Dan Sam, a personal trainer and student who lives in Brooklyn, New York, knows firsthand how expensive car maintenance can be. “I had a 1988 Saab 9000 for three years, and when the transmission blew out, I paid almost as much to get it fixed as I paid for the car,” he says. Sam, 25, now owns a 1996 Volkswagen Jetta.
He regularly checks his car’s lights, breaks, fluids, and oil, but admits that time and financial constraints prevent him from performing all of the recommended factory-specified services.
According to a survey conducted last November by Autobytel Inc. (www.auto bytel.com), an online auto service, 72% of drivers get their cars serviced later than scheduled or not at all, and fewer than 30% of drivers service their vehicles at recommended times.
“Cars are so well made these days that people take them for granted,” says Melanie Webber, vice president of corporate communications for Autobytel. “But the reality is that cars are extremely complex machines.”
The consequences of not maintaining your car can be extremely costly. “Replacing a timing belt could be a $200 to $300 job. But if you wait and the belt breaks, you could be looking at a $2,000 to $6,000 repair job because of the damage a broken timing belt can do to the engine’s components,” says Joe Foster, a company spokesperson.
Have a reminder system. Keep a calendar of necessary repair appointments to track service histories.
Build a relationship with a reputable service professional. The Autobytel survey found that 58% of car owners take their vehicles to different garages for repairs or deal with different service representatives each visit. Using the same service professional each time provides for better servicing, a better relationship, and total knowledge of the vehicle.
Stick to a service schedule. Every car comes with a factory service schedule. Auto experts advise sticking to this guide for servicing your car. If you misplace your guide, you can easily find maintenance information on your car manufacturer’s Website.