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Preventative Maintenance: Keeping Your Car Running Like New

Every driver knows that there is maintenance that comes with car ownership.  However, we may not always be aware of what kind of maintenance, or when to do what.   Proper routine maintenance is vital to keeping your car running smoothly, and keeping it out of the auto repair shop for more costly issues.  Preventative maintenance might cost a few pennies now, but it’s worth it to save dollars in the long run.  (And yes, we are aware these things cost more than spare change… but you get the idea.) On that note, the prices listed below are on average, and are only to be used as a rough guide.  

Below are a few key things you need to do, and the best time to do them, in order to keep a healthy, happy vehicle… and the cost of waiting until they need to be repaired or replaced:  

Part:How Often/Mileage:Average Maintenance Cost:Average Repair/Replacement Cost (Parts and Labor):
Oil Change3 months OR 3,000 miles, whichever comes first$40-$70Engine rebuild: $2,500-$4,000
Windshield WipersEvery 6-12 months$10-$20 per bladeAny cost incurred from an accident caused by inability to see properly
BatteryEvery 5 years$60-$150Cost of tow truck, plus replacement of battery, and any cost incurred as a result of not having a vehicle
Brake PadsEvery 50,000 (as long as you don’t commonly brake hard)$10-$50 per belt$250-$500 per axle for brake replacement, plus any cost incurred from an accident caused by brake failure
Brake FluidEvery 20,000-45,000 miles$69-$110$250-$500 per axle for brake replacement, plus any cost incurred from an accident caused by brake failure
Brake RotorsEvery 60,000 miles$130-$150 per front and back$250-$500 per axle for brake replacement, plus any cost incurred from an accident caused by brake failure
Transmission FluidManual Transmission: every 30,000-60,000 milesAutomatic Transmission: Every 30,000-100,000 miles$75-$150$2,800-$8,000 to rebuild or replace transmission
Accessory Drive BeltEvery 50,000 miles$10-$50 per beltPossible (but not exhaustive) list of damages: Alternator = $400-$650Radiator = $290-$1200AC System = $300-$2000Engine = $2,500-$4,000Power Steering = $1000+Battery = $60-$150
Coolant HosesEvery 75,000 miles$15-$50 per hosePossible (but not exhaustive) list of damages: Engine = $2,500-$4,000Radiator = $290-$1200
Air FilterEvery 30,000 miles$15-$50Contaminants can damage any part of the system, but the engine (which is directly involved) can overheat, costing $2,500-$4,000 to repair or replace.
TiresEvery 45,000 miles$50 to $400 per tire, depending on the modelWheel replacement = $750-$760Axle = $500-$1700
Power Steering FluidEvery 75,000 miles$65-$125 to flushPower Steering Hose = $160-$460Power Steering Pump = $240-$920
Spark Plugs/Ignition Every 30,000-100,000 miles$40-$150Possible (but not exhaustive) list of damages:Catalytic Converter = $400-$3000Ignition Coil = $100-$350

Long Story Short

Making sure your car is up to date on preventative maintenance is crucial if you want to avoid costly repairs.  It’s important to use these figures as rough guidelines, and always stay diligent, keeping an awareness for any unfamiliar sounds, sights, smells, or feelings while driving your car.  And if your car is given a factory recall notice, take it to the shop ASAP!  Oftentimes this repair won’t cost you anything at all, and you can avoid catastrophe later on.  Stay smart and stay safe!