Cars can feel like part of the family. They’re our constant shuttling companions, shipping kids and pets to school and appointments, and literally making family road trips possible. And just as we look after the health of our families, we also have an obligation as car owners to keep our cars in good shape so that we can keep depending on them. A vehicle that is has been taken care of will reward you with longevity and reliability.
Luckily, just a few simple habits can ensure the health of our vehicles. Here are some tidbits for making sure we don’t neglect our car “parenting” duties.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
The most potentially expensive car maintenance mistake you can make is letting the little things that do not seem important slide when you’re busy or stressed, like oil or fluid leaks and smells like burning rubber or carpet. Be aware of your car, get out and touch and smell. Call your repair shop and ask questions to understand what may potentially happen if you ignore it.
KEEP YOUR SERVICE/REPAIR RECORDS IN YOUR CAR
Hold onto all receipts, invoices, and recommendations from your auto shop. These will come in handy if you’re advised that it needs repairs, as you can refer to your file to see if you’re already had it done. It also serves as a great tool to showcase value if ever plan to sell the vehicle, and a great reference to prove how well you took care of it. Not to mention quick access to see if your last repair is still under warranty.
Sure, your favorite song is on and you’re singing like the next runner up for “American Idol,” but make sure you’re not missing warning lights, which can indicate engine problems, brake failure, and/or overheating malfunctions. This is your vehicle’s way of communicating with you that it needs help.
START A RELATIONSHIP
Don’t wait until you have a breakdown to find a repair shop. Start early with simple oil change services to find a repair facility that communicates with you openly and honestly. Make sure you tell the whole story: the more information you give, the better (and most likely cheaper) the diagnosis. And most importantly, don’t feel intimidated. “Always feel free to ask questions about your vehicle’s overall health and service,” Remember that a truly professional mechanic will welcome and encourage inquiries. “It’s only dangerous if you don’t know!”
DOT THE I’s AND CROSS THE T’s
Getting an affordable estimate is one thing, but what about the quality of the parts and warranty? It’s easy to be reeled in by a cheap price, but if the repair has no parts and labor warranty, what good are the savings? Make sure to ask whether your warranty covers parts and labor, and if the parts are new, used, or aftermarket. The better informed you, are the better you can grow into having an open dialogue and trusting relationship.
IT’S OKAY TO DO IT YOURSELF—(Correctly!)
You may not be a mechanic; however, you can be empowered by taking on the simplest maintenance repairs yourself, like replacing the engine air filter, the wiper blades, your battery, even your cabin filter. And believe it or not, you can learn this directly from your mechanic. “An honest repair shop will actually show you how to do it if you ask. I educate my customers about easy DIY tasks all the time.
When it comes to our cars, we must be our own first line of defense. Its imperative that you have a trusting relationship with your auto repair facility that not only strives with open dialogue but is your vessel for clarity to treat your car right.
~ WE DO NOT JUST REPAIR CARS, WE FIX AUTO REPAIR ~