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Top Car Maintenance Mistakes that cost you $$.

Modern cars require a lot less maintenance than Grandpa’s Oldsmobile used to.  Gone are the days of adjusting valves, frequent tune ups and 3,000 mile oil changes.   Some still insist on the old way of doing things while other busy owners run their cars without service until the dash warning lights come on.  In either case you end up spending more in the long run.

Here are the top Maintenance Mistakes people make that cost them $$:

Improper Tire Inflation and Rotation
Tires leak naturally and need the occasional check. Cars with underinflated tires use more gasoline. Under- or overinflated tires wear out sooner and deliver the same emergency maneuver handling as marshmallows. Not checking your tire pressure monthly costs you big in gas and premature replacement. Furthermore, front and rear tires wear differently and should be rotated to even that wear. Your owner's manual will have a recommendation on both pressure and rotation periods.

There are no more "tune-ups." Valves no longer need adjusting, ignition timing is computer controlled and there are no carburetors to fiddle with. About all that's left of the good ol’ tune-up are the spark plugs. These are often good for 60-100,000 miles, so don't change parts just to change parts. Instead, save up for those big 60,000- and 120,000-mile services when the timing belt, spark plug wires and coolant are due for replacement.

Octane Overdose
While not really “maintenance”, this can cost you big.  Unless you just like giving the oil companies extra profit, higher-than-required octane does not yield more power or mileage.  Modern engines computers adjust to the octane level in the fuel.  Even cars that “require” 91 can run just fine on 87 with no damage and will not void any warranty.   Run regular gas if puttering around town and use premium only if full-throttle driving is part of your daily routine.

Oil Change Timing
Oil changes every 3,000 miles used to be norm, just like cleaning the accumulated fuzz from record player needles or using ice picks to defrost freezers. Today, however, advances in engine design and lubricants make oil changes something to be done when the schedule calls for it, not when granddad says it's time. Some cars call for 5,000-mile change intervals, while others have a variable timer. Follow the schedule and use the oil called for by the manufacturer. 

Dirty Air Filter
Semi-clogged air filters effects your engine in the same way you wouldn’t want to run with a potato in your mouth. The question is, when is your filter dirty? Use common sense. If you drive on or around dirt, the air filter may need changing a lot sooner than the schedule calls for. Not replacing or cleaning it will cost you at the pump.

Ignoring Your Brakes
 If you notice anything different about your brakes, sound, feel or response, see a mechanic, now. The pads on your brakes are designed to wear out but if you wait too long and they completely wear out you will be “metal to metal” instead of “pad to metal” and damage the rotors costing you a lot more to fix your brakes than if you had replaced them before they completely wore out.

Tom Csibor is the owner of Toms Re Store Auto Sales and Service on 40724 Winding Way in Oakhurst and is a certified ASE Master technician. 

Next edition:  The top expensive repairs and what you can do to avoid them.


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