However, vehicle maintenance can be a bit confusing for people who don’t know much about cars or who haven’t been exposed to the dos and don’ts of proper service. To help you out, here is a list of vehicle service mistakes owners typically make and how to avoid them.
Ignoring the check engine light
Modern cars can have a lot of lights that illuminate for all sorts of reasons. Probably the most important one is the general check engine light, which will light up for issues ranging from spark plug problems to engine sensor failure to a loose gas cap. The problem is, this light will often turn on when there are no visible signs of trouble. Because of that, many car owners can become complacent and put off bringing their vehicles into the mechanic. However, driving with possible engine problems can lead to much larger, more expensive issues down the road.
Neglecting oil changes
Although vehicles today may not need oil changes every 3,000 miles, they still require regular changes based on your manufacturer’s recommendation. Similar to the check engine light, drivers can often become complacent with oil changes. Whether your car has an oil change indicator or you have a sticker on your windshield from your last change, life happens, we are busy, and people will procrastinate when it comes to bringing their vehicle in for fresh oil. The problem with delaying is that oil will begin to break down if it is too old, leading to sludge deposits in your engine that can harm components. Whatever cost and time an oil change takes, it will be much less than major engine damage in the future.
Putting off tire rotations and wheel alignments
Misaligned tires and failing to rotate them regularly can lead to accelerated and uneven tread wear. We often forget about alignments and rotations, because they are only completed every 5,000-10,000 miles or so, and the effects of not getting them done are often not noticeable at first. But if put off too long, you may need a whole new set of tires.
Ignoring tire pressure
As long as our tires don’t have an obvious flat, most of us probably don’t think about them too much on a day to day basis. However, it is important to check and be aware of your tire pressure regularly. Low tire pressure can greatly reduce fuel economy and increase the risk of a blowout, so it is important to check your tire pressure at least once per month. This practice is especially crucial in wintry weather, as tires can lose one to two pounds of pressure for every 10°F drop in ambient temperature.
Not checking all your fluids
Nearly everyone knows that cars need their oil changed at regular intervals. What a lot of those people might not realize is that there are other critical engine fluids that also need to be checked and changed periodically. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine coolant, and power steering fluid should all be checked and serviced as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Checking all fluids helps to avoid leaks and keep your vehicle operating properly.
Brakes are one of the most important components in your car and are the last things you want not functioning correctly. Nevertheless, they are often overlooked by car owners, even if they are making abnormal squealing, grinding, or squeaking noises. Some drivers simply become used to the noises and think that that’s just the way their brakes are. However, these sounds can be indications of serious issues, and if you hear them, you should have your brake system looked at as soon as possible.
Old windshield wipers
Windshield wipers are relatively cheap and easy to replace, and yet many people often neglect doing so. Especially living in a place like Chicago, the last thing you want is to be driving in bad weather and unable to see, because your wipers are too old and ineffective. Keep an eye out for streaks on the windshield and cracks in the blades and, when in doubt, we recommend changing them about every six months or so.
Maintaining your vehicle can be a lot of work, but not doing so will cost you even more down the road. Don’t worry, at HEART Certified Auto Care we are here to help! We can handle any repairs or maintenance your car needs, complete 98% of service the same day, and give free inspections with photos to show you what’s needed.
Stop by one of our three Chicago area locations, HEART Wilmette, HEART Evanston, or HEART Northbrook.