Category Archives: regular car maintenance

young man stranded by overheating car

The Lazy Car Owner’s Car Maintenance Checklist (By Mileage)

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Your car needs regular vehicle maintenance to ensure that your car stays on the road longer and with less breakdowns. Regular battery checks keep you from being stranded with a dead battery. Regular transmission flushes protect against premature transmission failures. The list of vehicle maintenance and benefits from maintaining a car maintenance schedule can go on and on.

You can find a complete car maintenance checklist in your vehicle owner’s manual, but who has time for that? If you’re a car owner who doesn’t, this car maintenance schedule can help keep your car running better and longer. A well-maintained vehicle is also easier to sell and can bring you a higher resale price. Contact (and get to know) a local trusted mechanic who can keep your car on the road and the boxes checked off on your car maintenance checklist.

Car Maintenance Every 3,000 miles

___Use tire pressure gauge to check tire pressure & fill up as needed

___Check oil level

___Inspect windshield washer

___Turn on headlights and tail lights to see if there are any burned out bulbs

___ Check transmission fluid level

___ Inspect vehicle belts and hoses for rips, wear and tear

___ Examine car battery and cables for corrosion and damage

___Check tire tread for amount of tread (every 3,000 miles and more often as the tires wear)

___ Change the oil (every 3-10,000 miles depending on the type of oil and auto manufacturer recommendations)

Every 15-30,000 miles

___Replace the cabin air filter

___ Purchase a new air filter (If the vehicle is driven on dusty roads, the air filter should be replaced every 15,000 miles.)

Every 30,000 miles

___ Have new tires mounted and balanced (every 30-60,000 miles depending on the type of tires, amount of miles driven, and amount of tire tread)

___ Replace spark plugs (every 30-100,000 miles depending on the spark plug specifications, earlier if these signs of worn spark plugs are present)

___ Flush the power steering fluid (every 30-100,000 fluid, have the system inspected if fluid level is low)

___ Replace vehicle brakes (approximately every 25-70,000 miles, earlier if there are any signs of worn brakes)

___ Inspect the fuel pump

Every 50-60,000 miles

___Flush the automatic transmission fluid (every 50-150,000 miles, earlier if the transmission fluid is dark red or brown)

___ Replace the battery (typically every 3-5 years, earlier if the battery show signs of a failing battery)

___ Replace the fuel pump (every 60-90,000 miles depending on condition)

Car Maintenance You Shouldn’t Put Off

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You don’t want to get in an accident. You don’t want your car to breakdown. You don’t want to go in the ditch, and you certainly don’t want to pay for a tow truck to come get you. So why are you putting off regular car maintenance?

Though car maintenance appointments may seem like a hassle, car maintenance is IMPORTANT—both for extending the life of your car and keeping money in your pocketbook. Putting off regular car maintenance can damage other parts of your car or cause engine or transmission failure, all of which cost you more money throughout the life of your car. So what car maintenance should you stay on top of?

  1. Oil changes. An engine without regular oil changes is an engine that costs their owner thousands of dollars over the life of the car. The cost of regular oil changes and time spent saves car owners money and inconvenience when your car breaks down. Ask your car mechanic how often you need an oil change, as the amount of miles can vary depending on the type of oil used.
  2. Tires checked and rotated. Regular rotation of your tires ensures that tires wear evenly, and can even prevent surprise flat tires. An inspection of your tires can also find holes that allow air to leak slowly.
  3. Brakes. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet. If the squeak doesn’t go away, or if the noise is a grinding noise, your vehicle needs attention. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.
  4. Disgusting air filter. We won’t tell you how disgusting your air filter can get, but we will tell you that part of your regular car maintenance should include replacing or cleaning that gross air filter. A dirty air filter can choke your engine of air, causing performance issues and damage over the life of your car.

In addition, track the age of your spark plugs and battery, two car parts that are integral to a smooth-starting and running car. Spark plugs should be changed every 30,000-100,000 miles, depending on the kind of spark plugs in your car. Car batteries can show signs of age every 3-5 years, and usually give car owners clues that it’s time for car battery replacement. If you don’t know the age of your spark plugs or car battery, have your mechanic check your spark plugs and battery at your next oil change appointment. Don’t put the appointment off. Schedule an appointment for your car today for the sake of you and your pocketbook.

5 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask Your Mechanic (But Shouldn’t Be)

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car repairAre you afraid to take your car into the shop? Worried about what the mechanic will find? Take a deep breath. It’s time to face your mechanic because car maintenance and repairs are essential to keep your car in good working order and you stay on the road. Now is the time to put that fear aside, talk to your mechanic and ask questions about the scope of work your car needs:

  1. How much will this cost? Ask for a quote for major car repairs. If you have a limit of what you can spend on repairs for your car, let the mechanic or service clerk know to contact you if they find any other issues when making repairs.
  2. As long as I am in, can you check…? Don’t be afraid to bring an issue to the mechanic’s attention. If you have your car in for an oil change, it’s better to ask about a thump or clunk now. If the mechanic finds a problem, don’t expect repairs to be made immediately. Remember mechanics have appointments and schedules to keep. If you bring a potential issue to their attention, and the mechanic finds a problem, make another appointment to get it fixed.
  3. Is there a warranty on the parts and work? You’re not insulting a mechanic by asking about a warranty. You need to know your rights when you get a lemon battery that doesn’t work correctly a year after purchase, or when another part fails. Be aware, though, that the failure is not always clear-cut, and can be caused by another part that needs replacement or by an unrelated repair.
  4. How long does the repair work take? Mechanics have appointment schedules to meet, and so do you. You’re not being rude by asking how long you need to sit and wait, or whether you need to make alternate arrangements for transportation while your car is in the shop.
  5. Does this work need to be done now? Some repairs can be made in another appointment, such as when your brakes or tires are starting to wear. However, if your brake pads are squealing, you’re hearing a warning noise the manufacturer installed to let you know that brake replacement is needed as soon as possible. If your mechanic does tell you that you can wait, don’t wait too long to bring your car in. You don’t want to get in an accident or go in the ditch because you didn’t get the work done.

If your mechanic is at a new shop that you haven’t visited, ask about ASE-certification and payment options. ASE certification is a sign of quality work, and is awarded to mechanics who pass ASE tests. If you’re on a budget, ask the shop before you take in your car about payment options and plans in case your car needs more work than you can afford. Once these basic questions are answered, it’s time to put the fear aside and schedule an appointment to get your car maintenance up-to-date and find out if any more work needs to be done.

Spring Car Maintenance

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engineWinter is hard on a car. That’s why it’s your job as a responsible car owner to take spring as an opportunity to get your car inspected and ready for the next hard season for your car, summer (yes, it will come someday Wisconsin, be patient). Spring is the time to get your faithful tires checked after a hard winter of driving, your car aligned after sliding into a pole, and to get other important components of your car checked, corrected and ready for summer:

Alignment. Hard winter driving can knock your car’s alignment off, causing your tires to wear unevenly and need replacement prematurely. If your car pulls to the left or right, your steering wheel does not stay straight when driving or your tires wear unevenly, your car needs an alignment. A car with alignment issues wears through tires faster and has more costs due to undue wear on suspension parts.

Tire wear. Have an experienced mechanic check your tires to see that they wear evenly, and the amount of tread wear left. If the tire wear is low, your tires need to be replaced. If your tires are wearing unevenly, your car needs an alignment to prevent future breakdowns from undue wear on suspension parts.

Battery. Believe it or not, the Wisconsin heat is harder on batteries than winter cold. If your batteries are low from hard starts during winter, or shows one of these other signs of a dying battery, the summer heat is about to leave you stranded from a low battery.

Brakes. If your brakes are making any of these noises, it’s time to replace the pads or rotors that you need to safely stop. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet, but just as often your brakes are worn and in need of replacement. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.

Air filter. A clogged air filter can affect the performance of your car. While an air filter is not something that needs to be necessarily replaced at every spring car maintenance check (though it may need to depending on your driving conditions), an air filter should be inspected regularly.

Don’t forget to check your windshield wipers and headlights so you have optimal visibility. Call or email for an appointment today to have a mechanic inspect those two key parts of your car, and get the rest of your spring car maintenance done before Wisconsin’s spring showers and summer thunderstorms hit. Remember, April showers may bring May flowers, and also car breakdowns and accidents if you car doesn’t get the annual spring car maintenance and inspections it needs.

Regular Car Maintenance You Shouldn’t Ignore

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engineIt’s easy to ignore regular car maintenance. When life gets busy, and schedules get hectic, finding the time for regular car maintenance gets tricky. When it seems like you don’t have time, factor in the inconvenience later when your car breaks down because you didn’t take the time for regular car maintenance. Regular car maintenance is essential to staying on the road, and staying out of the ditch. Regular car maintenance like:

  1. Oil changes. An engine without regular oil changes is an engine that costs their owner thousands of dollars over the life of the car. The cost of regular oil changes and time spent saves car owners money and inconvenience when your car breaks down. Ask your car mechanic how often you need an oil change, as the amount of miles can vary depending on the type of oil.
  2. Get your tires checked and rotated. Regular rotation of your tires ensures that tires wear evenly, and can even prevent surprise flat tires. An inspection of your tires can also find holes that allow air to leak slowly.
  3. Brake inspections. It’s normal for brakes to make occasional squeaking sounds when they get wet. If the squeak doesn’t go away, or if the noise is a grinding noise, your vehicle needs attention. If you don’t get your brakes looked it, and possibly replaced, brake failure is inevitable—leaving you in the midst of an accident you caused or in a ditch waiting for a tow truck.
  4. Replace your spark plugs. True story: a friend of ours delayed having the spark plugs replaced on her truck, leading to a $1,000 bill to replace the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter had plugged up because of faulty spark plugs. The moral of the story is to ask your mechanic when it’s time to replace those spark plugs, and follow through with the repair sooner than $1,000 later (or worse).
  5. Ditching that disgusting air filter. We won’t tell you how disgusting your air filter can get, but we can tell you that part of your regular car maintenance should include replacing or cleaning that gross air filter. A dirty air filter can choke your engine of air, causing performance issues and damage over the life of your car.

Don’t forget to regularly replace your windshield wipers and headlights—two parts of your car vital for proper vision when driving. The good news is that you don’t need to shoulder the task of regular car maintenance alone. Take your car to your trusted car mechanic or shop so they can keep records of your car’s regular car maintenance, and make recommendations based on those records. At the end of the day, don’t take the task of regular car maintenance lightly—so you don’t end up with heavy costs and inconvenient car repairs later.