Top Car Maintenance Mistakes

Ask any owner of the several well-documented, million-mile cars how their vehicles lasted so long.  We presume none will advocate years of car maintenance mistakes as the key to long car life.  Steer clear of these mistakes to keep rolling.

Ignoring oil and other fluid/filter changes.  It is so fundamental and yet so ignored.  Procrastinating oil and oil filter changes does not buy time, it hastens more expense.  Failing to check oil regularly (with each fill-up of the tank, for example) is simply asking for trouble.  Other fluids like coolant and brake fluid have longer service life, but they are not designed to last the life of the car.  The oil, air and cabin filters can easily be overlooked.

Overheating.  Misinformed owners might reason that if the coolant reservoir is at a good level, there is no cause for alarm.  Not so, because if that is the case and overheating occurs, there are deeper problems to diagnose.

Factory-recommended maintenance.  A typical owner’s manual will lay out items to inspect and address at each major mileage interval, however unnecessary it may seem.    Within them, a car’s timing belt is easy to shrug off, often at 90,000 miles or so.  A broken timing belt means you can’t continue driving the vehicle, period.  Depending on engine design, it may cause substantial internal engine damage.

DIY gone awry.  When a vehicle owner becomes inspired to perform his or her own repairs, it is too often without correct parts, tools, know-how or a combination of all.  Saving money and self-fulfillment are important, but being too bold here usually has bad (read: expensive) results.

Tires: alignment, inflation, rotation.  Simply checking and adjusting cold tire pressure once in a while will give you more miles on your tires.  Periodic alignment will keep gas mileage up.  And rotations should only be done in the pattern outlined in your owner’s manual.

Misguided overspending.  Examples could be using higher-octane premium gas in an engine that cannot benefit from it or self-adjust its timing to accommodate.  Conversely to an earlier point, some change oil far too often.  It doesn’t immediately cause harm, but this car maintenance mistake robs owners of funds to keep up necessary, everyday functionality of the car.

Ignoring warning signs.  And warning lights, for that matter.  Warning signs range from unfamiliar noises that are more than just typical rattles, to burning or unfamiliar smells.  Never does turning up the radio qualify as an acceptable repair.  And as genuinely frustrating as the Check Engine light can be, it does draw attention to diagnose potential problems.

Brakes. Folks have to remember that braking effectiveness diminishes and components wear out.  Brake fluid has to be changed every two years or so, and the components themselves inspected for wear.
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