Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 2, 2014

TOM'S CORNER: How to kill a car

Niagara Gazette — What does it take to kill a car? Many of you can come up with ways of your own, but let’s look at some of the most common forms of abuse that cause major vehicle failure.

Neglecting scheduled maintenance

More cars find their way to the junkyard by neglecting basic scheduled maintenance than any other cause. This list includes such things as neglecting oil changes and transmission services, driving too long on the same set of sparkplugs, ignoring check engine lights and charging system or temperature gauges that indicate trouble, turning a deaf ear to brake squeals, belt squeals, clanking, banging and clunking. 

Think about this: Airlines have aggressive maintenance checks on their planes based on how many hours they have been in the air. Ocean liners and submarines keep a full-time maintenance crew on hand at all times to attend to mechanical problems as they crop up. Race teams have a pit crew on hand during the race to ensure the vehicle continues to deliver peak performance safely throughout the event. 

What makes those of us who drive a car every day think we are immune to mechanical breakdown? And what makes us think that we can drive our vehicles indefinitely without regular maintenance? Our cars need maintenance checks to ensure that they run safely and efficiently. There are an untold number of accidents that occur as a result of mechanical problems that were caused by neglect of basic maintenance issues. And there are many more cases of massive and unnecessary repair costs for the same reason.

A lot of people think that if the car runs, why spend money on it? If there’s no obvious problem, wait until there is and then fix it. If you think like this, you are being pennywise and pound-foolish. In your lifetime you are spending far more money on cars than the guy who does what it takes to maintain a healthy car. Compare it to the physical health of your body. In the past, people used to go to a doctor only when they were sick. Today we know that preventative care has improved the quality of life as well as extended the length of life. And it costs less money! Insurance companies want to pay for yearly checkups because problems can be diagnosed early before they cost an arm and a leg to treat. Cars are no different. Follow the suggested maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

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