Maintenance Items Your Mechanic Hopes You Ignore

February 28, 2011

Believe it or not there are some auto maintenance procedures that the repair shop hopes that you don't have done. These are true pay me now or pay me later jobs that generate more work for the shop if you ignore the recommended service interval or don't respond to obvious cues of an impending failure.

Replacing the timing belt is number one on the list of maintenance jobs that when ignored can turn into an expensive repair. Recommended replacement intervals can range from about 80,000 miles to possibly 115,000 miles depending on the manufacturer. We treated this topic in When To Replace Your Timing Belt which emphasized the timely replacement of the belt.

In short, if your engine is engineered in a certain way, the cost of repairs to correct damage caused by a belt that breaks while driving can exceed the value of the car. Is it any wonder that a repair shop may have mixed feelings about your commitment to perform the preventative timing belt replacement?

An oil change, regardless of whether it is prompted by an oil change reminder system like GM's oil life feature or just a windshield sticker, can be the front line in the battle against unforeseen failures.

If you are a frequent reader of All Car Advice you have heard this before (6 oil change articles in the past year), but it remains undeniable that an oil change offers the opportunity for a qualified technician to evaluate your vehicle. It is only when the facility turns the event into the chance to sell unneeded repairs that the reason for committing to frequent oil changes becomes counterproductive.

A brake check is recommended by your owner's manual at about 15,000 miles and then every 5,000 miles thereafter until the brake pads are replaced. Waiting can hurt because the brake rotors may not be able to be machined or reused if the brake pads are entirely worn out. The brake rotors can cost much more than resurfacing depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

Your repair shop may not care whether you religiously check the brakes or not because waiting will only drive the price of the brake job up not down.

Ignoring an overheating condition could be as bad as it gets when it comes to potential damage to your car's engine. The problem is that the damage is both immediate and long term. The aftermath of driving with an overheating engine is damage to the radiator, water pump, and hoses in the near term. Long term, internal engine damage can occur including but not limited to blowing out the head gasket.

So the next time you look at what preventative maintenance work is scheduled to be done to your car remember that the repair shop may hope that you just keep procrastinating.           

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