Blog Car Care Advice 14 Common Car Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid
Car Care Advice

14 Common Car Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

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We’re all guilty of taking our cars for granted from time to time — paying attention only when something goes wrong.

However, this approach can end up costing you in the long run. Ignoring your regular maintenance schedule can reduce your car’s gas mileage, lead to expensive repairs down the road, and dramatically diminish your vehicle’s resale value.

We’ll look at the most common car maintenance mistakes people make and how to avoid the costly repairs associated with them.

Let’s dive right in.

This Article Contains:

14 Serious Car Maintenance Mistakes You Might Be Making

Listed below are common vehicle maintenance errors and tips to avoid them:

1. Ignoring Unfamiliar Car Noises 

Often, the first sign of a mechanical problem is an unfamiliar noise. While it might be tempting to kick back and relax while you’re cruising, it’s in your best interest to pay attention to any strange noise. 

These noises from your car indicate issues with the different parts of your car’s machinery. A strange noise rarely disappears, and ignoring it almost always leads to bigger problems.

2. Letting Your Car Overheat

This is a grave mistake any vehicle owner could make. Your car will still run if it’s overheating, but rest assured, it won’t keep running much longer. 

Internal combustion engines generate a lot of heat and require a cooling system to work efficiently. If your car gets too hot, you can blow a head gasket, warp a cylinder head, or cause irreparable engine damage.

Preventing your car from overheating is as simple as keeping an eye on your temperature gauge and checking the coolant occasionally. It also doesn’t hurt to take your vehicle to a repair shop for a regular health check-up of your cooling system.

3. Disregarding Dashboard Warning Lights

Ignoring dashboard warning lights is a common car maintenance mistake that might lead to serious consequences. 

Most of the symbols on your dashboard are pretty easy to decipher, but if you don’t have a clue what your car is trying to tell you, they are listed in your owner’s manual. 

Some warning lights are more serious than others and require immediate attention by a mechanic. If you delay addressing certain lights, like a check engine light, you risk causing further damage to your car.

These warning lights are triggered by sensors and computers telling you that something needs urgent attention. So, you should get it checked out as soon as possible.

4. Neglecting Oil Changes

Regular oil changes can seem like an unnecessary hassle. However, if you let that motor oil sit in your engine for too long, it starts breaking down, leaving behind a sticky oil sludge. 

Sludge buildup can prevent the motor oil from providing lubrication and cooling to your engine and eventually lead to engine damage. Neglecting regular oil changes can also lead to expensive repair work.

While newer cars don’t frequently require a regular oil change, you should still replace the engine oil every 8,000 to 10,000 miles. And if you notice a lit oil light, check your engine oil immediately.

5. Not Inspecting Other Fluids

If you think engine oil is the only fluid in your car that needs attention, you might be in for a surprise. Ignoring other essential fluids such as transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant, and power steering fluid can cause leaks to go unnoticed or lead to a breakdown of your car machinery.

To keep your vehicle functioning properly, you should check and service all vital fluids, including transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid, once every month or according to the recommendations of your car manufacturer.

6. Ignoring Regular Brake Repair

It’s possible for a vehicle owner to miss the warning signs and continue driving with failing brakes, which can lead to further deterioration of the brake pads.

However, brushing off squealing or grinding noises from your worn-out brakes can cost you more than money. 

Here’s how: 
Brakes are a critical component of your car, and driving with malfunctioning brake pads can be dangerous. Not to mention that if you put off brake maintenance for too long, the damage can creep into the rotors, leading to even costlier repairs. 

That’s why you should follow the recommended maintenance schedules to get your brakes serviced on time by a mechanic.

7. Not Taking Care of Your Filters

One of the most common car maintenance mistakes a car owner usually makes is not servicing the oil and air filters. A clogged oil filter can hamper oil circulation within the engine and lead to its unexpected breakdown. 

On the other hand, a faulty air filter spells trouble in more ways than one. A dirty engine air filter can hinder your car’s engine airflow, lead to poor fuel economy, and wreak havoc on spark plugs. The cabin air filter can interfere with the air conditioning and pump unclean air into your cabin.

