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Routine Car Maintenance

Your vehicle is best able to remain in optimal condition, ensuring your safety and ability to rely on your vehicle, when appropriate routine maintenance is performed in a timely manner.

Many automobile owners fail to perform tasks they may view as less critical in a timely manner. Often, we only consider whether it’s time for an oil change, or an inspection, for instance. By the time you bring your vehicle in for the needed service, a number of other problems may have cropped up, leading to a situation where your mechanic is forced to surprise you with unexpected and potentially costly repairs. This can lead to frustration, and sometimes even a feeling of being victimized, damaging your relationship with your mechanic if you feel like every time you bring in your vehicle your mechanic takes advantage of you. The truth is, many routine maintenance tasks can easily be performed by yourself, or a friend if you’re not vehicle savvy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is bring out your owner’s manual. Every vehicle has a time frame for many routine maintenance tasks that is specific to your vehicle. The owner’s manual can provide you with a detailed schedule for how often you’ll need to change your oil, filters, and drive belts or timing belts, for example. While you may prefer to have your mechanic handle the messy or more complicated maintenance tasks, you will now know exactly when you’ll need to schedule them. This means you can also avoid a situation where a dealership service advisor may be looking to make a commission by recommending work before it’s really necessary. In this case, knowledge is definitely empowering.

A general guideline for some common maintenance tasks has been provided below.

Windshield wiper blades should be changed every 6 to 12 months, or immediately upon noticing streaking during use. Expect these to cost between $10 and $30 on average.

The average car battery is expected to last about 5 years, but should be replaced sooner if your battery begins to show signs of imminent failure. The replacement cost is around $60 to $200.

About every 30,000 miles, or as recommended by your manufacturer in the owner’s manual, you’ll need to replace your air filter. The average cost of replacement is $15 to $50. Power steering fluid should be replaced in this range as well.

Every 45,000 miles, or sooner if you see signs of wear, you’ll need to consider replacing your tires. Depending on the model and year of your vehicle, prices could range from about $50 to $400 per tire. This is a good marker for replacing spark plugs and wires as well.

At 50,000 miles, brake pads and fluids ($50 to $100 total) and drive belts ($10 to $50 per belt) are due for replacement.

Coolant hoses should be replaced around 60,000 to 75,000 miles, at a cost of around $15 to $50 per hose.

Learn to check and refill your fluids, inspect your tires, inspect and maintain your battery and clean the contacts, change your wiper blades, and perform an overall general inspection of your vehicle to save money and prevent the need for major repairs by being aware of your vehicle’s routine care requirements.

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