Comprehensive Guide on Car Repair and Maintenance
Routine car repair and maintenance schedules are essential to keeping your vehicle in good working order, not to mention helping it retain its resale value. Regular maintenance on a car can also reduce your cost of repairs; by taking care of something small like an oil change, you can avoid paying for a major repair like fixing your engine. How much you'll need to pay for that maintenance depends on your vehicle's age, mileage, and specific make.
What are Car Maintenance Service Schedules?
In most owner's manuals, you'll find a section labeled either "Car Maintenance Schedule" or "Vehicle Maintenance Schedule". It should tell you what types of services your car will require and how often they need to be completed. Standard preventative maintenance for cars includes:
- Cleaning and maintaining oil levels
- Changing Filters (oil, air, etc.)
- Regular tire rotation
- Maintaining tire pressure
- Changing brake pads
- Changing lights (headlights, brake lights, turn signals, parking lights)
- Maintaining fluid levels
- Maintaining a certain level of tread depth
Your owner's manual usually recommends completing these tasks after a set number of miles or months. For example, an oil change will be done every 3,000 to 5,000 miles (depending on your type of vehicle.)
What is the Cost of Car Maintenance and Repair?
Again, how much a specific automotive maintenance and repair task will cost depends on your specific vehicle. Some average maintenance costs include:
- Oil Change: $20-$90
- Tire Rotation: $0*-$50 (Some companies will offer free rotations when you buy a set of tires)
- Replacing Wiper Blades: $5-$20
- Getting New Tires: $45-$350 per tire
- Replacing Brake Pads: $90-$400
- Replacing Engine Air Filter: $15-$80
Based on rough averages, you can expect to pay between $50-$150 per month to maintain your vehicle. This number will be higher if you have a luxury car and lower if you have a more affordable vehicle.
Tips for Car Maintenance:
Use a Vehicle Maintenance Checklist
Whether a particular section of your car needs maintenance is determined by what function it serves: something like a check engine light may require immediate service, while less frequent car repairs and maintenance tasks can be done once every 3, 6, or even 12 months.
Every Two Years
Annual maintenance will include checking anything related to your vehicle's ignition system. This means:
- Spark plugs
- Plug wires
More critical components of your ignition system, like your car's battery, will only need to be changed every three to five years. Still, it's good to test your battery one to two times a year. You'll also want to change your transmission fluid yearly or every 35,000 to 65,000 miles.
Brakes, shocks, and struts are all good areas to inspect once a year; any worn or broken parts should be replaced. These will be the pads, linings, and rotors for your brakes. You should also make sure your brake fluid is at the correct level. You'll also need to flush your coolant system and replace the fluid once a year, and any air filters in your car should be changed.
Twice a Year
Getting your tires rotated is a good maintenance task to take care of every six months, along with an inspection of your exhaust system. You may also need to have your battery tested every six months if it is more than three years old, as this is about when they begin to break down.
Every Three Months
While it's more important to observe how much mileage you've accrued since your last oil change, getting one every three months doesn't hurt. Some synthetic oil types can last as long as 10,000 miles, so make sure to check to see whether you are changing your oil too often. There are several other components to check every three months, including:
- Power Steering Fluid
- Wiper Blades
While none of these are major systems on their own, each serves a vital purpose in keeping your car running. Even your wiper blades, which may seem trivial, are essential for allowing you to see the road in adverse weather conditions.
Monthly maintenance is usually a bit easier, with many tasks involving a simple check or topping off a fluid. You'll want to ensure all your lights are working, including your turn signals, brake lights, parking lights, and fog lights (commonly known as "brights"). It's also good to do a tread depth and tire pressure check, along with a topping off your oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid.
Frequently Asked Questions about Car repairs and Maintenance
What is a Vehicle Maintenance Log?
A vehicle maintenance log details all maintenance performed on one specific vehicle. These are usually separated into individual entries containing a date, current mileage, and information about what type of maintenance was completed. Automotive professionals usually use a vehicle maintenance log, but any car owner can keep a log concerning work and repairs done on their vehicle.
What is the Monthly Cost of Owning a Car?
While the average car payment is close to $450, how much your car costs every month will depend heavily on several factors:
- The cost of gas
- Whether it needs any repairs
- Your monthly lease or loan payments
To make sure that a car stays within your budget, it's good to estimate what you can afford before you sign a lease or loan. The best way to do that is with a lease or loan calculator, like the free one available from GoodCar.
How Often Should I Do Truck Maintenance?
Routine maintenance for cars and trucks is virtually the same, with more frequent maintenance done if the vehicle is used for work purposes. On average, you'll need to take your truck in for maintenance every 15,000 miles. You'll also want to ensure that all fluid levels are maintained and complete regular oil changes.
How Often Should You Change Your Oil?
How often you change your oil depends on your oil type: some newer synthetic oils can last as long as 10-15,000 miles. On average, you'll want to change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, with some vehicles making it safely to 7,500 miles before any adverse effects.
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