To keep your car running smoothly, you must swap out dirty air filters every 12,000 miles or 12 months. This will ensure better AC functioning and improved fuel economy. As for the oil filter, most manufacturers recommend changing the oil filter every time you go in for an oil change.

8. Neglecting Tire Maintenance

The tires are the only part of your vehicle that makes contact with the road, so they definitely warrant your attention. 

Tire pressure can affect your car’s braking distance, fuel efficiency, and handling. So, even if your vehicle has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), you should still check the air pressure with a good old-fashioned tire gauge. 

In-car systems are sometimes inaccurate, and checking your tire pressure allows you to check the wear on your tires and determine how much tread is left.

Your recommended tire pressure is usually printed on a door placard that you can see if you open the driver-side door. A good practice is to check your tire pressure every second or third time you refill gas — and don’t forget to check the tire wear and pressure on your spare.

9. Skipping Regular Wheel Rotation or Alignments

Another commonly overlooked vehicle maintenance task is wheel alignment and rotation.

Misaligned wheels can cause your tires to wear out unevenly and damage your steering parts. The only way to ensure that your wheels are properly aligned is to have the wheel alignment checked regularly by a professional. 

Additionally, most car manufacturers recommend rotating tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. You can check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s correct tire rotation schedule.

10. Turning a Blind Eye to Old Wipers

A car owner usually pays no heed to a windshield wiper until it stops working completely. However, driving in the rain and snow with worn wipers is not worth the associated risk.

Windshield wipers wear out over time, and wiper blades may develop cracks with regular use and exposure to weather conditions. So, when your windshield wiper starts leaving streaks or can’t clear the windshield like it used to, it’s time for a change. 

The good news is that they are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.

To be safe, replace your windshield wipers every six months or so. It could also be worth splurging on high-quality wiper blades for better performance in the long run.

11. Not Using the Correct Windshield Cleaner

Using regular glass cleaners to clean your windshield might inadvertently lead to windshield damage. One of the primary ingredients in domestic glass cleaners, ammonia, can wreak havoc on the heating elements in your rear windshield and render them ineffective. 

Always use a cleaner designed to clean automotive glass to avoid risking damage.

12. Not Heeding Safety Recalls

Safety recalls can come about for various reasons and ignoring them can be a big mistake. 

These recalls range from serious safety hazards, such as self-accelerating gas pedals or exploding tires, to minor concerns, like a peeling coat on your car wheels. Even if a safety recall doesn’t seem urgent, it’s best to address it for your peace of mind on the road.

13. Not Practicing Caution While Handling Electrical Work

Being careless while performing electrical work is another common car maintenance mistake you must avoid at all costs. Although some experts say that the current in your car isn’t typically strong enough to pose a serious threat, it’s always wise to err on the side of caution. 

Electrical mishaps can lead to more than shocks — sparking fires or overloading your vehicle’s wiring. 

Here are some tips to stay safe:

  1. Always keep your car’s electrical systems turned off when not in use. 
  2. Disconnect your car battery’s negative cable before handling your car’s electrical components.
  3. Avoid touching the batteries of hybrid cars since they’re designed to handle heavy-duty power usage and have greater shock potential than an average vehicle.

14. Not Hiring an Expert to Service Your Car

Modern cars are equipped with onboard computers that carefully monitor sensors and use them to regulate critical functions like fuel injectors, spark plugs, idle speed, and more. The computer triggers your check engine light to warn you when something’s amiss. 

While interpreting the issue can be easy, fixing it is another ballgame. Performing DIY car repair on your vehicle’s complicated machinery without the right diagnostic gear, tools, and technical know-how can quickly spiral into chaos.

That’s why you need a skilled technician to do the regular maintenance tasks for you so you can rest assured that your car will get serviced correctly.

Eliminate Car Maintenance Mistakes with AutoNation Mobile Service

A well-maintained car will have fewer issues, offer maximum fuel efficiency, last longer, and save money on costly repairs. However, errors in preventative maintenance processes can do more harm than good.

The solution?
Get your car serviced by professionals like AutoNation Mobile Service.

We’re a mobile auto repair and car maintenance company offering upfront pricing and a 12-month, 12,000-mile car repair warranty on all auto parts.

Contact us to get auto repair and maintenance services done from your driveway.