It is officially Fall, and we, at Moon Township Automotive are seeing a lot of vehicles for service. However, by our count we are not seeing enough of them. Really, we should see 100% of the vehicles that we have sold coming in for regular fall service, as well as a number of others that we were not the dealer on. But only about 72% of owners actually do what they need to do for their vehicles, according to a survey conducted by AutoTrader. This means that almost ⅓ of car owners (28%) do not.
There are any number of issues that arise when you neglect your car’s maintenance needs. These include the very real possibility, as our competitor American AutoAirSpecials put it, of the following issues:
- Engine Failure
- Expensive Rotor or Drum Replacement
- Belt/Hose and Adjoining Parts Replacement
- Damaged catalytic converter, failed emissions test, poor performance, engine misfires during acceleration, hard starting and the mother of all undesirables- lousy gas mileage
- Damaged valves and pistons resulting in the failure of a timing belt and the death of a car
We do not want to see any of these happen to you – which is why we published this piece in the first place. In order to avoid breakdowns that leave you stranded, we put together a list of the critical maintenance that you will want to do this fall to keep your vehicle healthy.
Oil Changes Are Critical
If you ask 20 experts almost every single one of them will tell you that if you do nothing else for your car, you should at the very least make sure that you get regular oil changes. PrimerMagazine calls oil “the lifeblood of your car’s engine.”
Oil is what keeps your engine’s parts rotating smoothly and working properly. Over time, exhaust gases from the cylinders and even small bits of metal will contaminate the oil and reduce its effectiveness. Heat from the engine also breaks down the oil. Just like any other fluid, heat will reduce the viscosity (thickness) of the oil. If the oil becomes too thin, it won’t lubricate the engine as well as it should, and parts wear out faster.
Oil also helps keep your gas mileage high. If your car cannot run smoothly and is not well lubricated then your mileage reduces. It also keeps the engine cool, removes gunk from the engine and keeps it from building up, and helps your vehicle run longer.
Have Your Brake Pads Checked
If you have never had the feeling of pressing the brake and having nothing there, or never had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision, then it is hard to imagine just how important your brakes truly are. Your pads are part of the brake system and they need to be changed on a regular basis. The fall would be a good time to get this done – or at least checked. According to autoservicecosts.com, pads can range from $100 to $300 per axle. Frequently brake pad changes come with rotor changes. It’s a pricey repair, but much cheaper than having your brakes fail entirely. And, as CarTalk points out, “If you neglect your brake pads and shoes, your brakes will ultimately fail.” A brake failure can be catastrophic not just for your car and your pocketbook but for anyone involved in a potential accident.
Replace Your Wiper Blades and Headlight Bulbs
It is getting darker earlier now that fall is here and in most of the country the inclement weather is tougher on your car’s wiper blades. Making sure that these are up to par before you find that they are not, is a really smart investment. At the very least, you will find an inconvenience or a bit of frustration. At the mos,t you could end up with a pricey ticket.
US News and World Report puts the Headlight Bulbs this way:
If you can’t see where you’re going you’re not going to enjoy driving it,” explains Popular Mechanics. “Your night visibility is totally dependent on your vehicle’s headlights. If one headlight is burned out, your night visibility is cut in half.” Indeed, failure to keep your headlights working can be an expensive proposition. First, if a police officer sees you with a burned bulb, you’re going to get a ticket. That fine could make paying a few dollars for a new bulb seems like chump change. Second, broken lights increase your risk of being in a crash. Even if you don’t harm yourself or anyone else, you’ll still have to deal with the headache of getting your car fixed.
Who needs that? Replacing a burned bulb is easy and inexpensive. You can order one online for as low as five dollars or, if you’re not handy, have a pro do it for you.
We 100% agree with them. As for the wiper blades, a good pair will run less than $20 installed.
Filters Are Critical In Your Car
Did you know that air filters help your car get better gas mileage? That isn’t the only thing that they are good for. They also help to prevent dust, dirt, and other bit of matter that do not belong there from entering into the car’s engine. It also cuts down on your emissions and keeps the correct amount of air flowing through your vehicle’s innards which makes everything work really well.
Depending on your driving habits and the conditions where you live, you might replace your air filter every time you get an oil change or once a year. Having said that, since summer is usually the hottest and dustiest season, going into fall you are likely to have a dirtier filter and will seriously want to consider spending the $20-50 that it will cost to replace.
There are also cabin air filters, which keep clean air flowing into your vehicle, trapping dust and particulate matter outside. These too will likely collect more dirt and pollution in summer and early fall, when there is a lot of pollen flying around and dust on the roads. These can cost up to $100 on average but, again, they are really worth the investment.