What are the consequences of postponing maintenance?
Many parts on your vehicle(s) are interrelated. Ignoring maintenance can lead to trouble: specific parts — or an entire system — can fail. Neglecting even simple routine maintenance, like changing the oil or checking the coolant, can lead to poor fuel economy, unreliability, or costly breakdowns. It also may invalidate your warranty.
What maintenance guidelines should I follow to avoid costly repairs?
Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule in your owner's manual for your type of driving. Some repair shops create their own maintenance schedules, which call for more frequent servicing than the manufacturer's recommendations. Compare shop maintenance schedules with those recommended in your owner's manual. Ask the repair shop to explain — and make sure you understand — why it recommends service beyond the recommended schedule.
What warranties and service contracts apply to vehicle repairs?
There is no "standard warranty" on repairs. Make sure you understand what is covered under your warranty and get it in writing.
Warranties may be subject to limitations, including time, mileage, deductibles, businesses authorized to perform warranty work or special procedures required to obtain reimbursement.
The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you'll be able to head off repair problems. You can detect many common vehicle problems by using your senses: eyeballing the area around your vehicle, listening for strange noises, sensing a difference in the way your vehicle handles, or even noticing unusual odors.
Small stains or an occasional drop of fluid under your vehicle may not mean much. But wet spots deserve attention; check puddles immediately.
You can identify fluids by their color and consistency:
Some problems are under your nose. You can detect them by their odor:
Squeaks, squeals, rattles, rumbles, and other sounds provide valuable clues about problems and maintenance needs. Here are some common noises and what they mean:
Squeal — A shrill, sharp noise, usually related to engine speed:
Click — A slight sharp noise, related to either engine speed or vehicle speed:
Screech — A high-pitched, piercing metallic sound; usually occurs while the vehicle is in motion:
Rumble — a low-pitched rhythmic sound.
Ping — A high-pitched metallic tapping sound, related to engine speed:
Heavy Knock — A rhythmic pounding sound:
Clunk — A random thumping sound:
Difficult handling, a rough ride, vibration and poor performance are symptoms you can feel. They almost always indicate a problem.
Brake problems have several symptoms. Schedule diagnosis and repair if:
The following symptoms indicate engine trouble. Get a diagnosis and schedule the repair.
Poor transmission performance may come from actual component failure or a simple disconnected hose or plugged filter. Make sure the technician checks the simple items first; transmission repairs normally are expensive. Some of the most common symptoms of transmission problems are:
Car, Boar, Cycle trouble doesn't always mean major repairs. Here are some common causes of trouble and techniques to help you and your technician find and fix problems:
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