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10 Common Mistakes Car Owners Make (That Could Lead To Costly Repairs)

Car owners often make these common mistakes with their vehicles, and learning to avoid them can help you avoid those expensive repairs in the future.

Your car says a lot about your personality. So does your driving and the cost of maintenance. With good driving habits, much of your car's expenses can be minimized. Today’s automobiles are designed to last relatively longer with little maintenance. Yet it’s a myth that modern cars are maintenance-free.

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Regularly inspecting your fluids, having your tires checked for wear, or conducting a routine checkup are simple things you can do to reduce the cost of repairs, extending the life of your vehicle. Your car is a big investment, and for most of us, it’s a possession we want to keep for a long time. But sometimes, our bad habits often get the best of us. Which ones are you guilty of?

10 Ignoring Regular Maintenance And Repair

A lot of drivers ignore simple preventive measures such as changing oil and filter; such kind of neglect could potentially damage your engine. The aftermath is often thousands of dollars in replacement parts or worse, getting a new engine. Failing to repair minor car problems today such as a worn-out brake pad or a failing thermostat could lead to costly repairs tomorrow.

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Ideally, simple maintenance tasks such as changing transmission fluid or checking coolant levels are tasks car owners can perform on their own or hire an affordable professional mechanic. A rule of thumb is to schedule regular maintenance every 5K miles whether or not your car parts have wear and tear or need replacement.

9 Driving With A Flat Tire

A flat tire is just that: a flat tire, and typically, they need replacement, if ignored, it could lead to serious or costly damage. A blown tire during high speeds could put the lives of both the occupants of your vehicle as well as other road users at risk. Driving with low pressure could also damage your tires more, and instead of having a simple tire or pressure fix, you will need a new tire altogether. Make a habit of visual checking your tires before you drive. During a regular oil change, ask your mechanic to check your tires for wear and tear.

8 Ignoring Dashboard Warning Signs

You will be surprised at the number of vehicle owners who use their vehicles on the daily with warning lights flashing in full view. It's important to pay attention to these lights since they are designed to warn you about a serious maintenance issue with your vehicle. Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual to understand what each warning light means, and what action you should take for each. It doesn’t matter if your vehicle is running fine. A check engine light could mean a misfire, that could potentially damage your vehicle’s catalytic converter. Ignoring temperature or oil warning lights could easily result in replacing an entire engine.

7 Failing To Lubricate Your Doors And Hinges

Your vehicle’s doors and hinges will need regular lubrication to stay in shape. It's important to ensure that everything gets greased at least once a year. If your door squeaks every time you open it, it’s time to add some grease. Having dry hinges will not only drive you crazy each time they squeak, but they could also bend or bind if ignored for a while – forcing your vehicle’s doors to go off-center. Regularly greasing your doors will not only keep your car feeling like new, but it will also save you from unexpected door repair costs due to extensive damage.

6 Ignoring Strange Car Noises

As your vehicle beings to wear, you are likely to hear a few bangs, pops, and whistles as parts degrade. When your vehicle produces these unusual signs, its often a warning, something needs immediate checking. If ignored, these sounds might get louder, and depending on where they are coming from; your vehicle could break down and stall. It's important to take note when you hear these noises, as well as the circumstances that might have caused them. A strange noise coming from your tires could indicate a loose bolt or a defective part. When in doubt, have your mechanic check it out. It could save a whole lot of trouble and money.

5 Failing To Replace Your Air And Fuel Filters

Make it habit to check your vehicle’s filters every six months. Just like your check engine light, not replacing your air filters could result in significant out of the pocket expenses in the long run. Your air filter is an important part of your vehicle, failing to replace them could damage your oxygen sensor, which averagely costs a minimum of $250 depending on your vehicle’s make. Furthermore, neglecting your filter could cause your catalytic converters to fail. Catalytic converters are so precious nowadays they get stolen driving in some parts of town. Replacing these filters is quite an inexpensive way of keeping your finances happy.

4 Ignoring Safety Recalls

Safety recalls are important exercises and are sometimes ordered by the government or your car manufacturer for your safety. We all have busy schedules, and lining your vehicle up for a safety recall could mean losing the convenience of your vehicle for a couple of days, weeks or months.

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Most car owners often ignore recalls and more so, if it’s an issue they haven’t experienced, however, that doesn’t explicitly mean you won’t experience the problem sometime down the line. Often, manufacturers will cater for the cost of repair, which gives you an incentive to have the recall problem fixed. Ignoring a safety recall could potentially put you and other road users in danger. This time you might be liable.

3 Contracting Unqualified Repair Shops Or Mechanics

Regularly maintaining your vehicle can significantly dent your wallet, and often, contracting an unqualified mechanic might seem like the best resolution to save your hard-earned money. While this sometimes works in the car owners favor, it’s often high risk, low reward transaction. Hiring manufacture approved mechanics and service shops will give you peace of mind since they adhere to warranty standards. Avoid risking the life of your vehicle on inexperienced or uncertified service shops. There are hundreds of shops and mechanics affiliated and qualified with your specific model and make of your vehicle. Your vehicle is a huge investment, don’t risk it with unprofessional service to save a buck!

2 Not Changing Your Oil As Scheduled

Every car manufacturer has a recommended maintenance schedule that helps car owners know when its time to change their vehicle’s oil. While each car is different, and the old 3K mile rule is outdated, ignoring your manufacturer set oil change interval could potentially damage your vehicle's engine. In some cases, ignoring your oil change interval could nullify your warranty. Some vehicle manufacturers will invalidate your warranty when you fail to keep up with their recommendations. The average cost of an oil change is about $25 or less. This fee is a simple price to pay for saving you from thousands of dollars in engine replacement costs.

1 Driving On Empty Tank

Compared to older vehicles, most modern cars today use an electric fuel pump mounted into the vehicle’s fuel tank. Older cars used carburetors, and drivers had the luxury of driving until the entire tank was empty before going for a refill without any issues. With today's fuel-injected engines that heavily rely on your in-tank fuel pump, driving on empty could be potentially damaging your pump as well as fuel injectors. The modern in-tank fuel pumps use gas to lubricate and cool its components. If you occasionally drive your vehicle for long distances with an empty tank light on, you should probably start saving for a new pump. A rule of thumb is to fuel your vehicle when it’s a quarter tank full or below.

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