You can go about two approaches when it comes to taking care of a car. You can either have a car maintenance checklist, spend $200 every 5000 miles (or three months) and have the peace of mind for 500,000 miles. Or, take the vehicle for granted, assume it needs no care, and by 100,000 miles, you’ll have to spend at least $10,000 to keep the thing roadworthy.
This article is about 3 of the most expensive car repairs that can be totally avoided with routine maintenance. Let’s have a look at them.
A seized engine, or a blown motor, is any car owner’s worst nightmare. So, what is a seized engine? Well, an internal combustion engine that can no longer run to power the car or runs in an extremely erratic manner, making it impossible to drive the car, is a seized engine.
When an engine is blown, barely any of its internals are usable anymore. These parts cost a lot. Even if you have a small 4-cylinder engine from an economical brand like Toyota or Honda, having a blown motor remade will set you back between $3000 and $5000.
However, if you own an exotic vehicle and happen to blow the motor, you’re in for tens of thousands in engine repair bills.
However, you can avoid this pretty easily.
The Maintenance that Avoids this
There is just one thing that you need to do at the manufacturer specified interval to avoid this, oil changes. This costs less than $50. A couple of things to make sure are:
- Always use the oil grade recommended by the manufacturer.
- Get the oil change done from a reputable service shop.
- Always change the oil filter with the oil and use the OEM one.
- If your car is above 150,000 miles, take a sample of the old oil and send it to the lab to evaluate the engine internals.
The next worst thing to happen to a car after a blown motor is a failed transmission. The job of this box of gears, as the name implies, is to transmit the engine’s power to the wheels to make the car move. So, a failed transmission means that even if you have a perfectly healthy engine putting out all the power you need, the car won’t move.
From a financial point of view, a failed transmission is the last thing any car owner wants to have. These things are usually not covered by insurance, especially if the mechanic rules the reason to be your negligence and a lack of proper maintenance.
If you have an economy car, you are looking at $1800 to $3400 for a new transmission. However, if you happen to fail the one on your Mercedes or Audi, you’d rather scrap the car and get a new one.
A little maintenance thing called transmission fluid change can save you from this.
The Maintenance that Avoids This
All you need to do to avoid this expense and the related trouble is changing the transmission fluid of your car as specified by the manufacturer. Transmission fluid is a little more expensive at $80 to $250, but you only have to get it replaced every 50,000 or so miles, so the per-mile cost is negligible.
When getting a transmission oil change:
- Always use the recommended grade.
- Go to a reliable mechanic and make sure you are getting the original fluid.
- Change the transmission filter with the fluid.
Premature Tire Wear
This one is more dangerous than it is expensive. Tires are your first line of defense on the road and the actual parts of the body that make contact with the road and make your car move or stop.
As modern car tires undergo a lot of stress under normal operational conditions, they need to be aligned properly to work the right way.
Driving a car out of alignment is an annoying thing, but if you know the full ramifications of driving such a car, having to pull the steering to a side will be the least of your concerns. Such a car will:
- Have uneven and premature tire wear, reducing tire life.
- The constant strain can cause the steering assembly or tie-rods to give in.
- Under uneven load, the tires can explode at high speed, causing an accident.
Tires are not just rubber, a lot of research and development goes into them, and a part of that price is added to each tire you purchase. A good set of tires can cost you between $200 to $300 each, adding up to $1000+ for all four of them.
If you have to get the steering work done, the cost will be astronomical, and sometimes the damage is so severe that the car is no longer safe to drive at highway speeds.
Avoiding all this is extremely inexpensive.
The Maintenance that Avoids this
All you need to do is to make sure that the car is in a perfect state of wheel alignment and balancing at all times. This is not even routine maintenance. You’d only need it when you get new wheels or tires or get some suspension work done. The most advanced computerized laser wheel alignment of all four wheels will just cost you $200.
When getting a wheel alignment, make sure:
- The mechanic is experienced.
- The equipment has been calibrated as per the requirements of the manufacturer.
- Go for a test drive on an open road to verify the alignment results.
Like any other machinery, cars need proper and timely care to remain safe, reliable, and economical. Ignoring maintenance can result in massive repair bills and make the car dangerous to drive. The three most expensive repairs that a car can need due to lack of maintenance are a seized engine, a failed transmission, and premature tire wear. However, if you get engine and transmission oil changes at specified intervals and get wheel alignment when needed, you can save a lot of money on these expensive repairs. The best part, this maintenance costs a fraction of the money you’ll otherwise have to spend on repairs.