Niagara Gazette

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March 15, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Top 10 car maintenance mistakes technicians say do most damage

Niagara Gazette — In January CarMD came out with a list of the top maintenance mistakes people make that does the most damage to their vehicles. Let’s take a look at these mistakes and how to avoid them.

Putting off recommended/scheduled maintenance is a big one that kills cars over time. As a matter of fact, I named the first chapter of my book “How To Make Your Car Last Forever” Maintenance is the Automotive Fountain of Youth. So while proper maintenance can make your car last long, conversely, lack of maintenance can kill it. Let’s look at a simple list of a few maintenance items and what neglect of them does to your car.

• Not rotating tires/wheel alignment: Don’t rotate your tires? They will develop a negative wear pattern and wear out prematurely. Regular wheel alignment checks will keep the tires rolling straight ahead. Steering and suspension parts wear over time; this causes the wheel alignment to go out. Leave it alone and the tires wear out. Leave it longer and worn steering and suspension parts accelerate wear on each other and tires.

• Don’t get brakes inspected: Every day people drive their cars until they hear grinding coming from the wheels when they stop. Then they have to spend several hundreds of dollars to repair the brakes. Didn’t they hear the excessive squealing that had to occur before the grinding? Apparently not. Whenever you go into the shop for an oil change, have the brakes checked. This way you’ll find out you need brakes before they get so bad that it costs you hundreds.

• Ignoring the “check engine” light: Over the years I have dealt with this problem over and over again. Yet people still continue to drive their vehicles without having the system checked when a check engine light illuminates. I understand why people do I; simply because the car keeps driving with seemingly no problems. Then one day out of the clear blue, the car starts running poorly or simply doesn’t start. When the shop looks at it, they advise the customer that their car needs performance system repairs to the tune of say $700 to which they respond, “Really? It was running fine until yesterday!” Little did they know that the performance system was diminishing daily to the point where the vehicle finally couldn’t make the necessary adjustments. Stay on top of check engine lights and tend to them immediately.

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