Between insurance, gas, and monthly payments, cars are a pretty major expense. Those expenses get even bigger once you factor in maintenance costs. Unfortunately, things tend to break more frequently in older vehicles, which leaves you on the hook for big repair bills. However, paying attention to your car’s needs now will help you save hundreds on expensive repairs later. Here’s what to watch out for.
It happens to everyone—you’re driving on the highway and suddenly a stone flies up and dings your windshield. You may figure that as long as it’s not a giant spiderweb, it’s okay to ignore it. But even the smallest chips can become big cracks. For example, rain and debris can make the weakened area larger leading to a more expensive fix down the road. Instead, take care of any chips right away. Usually these can be repaired without replacing the entire windshield.
If you aren’t getting the mileage you should, or your engine is sputtering, there may be something wrong with your PCV valve. You may not have heard of it before, but it’s an important component of your engine. It filters out waste gases, but over time those gases can build up on the valve. In short: It needs replacing every so often. This is inexpensive, but if ignored, it can cause major damage later.
If you notice fluid puddling under your car, take it to the repair shop right away. It could be leaking something essential. These fluids could be anything from transmission fluid to oil to gas or water. Regardless, this is something you’ll want to look out for and fix right away.
Nothing inspires fear like a check engine light. This is probably because the engine is a big, essential part, which means it can be expensive to repair. But don’t just assume a check engine light means a big bill. Sometimes, the light will come on for something as simple as a loose cap. It might not be a difficult repair, but you shouldn’t put it off. The sooner you get your engine checked, the better—and the less expensive your repair will probably be.
Maintenance is kind of a pain. Even if you make an appointment, these can often run longer than planned. And let’s face it, not having a ride is inconvenient! Still, the inconvenience of getting your oil changed now is way less than it will be if you ignore that maintenance. This can cause a lot of damage and bigger expenses in the long run. Your owner’s manual should note how often to take your car in for things like oil changes and tire rotations. Pay attention to it!