Did you know that in most cases it is less expensive to properly maintain your present vehicle than keep replacing it every few years? For most people their automobile is their biggest investment, second only to their home. So a preventive maintenance plan for your vehicle not only makes sense, but in the long run it also will save you dollars and cents. Studies performed by independent automotive consumer groups, such as The Car Care Council (www.carcare.org) and others, document that trading a vehicle every eight years instead of every four years can save you $2,500.00 or more per year. This includes the cost of repairs and maintenance, registration, license, taxes and insurance. That is a pretty good return on investment for anyone.
In my opinion, considering the weather and climate in the southeastern area of our country and national statistics provided by organizations such as The National Highway Safety and Transportation Council, we should expect more than eight years out of the average vehicle. With the proper maintenance it is not uncommon for a vehicle to deliver 200,000 miles or more of quality service. The average driver drives 15,000 miles a year. If you drive a vehicle for eight years at 15,000 miles a year, that is only 120,000.
Now some of you may be shaking your head and disagreeing with me, because you remember the vehicles built thirty years or more ago. At 100,000 miles the engine and drive trains of those vehicles were worn out. A lot has changed since then. For the automobile being built today, it is not uncommon to see a vehicle with over 200,000 miles. That is supported by the statistic that the average age of a vehicle on the road today is 11 to 12 years old. It has increased from 7 to 8 years just a few years ago.
There can be several factors that figure into the life of a vehicle, but one of the most important and controllable factors is the maintenance the vehicle receives. One of the most valuable tools in any preventive maintenance plan for your vehicle is a regularly scheduled vehicle inspection. This may vary a little from vehicle to vehicle, and variables such as the type of vehicle and how the vehicle is used need to be considered in your plan.
What does that mean? To explain this and vehicle preventive maintenance in general, let's look at one of the basic services every vehicle needs, an engine oil change. Almost everyone knows they need to have the oil changed in their vehicle, but do they know when it should be changed or why it is so important to change it on a regular schedule? (We covered this in a newsletter last year so I hope most of you know the answer.) The recommendation for most vehicles is that the oil and filter be changed every three months or 3,000 miles The engine oil is the lubricant that keeps your vehicle running. Lubrication is not its only job; it acts as a cooling agent for the engine as well as a cleaning agent to help prevent carbon and other materials from damaging the internal parts of your engine. Moisture is one of these contaminates that naturally builds up inside your engine. It is more common in vehicles that sit a lot or are only driven on short trips around town. The heating and cooling of the engine causes moisture to condense inside the engine. The moisture combines with other contaminates inside your engine and can form an acid that can cause internal problems. This will affect the performance of your engine and shorten its life. To change the engine oil and filter requires draining the oil and replacing it with fresh oil and replacing the filter.
Every vehicle or engine that uses oil needs this maintenance, but the difference in maintenance and preventive maintenance is the inspection that should be included when the oil change service is performed. It is a natural time to check and top off the vital fluids in the vehicle, inspect the drive belts and coolant hoses, check the air in the tires and so on. In addition, inspecting the safety items on your vehicle should be a must-inspecting all of the exterior lights, the wiper blades and windshield washer and others safety items. If you have ever driven down a dark street with only one headlamp or cut on your wipers in a rain storm and could only see a little better, you will understand the importance of these inspections. We all know that a vehicle inspection cannot prevent every thing from happening, but it can go a long way toward insuring the safety, dependability, reliability and life of your vehicle.
Here at Suddeth Automotive we perform several types of inspections. In fact we inspect every vehicle we service! It is our job to keep your vehicle performing at its best and keeping it dependable and safe. In order to offer the best automotive service and repairs available, it is our philosophy to:
- Perform a maintenance and safety inspection on every vehicle we service,
- Document the results as part of our vehicle history,
- Report the results found during that inspection and
- Offer advice or solutions to your vehicles needs.
At times this can be misunderstood as our just trying to sell something, but we believe we would be doing a disservice if we did not report the results found during a service or inspection. This gives you the ability to make a more informed decision as to the care of your vehicle and us the ability to share our training, knowledge and experience to offer you better service. This is one tool that helps insure dependability and safety of your vehicle, adding to the service life of your vehicle while helping control operating cost, prevent premature failure and possible vehicle breakdown. If you went to a doctor with a problem with your foot and he addressed the problem but failed to tell you about the high blood pressure found during your visit, would you visit the doctor again or would find another one? We, too, have your best interest in mind.
Sometimes inspections are preformed to achieve a certain purpose and sometimes they are used as a preventive tool to extend the service life of your vehicle. When you bring your vehicle into the shop with a specific problem, certain inspections or tests will need to be performed to diagnose the problem in order to make the necessary repairs. When they are used as a preventive tool you are inspecting or testing components such as a drive belt for condition and proper operation or removing wheels to inspect brake pads and rotors for wear. There are many different types of inspections used and they will vary due to the type of vehicle and use of the vehicle.
Vehicle inspections cannot totally prevent your vehicle from having problems, but when used with your regular maintenance plan, they will go a long way toward preventing problems and helping insure you have many miles of dependable, safe and cost effective service out of your vehicle. Helping you achieve this is our job.