For one of our friends, it was spark plugs in her truck. Though the truck needed new spark plugs, she waited too long to replace the plugs which led to a clogged catalytic converter—more than doubling her original repair bill. We see mistakes like this all the time from truck and car owners—mistakes that end up costing them more in the long run. Here are a few of the most common (and costly) errors car owners make with their vehicles.
Driving on a flat or with little tire tread
A flat tire can just be that: a flat tire that needs to be changed—or it can be the cause of serious (and costly) damage. A blown tire at high speed can damage car suspension and body parts. If you drive on tires with low pressure, you can actually damage your tire more; instead of just needing tire pressure or a tire fix, you need a new tire.
How you can avoid this mistake: Check your tire pressure regularly (here’s how) or have your tire pressures checked every time you schedule an oil change appointment. If you find that your pressure is low, add enough air so your tire meets the pounds per square inch (PSI) that is specified on your driver’s door decal or in your manual. Most importantly, don’t ignore a tire that is repeatedly low. Schedule an appointment to see if your tire can be fixed; often the cause of your low tire can be inexpensively fixed instead of replaced.
Ignoring squealing brakes
Squealing brakes is a sign that your brakes need to be replaced. If you ignore those annoying brake sounds, you could end up in a car accident or in the ditch after your brakes fail. Both scenarios can lead to costly body and part repairs and replacement.
How you avoid this mistake: Watch for signs that your brakes need to be replaced, such as a squealing, grating sound, or a soft brake pedal. If you have any concerns about your brakes, ask your mechanic to check your brakes when they change your oil or rotate your tires.
Not being vigilant about a failing AC
A car AC system blowing cool air is a wonderful thing. That same system can become vulnerable to breakdown if one part of the system starts to malfunction or if there is a leak. Waiting too long to repair one part of your AC system can cause the whole system to stop working.
How you avoid this mistake: If you want to keep that blast of cool air, be watchful so leaks can be fixed promptly. We’ve listed signs of a failing car AC unit here. A car or truck air conditioner with a leak is an air conditioner that’s not going to keep working. If you notice that the air blowing from your AC is not as cool or that it takes longer for the air to cool, schedule an appointment to have your AC system inspected. If there is a refrigerant leak, the system needs to be repaired and recharged.
Ignoring warning lights
It’s one of the biggest—and most common—mistakes made by most car owners today: driving with a warning light on because, “it’s not a big deal.” While it may not harm your car right away, driving with your check engine on—or any of your critical warning lights—can cause more damage, both in the amount of parts and the cost of repairs.
How you avoid this mistake: When a light comes on, ask your mechanic to check your car at your next oil change, or make an appointment to get the problem diagnosed. Though we all love to procrastinate, waiting too long can cost you more in the long run.