Informing yourself about your vehicle’s needs is a habit that pays dividends in the long term. By paying attention to the recommended maintenance schedule and following it accordingly, you can extend the life of your car, prevent serious problems and avoid disruptions to your finances.
The consequences of skipping scheduled maintenance
Disregarding scheduled maintenance for your vehicle is a financially risky habit. According to the Federal Trade Commission, failing to maintain your new vehicle could lead the automaker to deny warranty claims. Skipping maintenance is also hazardous if you’ve taken out a car loan. If your neglected car breaks down for good and you’re still making payments, Credit.com contributor Gerri Detweiler writes that you might have to pay off the loan in full, roll the outstanding amount into a new loan or even get a bankruptcy lawyer involved if the situation is dire enough.
Even if skipping maintenance doesn’t land you in one of these nightmare scenarios, it’s still a good way to shorten the life of your car and cost yourself a lot of money. It’s also risky for your health and well-being, increasing your odds of a dangerous crash or vehicle malfunction.
Learning your vehicle’s maintenance schedule
How can you find out what scheduled maintenance your car requires and when? Your most important resource is your vehicle owner’s manual. Inside the manual, a schedule charts how often various maintenance tasks need to be completed. According to Philip Reed of Edmunds, the manual is authored by factory representatives who are responsible for the construction of the vehicle, making them the utmost authority on keeping it running better for longer.
Aside from checking your owner’s manual, in some newer cars, you can find out about recommended service from reminders that pop up on the information cluster. You can also stay on top of maintenance by inspecting your tires, checking your vehicle’s fluid levels and regularly checking the oil. Other important maintenance tasks include replacing the windshield wipers, air filters and belts; changing the oil and spark plugs at the recommended mileage intervals; and having the tires rotated and balanced.
Keeping maintenance records and handling service visits
Once familiar with the scheduled maintenance your car needs, it’s a good idea to set up a record-keeping system to document the work done on your vehicle. You can do this on paper, but a variety of smartphone apps can easily help you track and stay up to date on vehicle maintenance.
Keeping good records and being aware of your maintenance schedule will come in handy when you take your vehicle in for service. Reed also recommends that you research service costs and call for quotes before determining where to take your vehicle for service. Service advisors will often try to upsell you on repairs you may not need, so it’s a good idea to have your maintenance schedule handy and understand what it requires. Dealer-recommended maintenance may not be the same as what’s called for in your owner’s manual, and it’s likely to cost you more as well.
Routine maintenance is all too easy to overlook, but it’s a crucial aspect of vehicle ownership. Finding and sticking to your car’s maintenance schedule now is a good way to save yourself a splitting financial headache later.