Cars are complicated machines. Your vehicle needs the right combination of many factors from the air intake, to gas, and lubrication to work - and that’s whether you have a classic car, modified car, antique car, or a modern one, just as the factory made it.
Sure, many vehicles are equipped with many sensors to warn you about a potential issue, but getting ahead on your maintenance is even better and can lead to many more years on the road - with fewer dollars spent on major repairs or another vehicle.
So why is routine maintenance important to my car?
Routine maintenance keeps all the moving parts in your vehicle running the way they should. There are many benefits to maintaining your vehicle on a regular basis.
While the price of a tire rotation and an oil change every 3,000 miles (or sometimes 6,000 with full synthetic) seems like it adds up quickly, it’s a small drop in the bucket compared to the stream of cash you’ll need for major repairs to your suspension or engine.
Changing your oil less frequently than needed will lead to wearing the major parts of your engine down sooner. The engine has many parts and the more wear you have, the more parts you’ll need to replace.
Following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule can also be cheaper in the long run. Having a moving part fail often leads to additional failures at the same time. It’s far cheaper to replace a belt when the instructions or your mechanic suggest than waiting for it to break.
Better maintenance will also keep your monthly bills down. Whether you have a standard vehicle or a modified car, your insurance won’t go up as quickly as car owners who have to tow their vehicle on a regular basis.
Time for other things
Routine maintenance can help you save time. Ever sat around in the lobby of your local repair place, waiting to hear bad news about your car? Or sat around waiting for the dreaded phone call to learn why your vehicle isn’t running?
Regular maintenance like oil changes can help save time - and maybe your nerves. A well-maintained car spends less time in the shop on average because it doesn’t need to be torn down, then parts ordered, and parts replaced - all of which take time. You’ll also spend less time contemplating what do to with your car when the repair bills run high.
Over time, you’ll slowly start to notice your car behaving strangely without regular maintenance. An old, ill-maintained battery will have a harder time starting in extreme cold or heat. Old, worn spark plugs can make an engine run rough. Your brake pads are designed to make a squeal noise when they are too worn - and you don’t want to hear it!
Having smooth performance in any car, including your vintage car, makes your vehicle more predictable, too. Do you know if your vehicle can reliably stop in traffic when the light turns yellow? Do you have the power to easily pass a slow mover on the highway? Regular maintenance makes your vehicle act more as it should.
This is especially important for modified cars. If you changed your vehicle’s engine performance, or suspension and tires, make sure to get the vehicle maintained often to ensure you aren’t prematurely wearing parts that make your modifications less effective.
Prevent warning lights
Nobody likes the piercing glow of the check engine light. For those unfamiliar with code readers, it’s a mystery - and a hope that your vehicle doesn’t break down soon.
Regular maintenance on any vehicle will help prevent your dashboard from lighting up like a Christmas tree.
For safety’s sake
Sudden breakdowns are bad. Having your car fall apart or not be able to stop is also quite dangerous, especially in traffic or in remote areas.
A well-maintained vehicle is much safer. Auto shops typically offer a free inspection with the vehicle and have trained eyes to notice potential issues with your vehicle’s future safety.
Whether you have a collectible car or a more modern, less rare vehicle, the resale value is affected by your maintenance. Keeping records on hand of your consistent oil changes and the money spent on replacing and inspecting parts as needed is really helpful in getting a better offer when the time comes to sell.
When selling privately or trading into a dealer, the buyer will have more confidence in your vehicle when seeing that it was maintained regularly and drives as it does.
Keeping the vehicle interior clean is also huge when selling your car. Buyers don’t want a car that smells like fast food, or that has stains, rips, or tears in the seats.
Between maintenance trips
There are some basic things you can do between oil changes and regular maintenance to ensure that your vehicle stays in top shape.
Check where you park for leaking fluids. Some leaks are slow and build up over time, but they are still important. When backing out, look at the pavement for any wet spots on a dry day, or any unusual colors. Your vehicle has many fluids from the transmission to coolant and brakes - and it’s supposed to stay in the vehicle!
If your vehicle has a battery meter or a hard time starting, have it inspected or replaced
Your vehicle’s windshield needs good wiper blades for your safety and to keep the wipes from scratching the glass. The good news is that they are fairly inexpensive and many auto owners could replace them in their own driveway for free.
Consult your manual
Your manufacturer knows your vehicle the best, unless you have a modified car. The manual can readily tell you when the vehicle should have the tires rotated, belts replaced, and the transmission flushed based on how they built it.
Follow the manual and keep your eyes open for other issues. Have a classic or antique vehicle? A fellow vehicle enthusiast probably has a digital version of your manual online somewhere if yours is no longer available.
Keeping a vehicle in top shape is a priority for your safety and your wallet. Regular maintenance is much less expensive than emergency maintenance with many parts and lots of labor costs at the shop. You’ll be glad you did!