- Rose Kennedy For the AJC
Forget or ignore your car's maintenance needs at your peril, warns auto authority AAA.
The agency’s data showed that skipped maintenance caused literally millions of breakdowns each year and that consumers who don't keep up with maintenance ultimately pay higher repair costs.
"Repair facilities estimate drivers can save an average of one hundred dollars per visit simply by properly maintaining their vehicle," noted John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
But does keeping up with maintenance mean paying for every service under the sun?
Not at all, according to Bank Rate, which noted, "Sales pitches by fast-and-furious oil change shops and service centers touting all sorts of fluid flushes and lube jobs have Americans wasting wads of cash on unnecessary service items, particularly on newer vehicles."
A glaring example of unnecessary maintenance is changing the engine oil too often, Bank Rate said. "It used to be normal to recommend an oil change every 3,000 miles. However, with modern lubricants, most newer engines today have recommended oil change intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles. If the engine in your car requires full-synthetic motor oil, it might go as far as 15,000 miles between services."
Sorting out the heavy-handed sales pitches from the very necessary maintenance that will save you money is largely a matter of consulting the owner's manual, according to AAA.
Tire rotation: Uneven wear results when you don't rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or so.
Brake pads: Proper care of brake pads assures they'll work when you need them, and Bank Rate noted that worn brake pads can also damage crucial components of the braking system. That added damage will up the amount you spend on repairs in the future. Better to change your brake pads at least every 60,000 miles.
Transmission flush: While you shouldn't opt for this service on every visit to the auto repair shop or oil change provider, the transmission does need care "once in a while" Bank Rate said. It recommended fresh transmission fluid and a clean filter at least every 100,000 miles.
Tuneups: Opt for a tuneup, which means replacing fouled spark plugs and worn spark plug wires, every 60,000 miles if you want your vehicle to continue to run properly.
Radiator flush: This is one of the fluids you can judge by looking at it. Radiator coolant gets dirty cycling through the engine and needs changing at least every 60,000 miles and more often if it looks dirty. Have the radiator flushed on the same schedule.