If you’ve never considered what goes in to caring for your vehicle before, here are the two things that every car owner needs to know about auto repair.
Don’t Skip on Regular Maintenance
Any medical professional (or health insurance salesman) will tell you that the best way to keep healthcare costs down is to keep up with your regular checkups. Preventing a disease is far cheaper than treating it. If you skip the doctor for five years and are diagnosed with high blood pressure once you finally go back, you’ll probably be put on costly prescription meds. Had you shown up for your annual physical, your doc probably could have helped you figure out some easy lifestyle changes to prevent your high blood pressure before it even started.
Well, just like your body needs regular maintenance, so does your car. If you try to save a little bit of money and time here and there by avoiding oil changes, letting your tire treads wear away, or ignoring your check engine light, then you are going to pay for it in the long run. The average cost to have all four tires changed is a little over $550. Compare that to the $900 dollars of damage that could be dealt to your steering rack in the event of a blowout, and that’s just one of the many systems that could be damaged. So, read your owner’s manual, know when your parts need to be replaced, and see your mechanic often.
Do Skip the Unnecessary Upsells
While we don’t want you to avoid the shop, we do want you to go in ready to say “no”. If you thought dealerships made a lot of money on sales, you should see the numbers they rake in from repairs. They know that you don’t know much about cars, and that you’re probably more scared of vehicle failure than you are of being ripped off. Next time you are at the repair shop, think twice before they try to upsell you on these jobs.
Frequent Oil Changes. Despite the fact that modern cars can drive for almost 10,000 miles between oil changes, most shops still tell you to come back after 3,000. This is, of course, so that they can have more opportunities to upsell you. Your owner’s manual will give you the truth on how frequently your oil needs to be changed. While you’re at it, don’t let them replace the oil filter with every oil change. Unless you live in a really dusty area, you’ve only got to swap it out every 30,000 miles or so.
Coolant Flushes. If the guys at the shop sell you on this every other visit, it’s a good sign you need to find a new mechanic. Your coolant only needs to be flushed once every two years (or every 100,000 miles if you make it that far in two years). This is a favorite upsell because the salesman can drop words like “buildup” and “gunk”, which do a pretty good job of scaring your wallet open.
There might be more to auto repair, but if you aren’t the do-it-yourself kind of person, these two tips should help ensure that you keep your car running without breaking the bank.