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Car Repair Mistakes to Avoid
If you own a car, you know that maintaining and repairing it can run into big bucks. But there are some things you can do to keep your repair bill down. AutoMD.com, an online automotive repair site, lists 10 expensive mistakes to avoid when maintaining and repairing your car:
1. Neglecting preventive maintenance and minor fixes. Paying a little bit to change your oil and filter regularly could save you from having to pay thousands of dollars to repair or replace a damaged engine. Similarly, fixing small issues as they arise, such as replacing front brake pads, could save you from much more expensive repairs down the line. Other regular maintenance you should not ignore includes changing transmission fluid, checking coolants and checking tire pressure.
2. Not asking for your parts back. It’s not that you need the broken parts, but asking for the old part back ensures that the mechanic actually replaced it, rather than simply charging for a new part, and did not replace a part that was still good.
3. Neglecting tires. Driving on tires that are underinflated is a significant safety risk, and it shortens the life of your tires. Properly inflating your tires also can improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent. Finally, never drive on bald tires or tires with too little tread; this is a major safety hazard.
4. Ignoring dashboard warning lights. When you see a warning light on your dashboard, check your owner’s manual to see what you should do when the light goes on. Ignoring oil, brake and temperature warnings could lead to damage so severe you might need a new engine. Ignoring a Check Engine light could decrease your mileage by almost one-third, and ignoring a blinking Check Engine light could lead to damage to your catalytic converter.
5. Telling your mechanic what to do. Let your mechanic diagnose your car and determine what is wrong with it. If you tell the mechanic what to do, he or she will do what you ask – which may not fix the problem or even be necessary.
6. Not doing simple repairs yourself. Virtually any driver should be able to replace wiper blades or a light bulb, and with a little practice you can learn to replace a fuse or an air filter, or maybe even to do your own oil change. Work you do yourself is work you don’t have to pay someone else to do.
7. Not explaining your problem. The more you can tell the mechanic, the less time he or she probably will have to spend looking for the problem. And that saves you money in labor costs. Write down what you see, hear, smell and feel. Note when you experience the problem, what seems to make it occur and whether it goes away at some point. Let the mechanic know about any recent repairs.
8 Driving on empty. Most cars have fuel-injected engines and electric fuel pumps that use the gas in your tank to cool and lubricate their components. If you regularly drive until you are running on fumes, your fuel pump could fail. Keep your tank at least one-quarter full.
9. Visiting the dealership. AutoMD.com estimates that you can save about $300 a year by taking your car to a qualified independent repair shop rather than the dealer for most maintenance and repairs. However, the dealer is usually better for warranty work, recalls and complicated repairs.
10. Accepting your first quote. Unless you have developed a relationship with a repair shop you trust, it is a good idea to shop around for the best price. This is especially true if you have a major problem. Get several quotes, then check the reviews of the repair shops and choose the one that offers the best combination of price and reliability.