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In our years of automotive service, we have found that many customers ask the same questions when it comes to vehicle maintenance. The following are eight of the most frequently asked vehicle maintenance questions we receive and their answers:

GENERAL MAINTENANCE

1.Why is regular car maintenance SO important?

The short answer is to keep your vehicle running newer, longer. By bringing your car in for routine maintenance, you help prevent bigger, more expensive car trouble later.

Your vehicle manufacturer has designed a maintenance schedule for your vehicles specific needs. This schedule can be found in your owner’s manual. If you stick to this schedule, the better your chances are your vehicle will deliver optimal performance even as the miles rack up. Regular maintenance will help the parts last longer and save you money on expensive parts replacement. For example, lapsing maintenance on simple parts like fluid changes, dirty filters, old spark plugs and fussy belts can lead to larger problems like broken radiators, slipping gear shifts, and even engine failure.

2.Does the expense of car maintenance really “pay off” in the long run?

Absolutely. Regular maintenance is the best decision you can make for your vehicle for both longevity and cost. Regular maintenance will help protect you from the need of having to replace more expensive parts. Think of it like a routine doctor visit for your vehicle. People exercise, eat healthy, vaccinate and have regular check-ups with their doctor to prevent serious illness- routine maintenance is your vehicles equivalent.

One example is this. Consider you have an average sedan with around 100,000 miles. During those miles you would have your oil changed around 25 times (at an oil change every 4,000 miles). Assuming the average cost of an oil change is around $40 you’ll spend $1000 on oil changes overall. If you neglected to have an oil change during that period, your engine could flood with contaminates and eventually seize. Dirty, thick oil cannot properly lubricate vital engine parts, causing metal-on-metal friction. This could cause damage that leads to an engine replacement costing somewhere around $4000 give or take.

Check your owner’s manual for service intervals specific to your vehicle.

3.What maintenance items are most commonly recommended by the manufacturer?

They usually vary, but the following list is a good starting point:

  • Axle fluid exchange
  • Coolant fluid exchange
  • Filter (air, cabin air, fuel) replacement
  • Routine parts and fluid inspections
  • Spark plug replacement
  • Timing belt replacement
  • Tire rotations and alignments
  • Transmission fluid exchange

As all inspections and recommended service intervals vary by your vehicle make and model, be sure to check your owner’s manual for the specific needs of your vehicle.

OTHER MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

4.Does it matter where you buy gas?

It can. Sediments in gasoline tend to settle and clump. Buy gas at busy gas stations to ensure you aren’t getting a “bad load” that has been sitting for too long. Also, don’t purchase gasoline at a station if the gasoline delivery truck is there filling an underground tank, as it is stirring up impurities in the tank that can make its way into your vehicle.

5.How much extra fuel is burned when using the a/c?

When using the a/c in a typical car, it is estimated that fuel economy is reduced by one or two miles per gallon. For larger vehicles, or when traveling in extreme heat, running the a/c can cut fuel economy up to four miles per gallon.

6.Should you turn your car off when stopped for extended periods?

You shouldn’t leave your car engine idling unnecessarily for more than a minute or two. It takes less fuel to start a car than it takes to let it idle while waiting, say, in line at your kid’s school to pick them up. If you are parked waiting for a little while, shut off the engine.

7. How long should you warm the engine before driving?

Fuel-injected engines shouldn’t idle for more than a minute before driving. Fifteen to thirty seconds is really all it needs, in all seasons. An exception would be for a vehicle about to pull a heavy load, like a trailer. In this case, allow the engine to idle for about five minutes to allow the oil to become adequately warm.

8. Will it damage my engine if I continue to drive my car with the check engine light on?

If your check engine light comes on while driving, it will most likely not damage your vehicle if you continue to your destination. You should, however, make it a point to bring your car in as soon as possible to make sure that there is nothing seriously wrong with your vehicle.

If you ever have any maintenance problems or concerns, the automotive repair experts at Meridian Automotive are happy to help. Call us today, (208) 297-5573, or schedule an appointment online.