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Six Common Car Maintenance Questions Answered

At Dr. Brakes, the dominant theory behind vehicle maintenance is simple: increased car care equals a longer lifespan.

While this is basic information, many car owners have other questions regarding their car’s maintenance; typically questions they’ve always wondered but never actually asked their mechanic about when they brought their car into the shop.

Regardless of where you take your vehicle for maintenance — whether here at Dr. Brakes or your shop of preference — take the following questions and answers into consideration as you drive into the future:

How Often Should I Conduct Routine Maintenance?

Every vehicle is different, so to find out how frequently you should conduct maintenance you should first check out your vehicle’s owner’s manual. The information in your owner’s manual can be extremely helpful, as the manufacturer knows just how long your vehicle is expected to last and when — at the very earliest — various parts might start to fail on you.

The last thing you want is for something to break down while driving. Your vehicle’s manufacturer does not want this to happen to you either — as it reflects bad on them — so they put together these guides, giving owner’s mile markers for routine maintenance to make sure everything remains running properly for as long as possible.

Is the Cost of Car Maintenance Worth It?

Taking your vehicle in for routine maintenance can seem like an unnecessary expense at times, leading many car owners to wonder what is the better option: paying for car maintenance to extend the life of their car, or skipping it altogether for a shorter vehicle lifespan but monthly maintenance savings.

In response to that, we’d like to present a hypothetical scenario.

Over the course of owning your vehicle — and performing proper maintenance — it will most likely reach the 100,000 mile mark before you have to purchase a new car (unless you’re on a lease).

Let’s say that during your time owning the vehicle, you change the oil every 5,000 miles (though it’s often recommended to change the oil every 4,000 miles, there are many motor oils that last longer, and a majority of people forget it’s time for an oil change until they’re well over).

So, in the lifespan of a car with 100,000 miles on it that’s had an oil change every 5,000 miles, the total comes to 20 oil changes. This will cost you roughly $600, depending on which shop or dealership you go to. The average vehicle owner drives 15,000 miles a year, which dates a car with 100,000 miles on the odometer at roughly seven years old.

That’s only $600 on oil changes in seven years. And with cars built the way they are today, you’ll likely have another seven years ahead of you if you treat your vehicle right.

Conversely, if you decided to not change your oil you’d eventually need an engine replacement, which would cost you upwards of $4,000. And that would become an issue well before the 100,000 mark.

The same math (if not even more drastic) holds true for all the other aspects of your vehicle. Car parts deteriorate, it’s unavoidable. Stick with fixing the smaller maintenance issues and you can avoid future major (and expensive) problems.

What are the Most Common Parts of a Car that Need Maintenance ?

There is an extensive list, but generally you want to look at parts with a short lifespan as well as giving the car a fluid inspection, coolant fluid exchange, fuel filter, air filter replacements, timing belt replacement, transmission fluid exchange, spark plug replacement, tire rotation, and axle fluid exchange.

As you can see, most of these are just fluid replacements and small part swap-outs, which are small fixes that can go a long way towards extending the life of your car.

Eventually you’ll also need new tires to replace your worn out ones and keep you safe on the road. For longer lasting tires though, have them rotated when you go in for a general inspection (which our experts at Dr. Brakes recommend you do during every oil change).

Naturally, these rules can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, but these are the most common maintenance items.

I Always Seem to Need a Bulb Replaced. What Gives?

Does it seem like you always need to have a bulb replaced whenever you go in for a maintenance check up?

No, it’s not a way for mechanics to stick you with the cost of an overpriced bulb. Your car actually has over 100 different bulbs in the rear alone (especially if it uses LED lighting). Considering a police officer can pull you over for simply having one bulb out, it’s better to just avoid this problem and have it replaced.

What is the Biggest Factor for Bulb Burn Outs?

When a light in your car blinks off, it typically isn’t the fault of the bulb. Instead, it’s due to condensation and moisture that builds up over time inside of the bulb.

If you look at your front headlights, you might see that it is a bit foggy under the protective glass, and sometime may even have water in the bottom (especially if it is an older vehicle).

This is typically what causes a car’s bulbs to short out.

How Can I Figure Out if My Turn Signal is Burned Out When I’m In My Car?

Chances are, you are not standing in front of your own vehicle looking at the lights to see if the bulbs work (although this isn’t a bad idea, to check your car’s electronics regularly to see if they’re fully functional)

However, an easy way to tell if your car’s turn signal is out is to listen to the ticking of the signal and watch the light on your dashboard. If you’re driving and you notice the arrow seems to be flashing faster than it normally does, or of the ticking sound associated with the turn signal is ticking faster than usual, your light may be out. This occurs because the electrical current that is supposed to go to both the back and the front is now only going to one light. More energy causes it to go faster, which means you need a new bulb.

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