When your mechanic tells you that one of these things needs attention, you’d be wise to listen…
1. Clogged Air Filter
This might be the easiest one on the list to take care of. Not only is an engine air filter inexpensive (~$15), it’s also super quick to install yourself, and prevents a whole mess of issues from affecting your car.
Every oil change, check out the condition of your air filter, and replace it as needed (usually every few oil changes).
What might cost $15 at a time can improve your gas mileage (which by comparison is WAY more expensive over time) and keep your engine from succumbing to very costly problems later in your vehicle’s life.
2. Engine/Transmission Fluid Leaks
While seemingly minor, fluid leaks can take a toll on your engine and transmission if not taken care of right away. Even if the leak is dripping at a drop a minute, it might only take a few days for you to notice some major issues.
And regardless of whether your vehicle is dripping dark red (transmission fluid), black (oil) or blue, orange or green (coolant), all of these can have major impacts and end up costing you thousands of dollars unless taken care of at first sight.
3. Flat Tire or Tire Blowout
A little bit of upkeep with your tires can easily double their lifespan.
Aside from picking up rogue nails or bolts on the road, most flats and blowouts come from four things:
- Not rotating your tires enough (usually every other oil change)
- Not keeping up with balancing and vehicle alignment
- Ignoring the little air light on your vehicle
- Ignoring bulges or bubbles on your tires, as well as how bald your tires are
All of this might only cost you a little money at each vehicle check-up. But combine that with some general awareness of the health of your tires, and they can potentially last 20,000 to 30,000 miles longer.
4. Windshield Issues
While wipers and washer fluid may not cause costly issues, you may regret not taking care of them when inclement weather strikes.
If you don’t replace your wipers regularly (every 6-10 months), you may find yourself unable to see in heavy snow, ice, or rain. Moreover, if you don’t switch out your regular washer fluid with the cold-weather kind (if it’s cold enough where you live) you could end up with some colorful frozen liquid, and an entire winter without a clean windshield.
5. Sludge Buildup
Sludge buildup usually comes from one thing: not changing your oil frequently enough.
If oil is often regarded as the life-blood of your vehicle, why would you ever leave it dirty? It won’t help its overall health, and can create some serious engine problems.
It only takes about $25 every 5,000 miles or so to keep your engine oil clean. From this list, this is one of the most preventable issues, and is the biggest no-brainer.
6. Rust Problems
While exterior rust won’t cause major internal issues, it can be a real pain if you care about your vehicle’s appearance. Usually, this is very preventable.
If you live in a state that receives regular snowfall, you know that by the end of the winter, your car looks incredibly dirty. But it’s not really dirt covering your car, it’s more likely sand mixed with corrosive salt used to melt snow. Well, if left untouched for too long it can also melt the paint right off your car.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on car washes, get one major one at the end of the winter. Even if it looks like the salt has washed off with an April rainstorm, it can stay invisible on your car and continue to eat away at the exterior long after the snow is gone.
7. Brake Rotor Issues
While brake pads might seem expensive to replace, they’re needed less often and are extremely important when it comes to brake problem prevention.
What you may not know is that replacing your brake pads not only keeps you safer, it also keeps your brake rotors safe from damage. And if your rotors do see unnecessary damage, you might be looking at an extra $200-$400 in repairs, all from not wanting to pay the original ~$150.
Are there any other preventable vehicle issues that you feel should be added to the list? Let us know about them in the comments, and feel free to share with those you feel could benefit from reading this on Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums.