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Automotive Maintenance Beyond the Oil Change

I have noticed that different drivers have different ideas about what “car maintenance” really means. It is indeed very important to change your engine oil regularly. This is a good reason while your engine will last longer and overall be more reliable. A large percentage of owners understand this and make a point to make the oil change ritual a priority. Others struggle with this concept. Failing to change your oil regularly will cost you more in the long run. Others struggle with the concept of maintenance beyond the standard oil change. Many folks consider an oil change as taking care of the car's maintenance, but it is not true.

Let's start with the definition of maintenance: “The process of maintaining or preserving someone or something, or the state of being maintained.” There is a process when it comes automotive maintenance, and it starts with the owners manual in your glove box. The manufacturer of your vehicle has recommendations for the up-keep on your daily driver. They will spell it out based on mileage intervals. Different intervals will require different services, with oil changes and tire rotations being the most frequent. Some inspections incorporate an overall inspection of your vehicle. This is an important one especially on the 30,000, 60,000 & 90,000 mile intervals. Oil change personnel are trained to change your oil and check an infinite amount of fluid levels. They have less experience and training than a certified automotive technician. These more involved inspections require experience to reliably report the condition of your car, truck or SUV. This involves a thorough inspection. They are looking for potential issues like fluid leaks, oil leaks, and tire wear issues due to worn suspension and steering.

It is also important to have a proper brake inspection and have your battery tested. These items don't get checked during a speedy oil change. These are the kind of things that can be easy to detect and dealt with in a calm fashion, on your terms. When these inspections are neglected, it can turn your calm day into chaos. Now you have to deal with a dead battery, grinding brakes or a coolant leak that went from a little leak, to being stuck on the side of the road. These inspections are designed for early warning to keep you away from the chaos. I understand that you are worried that the repair shop is going to find something with your car and it will cost you money. This is indeed a reality. Are you worried that these suggestions are just a ploy to charge for stuff you don't need? If this is a thought in your head, then you need to find a shop that you can trust. Most shops hire professional technicians that know what they are looking at. Most shops operate with honesty and integrity, but it is okay to call them out to test their honesty. Ask to see the old parts or ask them to explain the situation so that you can understand. Check their credentials and take recommendations from you friends. The best suggestion you can get is from somebody that has experience with a particular facility.
The maintenance schedule will also suggest particular services depending on the mileage. Some of these interval based suggestions are more significant like a transmission service, spark plug replacement or even a timing belt job. The cost of these items will be more significant, so it is good to know in advance for scheduling and budgeting concerns. When you pass the 60,000-mile mark, you can expect to have some more significant services performed. It is important to be ready for it.  Spending money maintaining and repairing your vehicle is a reality. These cars and SUV’s are machines that will suffer from wear and tear. Ignoring maintenance will cost you more in the long run.

The basics, like changing your oil, checking your tire pressure, and getting scheduled inspections and repair work done are like getting regular checkups at the doctor. They keep you healthy and give you; and the experts; a chance to catch anything serious before it becomes a major problem. With your car, that can save you thousands.  Who is responsible for paying attention to this maintenance schedule for your vehicle? It is the owner/driver of course! However, trustworthy repair facilities like Orinda Motors will help you figure out what you are due for and can help you through the process.

Be a good consumer of automotive repair. Get your manual out and familiarize yourself with the future of your cars maintenance needs. Contact a shop you can trust and talk it over with them. I am always available for automotive consultation.

John Vanek
Orinda Motors Car Time


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