Common Car Maintenance Questions Answered

Maintenance

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Why is car maintenance essential?

The simple answer: to help keep your car running newer, longer. By letting us perform routine maintenance, you’ll help spare more significant car trouble.

Lapsing maintenance on your car’s vital fluid exchanges, dirty filters, fussy belts, and old spark plugs can lead to more significant problems like busted-up radiators, slipping gear shifts, and engine failure.

That’s why routine maintenance is key to vehicle longevity. 

The maintenance you think you can “let go” in the short term can often be an “oh, no!” down the road.

Your manufacturer has designed a maintenance schedule (found in your owner’s manual) around your particular vehicle’s specific makeup.

Follow this schedule, and chances are your vehicle will deliver optimal performance as you rack up the miles, help your parts last longer, and save you some dough on more expensive replacement parts.

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How often should I have routine maintenance performed?

Each car, SUV, truck, or van manufacturer lists time and mileage intervals for routine maintenance, inspections, and part replacement. 

Some service intervals are shorter, requiring more frequent maintenance, while other maintenance intervals are more extended, occurring once or twice over the life of your vehicle.

Some vehicles have internal clocks that alert you to when you need maintenance as well. Heed those indicator lights.

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Will the expense of car maintenance “pay off” in the long run?

Regular maintenance for your ride is a wise decision, my friend—both for the longevity of your car and the length of your dollar.

Regular maintenance helps prevent having to replace more expensive parts.

Let’s take an oil change for an average sedan over 100,000 miles as an example. During those miles, you’d change your oil about 25 times (an oil change every 4,000 miles). 

Assuming the average cost of the oil change is about $25, you’ll spend $625 on oil changes overall.

If you were to go without an oil change during that period, your engine would likely flood with contaminants and eventually seize.

The reason? Thick, dirty oil that can’t correctly lubricate vital parts, leading to metal-on-metal friction. 

The result? One cost-prohibitive roadblock: an engine replacement that hovers around $4,000.

What are the most common maintenance items recommended by manufacturers?

They vary, but here’s an excellent place to start:

  1.     Routine parts and fluid inspections
  2.     Coolant fluid exchange
  3.     Filter (air, cabin air, fuel) replacement
  4.     Timing belt replacement
  5.     Transmission fluid exchange
  6.     Spark plug replacement
  7.     Axle fluid exchange
  8.     Tire rotations

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All inspections and recommended maintenance services will vary by your vehicle make and model. Check your owner’s manual for the specific needs of your vehicle.

Bulb Replacement

How many different bulbs are there in the average vehicle?

More than most Christmas trees. For real. And it’s not just fog lights, turn signals, and rear, mirror, and side bulbs you’ll have to contend with. 

Bulbs are everywhere, especially on vehicles with fancy LED bulbs: they can feature over 100 bulbs in the vehicle’s rear alone. 

These bulbs will last varying amounts of time, so inspect your vehicle regularly to ensure no crucial rear or front lights are out.

How long do bulbs typically last?

Bulb life varies, so it’s essential to get your vehicle inspected regularly.

How many vehicles on the road today have burned out exterior bulbs?

One of every three vehicles has a light that’s burned out. With so many lights on cars these days, it’s inevitable. 

It’s easy to assume that a person not using their turn signal is a reckless driver. 

However, with a 33% chance that person may have a bulb burned out, they might not even know they have a burnout.

Stay alert. If you notice people honking or blinking their lights at you for what seems like no reason at all, don’t lose your cool. 

They may be trying to tell you something very important: one of your lights is out. 

Then again, maybe they’re just not very nice.

Beyond the obvious benefit of better lighting, are there any other benefits of bulb replacement?

Sure, light is a boon if you’re afraid of the dark. 

When you’re talking about headlights, it’s also integral to increasing visibility—for you and others—when traveling down dark stretches of road.

Working turn signals and brake lights are of utmost importance, too. 

They decrease the likelihood of a collision by enabling other drivers to see you and anticipate your intended actions on the road.

What is the most significant factor that leads to bulb burnouts?

Condensation and moisture buildup is the biggest bulb killers. Let’s face it; it never meant water and electrical devices to coexist.

Why do you have to replace the entire headlight casing when it’s just the bulb that has burned out?

Some auto manufacturers require a brand new headlight kit to be installed rather than just replacing the bulb.

And if part of your headlight casing is damaged or missing, many manufacturers don’t supply individual replacement parts for headlight housing.

That is true with popular LED lights. Any lights on a LED fixture will require the entire light assembly to be replaced. 

While it’s true this usually costs more than just a bulb replacement; you’ll have brand new manufacturer equipment, which is always a plus.

Replacing an entire headlight casing, sometimes, can be the best thing that happened to your headlight.

The reason? A broken or missing casing part may lead to future malfunctions and burnouts.

How do I detect a burned-out turn signal?

A turn signal that blinks faster, or supposed to be on but never blinks, are both indicators. 

If you notice your turn signal behaving this way, that’s a warning from your car that one of the turn signal bulbs is burned out. 

Not all cars have these burnout indication features, though, so make be sure to inspect your vehicle periodically.

Although exterior bulb burnouts are hard to detect while you’re driving, it’s important to check your exterior lights on a semi-regular basis. 

Some people go months or—gasp—years without noticing an essential bulb is burned out. 

Bulb replacement must let other drivers know you’re there or what your intentions are when moving on the road.

Wiper Blade Replacement

How long do wiper blades generally last?

Wiper longevity depends on where you live. 

The heat wears on those rubber windshield squeegees; therefore, if you live in a hot climate, wipers will inevitably require more frequent replacement. 

Accordingly, if you use your wipers often—and live in a rainy, snowy, or icy neck of the country—expect a shortened blade life.

A general wiper blade rule of thumb: if wipers smear water or snow and obstruct your view when they swoosh by, it’s time for new blades.

Why don’t wiper blades last longer?

Wiper blades may be one of the most misunderstood parts of automotive history. 

After all, they’re the only real functioning component that is completely exposed to the nasty outside elements, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. 

Talk about a tough life. And a tough job keeping visibility clear—whatever the weather.

Given these factors, it’s no wonder something small, thin, and crucial can only provide optimal visibility for so long.

What are the most significant factors that cause wiper blades to wear down?

Your wipers are exposed to the outside world day in and day out, which means everything from heat and rain to snow, road salt, and ice all affect. 

On top of these factors, blades wear down over time with repeated use.

What happens as wiper blades get older?

All that sun. All that heat. All that use. 

All these factors affect the life of your wiper blades. 

As your rubber wiper blades endure the elements, they start losing their flexibility and become brittle. 

The rubber cracks and tears. The blades wear down, exposing the metal. 

Eventually, you’re left with blades that streak and smear, making it more difficult to see all that’s ahead of you. 

Worst of all, if the rubber runs out on the blade, the metal underneath can scratch your windshield. Yikes.

Will I be able to tell the difference when I have my wiper blades replaced?

Replacing your blades can be like taking a blindfold off of your eyes. 

Better functionality will lead to better visibility.

What are some symptoms that you need new wiper blades?

Smearing, smudging, streaking, rubbing, scraping on your windshield. 

If your swooshes don’t sound right, look right, or, most importantly, if you can’t see well when your blades go back and forth, it’s time for a wiper replacement.

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