Gone are the days when we, as drivers, had a long checklist of things we needed to do to keep our cars running and on the road. If fact, today’s cars are so easy to care for that we sometimes forget that they do still need routine service or we downplay the importance of completing crucial services like oil changes and tire rotations. Mistakes we commonly make such as skipping significant service milestones, some people also perform services on the wrong schedule or do things that are no longer needed and sometimes not even good for their car.
Here are some of the most common maintenance mistakes many car owners make. Avoid them and you may be able to avoid a huge repair bill while also preserving the value of your car and protecting your safety.
Mistake #1 – Getting the Wrong Grade
Don’t assume that just because one grade of gas costs more and has a higher octane that it is automatically better. There are cars that are designed to run best on higher octane fuel and if yours is one of them, it would be a mistake to go low. The key is making sure you are using the right grade for your car. Check the owner’s manual if you are unclear about which grade of gas you should be using.
Mistake #2 – Optional Oil Changes
Whether you are the one who decides that 3,000 miles really means 12,000 miles or the one whose granddad believes that the oil change must be changed at 3,000 miles every time no matter what, you may be making a costly mistake. While there is no danger to your car if you are changing the oil more often than necessary, you are incurring costs that you don’t need to be. However, if the owner’s manual and your repair shop say 3,000 miles and you push it past 10,000, you may be in for a rude awakening if your engine seizes and the $100 you saved on two oil changes ends up costing you the price of a new engine.
Mistake #3 – Pretending You Don’t Know What that Light on the Dashboard Means
This can lead to a variety of problems depending on which light you are trying to ignore. If it is the Check Engine light, the problem could be as simple as a bad tank of gas or as serious as impending engine failure. If it is the Tire Pressure light, you may be endangering your life for the $.50 and 5 minutes it would take to stop at the gas station and put some air in the tire that’s low. Pretending that dashboard indicator lights are minor, can be ignored, or simply don’t exist isn’t likely to get you anywhere except stuck on the side of the road wishing you had taken care of the problem sooner.
Even though we no longer need to take our car in for a tune-up or carry a quart of oil and a gallon of water in the trunk to make sure we can always get where we are going, we still need to be diligent about adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule provided by our car manufacturer. If you are unsure about any routine maintenance, ask your repair shop for their recommendation.