Which Car Maintenance Items You Should Budget For (& Which to Forget!)
Depending upon the make and model of your vehicle, along with the year of production, there is a specific schedule of maintenance tasks. However, many experienced car owners understand that many of these tasks are scheduled earlier than necessary, and others are completely unnecessary unless there are signs of problems.
Here are general recommendations from maintenance masters and mechanics who know what’s really necessary to keep your vehicle operational and sailing smoothly.
Budget for These Maintenance Needs
1. Oil Changes
Image via Flickr by Robert Couse-Baker
While oil changes are necessary, people tend to get them much more often than necessary. If that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, consider the added oil change per year costing you up to $400 in a decade. Even if you proudly own a vehicle from Reed Tollman Chevy or an antique car from Paris, changing the oil more often will not improve its driving.
To set the record straight, here are the standard oil change requirements:
- Get an oil change every 5,000 miles or every three months (whichever comes first).
- If your area has drastic temperature shifts then an oil change is recommended a minimum of once a season.
- If your vehicle sits without being driven for a month or more, consider an oil change.
Image via Flickr by akeg
Any qualified mechanic should be able to inspect your vehicle for less than $30 in less than an hour. However, if he or she returns with a laundry list of “necessary” upgrades and tune-up tasks, then you should get a second opinion.
Also, keep track of every new part in case there is a warranty: it is helpful to make a spreadsheet to track parts, serial numbers, and dates installed, as well as the warranty expiration date.
Image via Flickr by Sparkwash
Never neglect your timing belt! It is in fact a ticking time bomb of horror for the engine. When it snaps it can cause unspeakable damage to all other instruments within range of its whip-like chaos. If this seems over dramatic to you, then your timing belt has clearly never broken on a highway.
Forget These Tasks
Image via Flickr by mauitimeweekly
Yes, your tires must be rotated and balanced on a regular basis. Yet, rotating them on a schedule doesn’t make sense, because every tire wears differently. Inspect your tires once a month to decide how evenly they are wearing: only schedule a rotation if you believe it is necessary.
2. Replacing Spark Plugs
Image via Flickr by Mr.Thomas
When you have an inspection conducted they will inform you of every necessary change or upgrade: there’s no need to automatically change your spark plugs just because your vehicle rolls into 100,000 miles. These schedules were designed as reminders; not as dictatorial guidelines everyone must follow.
When you review your vehicle’s particular schedule on a site like Edmunds.com, remember to think for yourself. If your car is doing well, then skip the rigorous schedule of tasks and get a simple inspection.