenance than to manage by crisis (when the car breaks).

Key automotive maintenance tips:

Regular Oil Changes: Perform every 3000 miles (every 3 months for most drivers). At each oil change all fluids (transmission, etc) should be checked along with the air filter and tire pressure. Rotate tires every other oil change. Brakes will be checked at this time. Balance tires once/year.

Cooling System: Belts and hoses should be replaced every four years. Use new clamps on hoses. Replenish antifreeze and use a 50 % antifreeze 50% water mixture. Never use over a mixture with over 60% antifreeze as the effectiveness is greatly reduced in stronger mixtures. Never mix antifreezes of different colors.

Transmission Fluid: Overheating of the automatic transmission because of old and dirty fluid causes 90% of all transmission failures. Rebuilding an automatic transmission typically costs $2000 to $3000. Cost of flushing is typically $110. Manual or automatic transmissions should be serviced every two years or 30,000 miles.

Power Steering Fluid: The power steering pump produces 800-2000 PSI of pressure and high heat. Heat and pressure will break down the fluid over time. To avoid costly repairs have the steering fluid services every 2 years or 30,000 miles.

Brakes and Brake Fluid: Brake wear depends a lot on driving habits. Brake fluid is designed to absorb moisture to keep the fluid from getting too hot and boiling. If the brake fluid becomes saturated with moisture, it can reach temperatures of 1200 degrees. Brake fluid should be flushed every two to three years to prevent moisture saturation. Brake lines should be flushed and bled with each brake job.

Air Conditioning: Air conditioning is designed to lose several ounces of refrigerant each year. The older the system, the more it will lose. Refrigerant and oil seeping through the rubber hoses keep them from getting brittle and breaking. If your vehicle does not seem to get very cold, it probably needs new refrigerant. This is typically needed every two to three years.

Suspension: Needs to be checked periodically as these parts will wear. Shocks normally need to be replaced every 50,000 miles. Worn shocks will increase stopping distances in panic stops.

Alignment: Every two years or more depending on road conditions. Incorrect alignment not only can cause tire wear, but also the loss of gas mileage.

Fuel Injection Flush and Fuel Filter Replacement: Recommended every two years or 30,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Common problems associated with deposits in the fuel and air induction system are:

a. Decreased mileage, loss of power.
b. Rough idle and hard starting.
c. Hesitation, misfire, and pinging.
d. Knocking, increased emissions.