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Avoid Common Car Maintenance Mistakes

Most people don't know a lot about their cars. Every year, there's more technology and fewer things that the average car owner can do on their own. Everyone makes mistakes some times. And sometimes, small mistakes can lead to big repair bills. Knowing how to avoid them with your vehicle can save you lots of money on repairs. Read through these common mistakes and become a better car owner/customer/consumer


Mistake 1 - Being unaware

For most cars, you just have to spend a few minutes reading through the owners manual to find out what the manufacturer recommends when it comes to oil changes, fuel grades and when to do certain types of maintenance. Using the wrong gas or oil could void your warranty or cause costly damage you'll have to repair. Knowing your maintenance schedules and other details about your car can save you time and money!  We have access to all factory maintenance manuals, so call us if you don't have access to this information.


Mistake 2 - Not checking your fluids

Learn how to check your fluids. You don't have to know how to change your own oil or other fluids, but knowing when they're running low can help you discover problems like leaks when they're small problems and before those leaks can cause real damage to your engine, transmission or steering. Once again, your owners manual will probably have instructions on how to do that or ask your mechanic to show you how the next time your car is in for regular maintenance.


Mistake 3 - Ignoring a rough ride

Make sure your tires are rotated and balanced regularly. If you notice that your car is not tracking in a straight line or other changes that affect ride quality. Take your car in for service.


Mistake 4 - Ignoring unusual sounds

Sometimes just listening to your car can save you money. If you notice something sounding different about your car, schedule an appointment with your mechanic to find out what's causing it. A squealing noise that’s coming from one of your wheels could be a sign of a brake problem or worse, a wheel bearing. Unusual sounds coming from the engine compartment? See your mechanic soon to avoid getting stuck on the side of the road. Odd sounds when accelerating? That could signal a transmission problem on its way. The longer you wait, the more potential for significant damage to your car.


Mistake 5 - Skipping oil changes or waiting longer than recommended between oil changes

Oil changes are part of keeping your engine running smoothly and avoiding costly repairs. The good news is that many newer vehicles use oils that are more efficient, so while people used to change their oil every 3,000 miles, you can now go as much as 10,000 miles between oil changes. Check your owners manual or ask your mechanic. For our regular oil change using synthetic blend we recommend changes every 5,000 miles. Our full synthetic oil change, every 10,000 miles. If you do a lot of stop and go driving, you may want to go in a bit more often. At Fairbanks Automotive we check the following items as part of our standard oil change:

Mistake 6 - Putting off small things like wipers

You only realize how important your wipers are when you need them to work. If they leave your windshield streaky or show physical signs of wear, it's time to replace them. Plus driving around with worn wiper blades runs the risk of scratching your windshield glass - an expensive repair that's easily avoided.


Mistake 7 - Ignoring the check engine light

Check engine lights indicate that something in your engine isn't working properly but people frequently ignore them. If the engine light comes on and nothing feels wrong you may figure that everything is fine. The problem is that if you wait too long the warning can become an actual problem that could cost considerably more to correct. When the check engine light comes on, have it checked as soon as possible. If its something that can wait, we'll let you know.


Mistake 8 - Not checking tire pressures regularly

This only takes a few minutes and many gas stations have air hoses with pressure sensors or can be set to a specific pressure. Some newer cars monitor tire pressure automatically, but if yours doesn't have this feature make sure to check your tires every month or so. When you do this, this is a good time to see if you have excessive tire wear.


Mistake 9 - Servicing your vehicle if you don't know how

It can be tempting to try fixing something yourself, but most modern vehicles require specialized equipment to diagnose most problems. There aren't many things that can be fixed by your average person anymore. In many cases, there can be multiple causes for one particular issue and an experienced mechanic will usually know what's the most likely cause. They're also experience and can do many repair much, much faster than you can. In the end, its always a good idea to have an experienced mechanic perform any repairs on your car.


Bottom line:

Small things taken care of promptly don't turn into big things. It's better to spend one or two hundred dollars on a relatively minor issue like a worn timing belt than having to replace an entire engine and spend a few thousand dollars in the process. Check your manual, check out the videos we've provided on how to do the small things and in the long run, you'll have fewer problems, less chance of getting stuck out on a highway and extend the life of your vehicle

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