Questions to Ask During Routine Maintenance

When most people bring their car into a mechanic or oil change place for routine maintenance, they simply drop the keys off and pay the bill after work is completed. They don’t think much about it and generally agree to whatever recommendations that mechanic might make about services to perform. This is a big mistake! Not asking questions or paying attention during even the most basic of car care procedures can cost you hundreds of dollars immediately or down the road.

Being a smart car owner means asking questions. Here are a few things that you should be prepared to ask your mechanic when you bring your car in for an oil change, tune-up or any other scheduled maintenance procedure:

  • Are you putting the right oil in my car? If you have an older car, you will want to consider motor oils designed for high mileage vehicles. If you drive in cold weather or frequently haul things, you might want to consider different viscosity oil than what is standard for your model.
  • Is it time to change my oil filter? A dirty oil filter can hurt your engine’s performance and rob you of gas mileage.
  • Are my fluid levels where they should be? If your fluid levels are lower than would be expected for the amount of time between maintenance visits, this could be a sign that you have a leak or some other mechanical problem which is draining your fluids and could be something to look at.

Replace Your Air Filters on a Regular Basis

Most people understand that it’s important to change your motor oil and other fluids in your car on a regular basis on order to keep your car running properly. While the old axiom of having a motor oil change every 3,000 miles might not hold true today with improvements in motor oil technology, it’s still a good idea to change your oil every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

But your motor oil isn’t the only thing you need to be replacing on a regular basis in order to maximize the performance of your car. The air filtration system is an incredibly important part of the car’s internal workings but something that many people ignore. Cars need fresh air in order to fire properly, meaning that your air filter and other parts of the filtration system need to be checked and cleaned on a regular basis.

Simply making sure that your air filter is clean can improve your gas mileage by 10 percent or more along with reducing the wear and tear on your motor and improving your engine life. Every time you replace your motor oil, making sure you check your air filter. If it is simply clogged, the particles can easily be removed; older air filters will need to be replaced. It’s an easy and cheap way to improve your gas mileage and performance.

Pay Attention to Warning Lights

The warning lights on your dashboard are there for a reason – they serve to let you know about a potential problem with your car. However, many people choose to simply ignore the warning lights, even going as far as to put tape over their dashboard in order to avoid seeing the flashing lights. This is a terrible idea! Ignoring warning lights will only make a bad situation worse and could lead to major car troubles.

It’s important that you immediately take your car into a mechanic if you get a “check engine” light or other warning on your dashboard. A mechanic can run a diagnostic check to see exactly what the problem is with your car. In many cases, the problem will only get worse as time goes on. If not fixed, many minor issues which can trigger a warning light can turn into significant problems down the road.

For example, the oil light is a sign that your car does not have enough motor oil to function properly. This is not a sign that you need to drive home and then check the situation but a warning that your car is in serious danger. Driving without enough motor oil can cause your engine to seize up and create major damage. Pull your car off the road immediately and call a tow truck to take you to a service station immediately if you get this warning sign.

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