According to a 2015 study conducted by AAA, over 35 percent of Americans consistently skip or delay recommended vehicle maintenance and repairs. While there may be a host of excuses used to justify putting off auto body work, none really hold up in the face of ensuring the safety of yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
While cosmetic repairs like removing bumper or body dents, refreshing paint jobs, and fixing scratches and dings can be safely put off for a few months, structural repairs that focus on parts which impact how your vehicle runs should never be postponed.
To help you prioritize which repairs are most urgent, here are 4 of the top car maintenance issues that you should tend to consistently to ensure you’re driving safely:
The life expectancy of a car battery is anywhere between 3 to 5 years, with a shorter lifespan in hotter climates. Few things could be more frustrating than experiencing unexpected battery failure when you’re on the open road. To eliminate all guesswork—and potential for frustration—get your battery tested annually starting in year 3 of its lifespan.
A 2017 survey conducted by AAA found that over 60 percent of Americans put off checking their tire pressure on a regular basis. Ideally, drivers should be checking their tire pressure consistently, at least once every two months during warmer months and once a month during winter. Additionally, a vigilant eye should be kept on tire tread. When tire tread wears to about 4/32”, it’s probably time to invest in a new pair of tires. A mechanic should be able to help you read a tire pressure measurement if you haven’t done it before.
3. Oil change
Changing your oil and oil filter regularly helps to maintain a clean, lubricated, fully-functional engine. Oil mitigates friction among different components in the engine that would otherwise wear against each other. On average, you should be changing your oil every 7,500 miles or 4 months, whichever comes first. The cost of doing so adds up to $200 annually, a far more reasonable cost compared to the four-figure bill you might potentially incur if you neglect oil and filter changes long enough to have your engine fails due to negligence.
Every time you’re out on the open road, you’re pushing two-plus tons of steel and metal around, and at enormous speeds to boot. That’s a 24/7 hazard that requires massive safety precautions, which is why the brakes are the single most important component in your vehicle. You should be checking them annually for signs of wear and tear before it’s too late. Not only could ignoring consistent brake work lead to costly repair bills down the road; worse, it could lead to a serious car accident. Play it safe by getting your brakes inspected at a repair shop regularly.
The costs of consistent preventative maintenance don’t have to come out-of-pocket. The combination of your regular insurance policy and a quality Vehicle Service Contract can ensure that the costs you pay to ensure safety on the road are minimal.