“It’s time to get that replaced.”
Those are words that no car owner wants to hear. After all, replacing, or repairing a car part means that you’re going to spend money, and if you’re short on cash, you may understandably be tempted to put off getting something fixed. After all, if your car is fully functioning, and money is tight, why not wait a little while longer? Indeed, sometimes the answer is, “Why not?”
But at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission we will make sure you understand what needs to be complete immediately and those things that you can wait and schedule later. Some car parts, when they start weakening, can set off a chain reaction and cause other problems with your vehicle. Sometimes trying to save a $60 repair job can translate into a few months from now, or in even a few days, having a $600 problem. Putting off a car repair or delaying in getting a car part replaced is often like when you need to go to the dentist with an aching tooth. If you went to the dentist, you’d pay for the visit and for the cavity to be filled, and you wouldn’t exactly have a blast doing it. But it’s a lot better than waiting and later paying for a root canal.
Let us be more specific about what sort of car repairs can be dangerous to put off, both financially and safety-wise. We have worked up some of the problems you could experience and what happens if you put off your car repairs.
Don’t delay: replacing your brake pads. You may well think, “So what? Brake pads aren’t brakes. I can still stop the car. Other than having my car screech every time I stop or slow down, what’s the harm? I’ll get used to the noise.”
Why that can be a problem: The brake pads protect the rotor, one of the mechanical parts of your brake. The pads press on the rotor and create friction that allows the car to slow down. If your brake pads start to fall apart, what’s left is basically metal grinding onto the rotor, which will ruin the rotor. Other pieces in the brakes, the calipers and pistons can be damaged, too. Basically, if your brake pads go, and you ignore it, you could be looking at having to eventually replace your entire braking system.
Don’t delay: replacing your timing belt or serpentine belt. If you’re told your belts need replacing, you may easily figure that you can wait. After all, you drove the car into the garage perfectly fine. Why wouldn’t you be able to drive out?
Why that can be a problem: You probably can drive the car away – but you’ll be driving on borrowed time. If your timing belt breaks, your engine will stop working, which means you’ll stop driving, and, well, there goes your afternoon. But you could lose more than an afternoon. You could have some serious engine damage. Fortunately, a lot of newer cars don’t have timing belts – they have timing chains, that will last the entire lifetime of your car as long as you keep getting oil regularly (yeah, there’s always a catch).
But your car, new or old, does have a serpentine belt. Now, the good news is that newer cars have very good serpentine belts. Yours may last 60,000 to 100,000 miles, and if you sell your car before it gets too along in years, you may never have to replace it. If it is suggested you need a new one, you should probably get it. Your serpentine belt keeps your alternator humming, your power steering pump operating, your air-conditioning and possibly your water pump running efficiently. If your serpentine belt snaps a lot of lights will come on your dash board. The car will still run and drive, but you need to stop immediately and shut off the engine. Since the serpentine belt keeps many, if not all of your vital systems running, when it breaks you will lose power steering, electrical power, A/C and you will lose your water pump, which keeps the engine cool. If you keep driving, the car will eventually stop running and if you’re really unlucky, instead of an inexpensive replacement, you may be looking at replacing your entire engine.
Don’t delay: getting your leaking or broken exhaust replaced. “Who cares?” you might think. “The car is a little loud, so what? I can handle it.” The check engine light might be an indicator of an exhaust issue as well.
Why that can be a problem: Paying for a new muffler, or catalytic converter isn’t fun, but putting it off will lead to bigger issues. Exhaust issues may indicate other problems with your vehicle. It also has the vehicle operating outside of the manufacturer’s specifications. The computer instructions that controls the efficiency and performance of your engine is based on a vehicle with a fully functioning exhaust system. An exhaust leak, bad muffler or a bad catalytic converter alters the normal function of the exhaust system which can be problematic for the engine computer. And you may not need a new muffler. Maybe it just needs a quick fix. But if you wait and put off taking your car to at least be checked out, your muffler problems can damage other parts of your car. But there are other dangers, too, financial and a safety one. When your exhaust system is damaged, that affects your fuel – so you might find yourself spending more money at the gas pump and far worse, exhaust fumes could start coming into your car. If you notice a change in the way your exhaust sounds or if you check engine light comes “ON” bring your vehicle to Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission to have it checked out.
Don’t delay: getting your oil changed. Yes, you can drive awhile without getting your oil changed. If your car manual suggests getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles, you’re probably not risking trouble if you go 3,300 miles. If your car requires full synthetic motor oil the oil change you can get around 5,000 - 7,000 miles between changes. Going more than 10% over these numbers could bring some big trouble.
Why that can be a problem: What you don’t want to do is become too lax about regular oil changes or forget them all together. Oil is the life blood of your engine. It keeps all of the parts moving together without touching each other. When you put miles on your engine the oil progressively gets contaminated with dirt, mostly that gets through your engine air filter. The oil filter does exactly that, it filters out the bigger particles of contamination. Rarely to never getting your oil changed allows these contaminants, dirt, to continue to accumulate in the oil. The filter will eventually become full of contaminants and may go into a bypass mode, no filtering at all. These contaminants act as abrasives to the close tolerances inside your engine. Your engine wears much faster and it wears much faster in the important high use areas, which leads to shorter engine life. It’s, yes, that important. Can you put off an oil change for a little while until your bank account is a little more robust? Sure, probably if you haven’t already put it off forever. Replacing your oil is relatively inexpensive; replacing a car is not.
Don’t delay: servicing your transmission. As long as it drives and shift like it always had, most people don’t give the transmission a second thought. Sure, you can drive a long way without servicing the transmission, but it may be too late when you start having drivability issues. Slow engagement, slow shifts, slipping, shuttering, failure to shift are some of the things to look for.
Why that can be a problem: If you don't change the transmission fluid on schedule, you'll be lubricating your transmission with metal shavings and other contaminants. This will shorten the transmission's life. Transmission fluid is a specialized fluid that gets contaminated from the normal functioning of your transmission. Most all transmissions have filters which filters out some of the contamination. As you put miles on your transmission the contamination continues to accumulate, in the fluid, in the pan, in the filter and on the magnet. Yes, most transmissions have magnets to collect any metal particles that are created. Because more heat is generated in an automatic transmission, automatic transmission fluid degrades and breaks down with use. Now that you have some understanding of how the transmission works, it makes sense to have the transmission regularly serviced. Manufacturers are different but a good rule of thumb, is at least every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. Changing the fluid more often is not a problem.
Your car payment is probably one of your bigger bills every month. Vehicles are expensive to buy and to own. So, holding on to a well-maintained vehicle will allow you to gain some great financial benefits when you are driving with no car payment. Well, reality is, there’s always a car payment, it’s the cost of maintaining and repairing an aging vehicle. In most cases, the cost to keep a car maintained as it ages, is much lower than a new car payment. If you need assistance in keeping your vehicles maintain properly or have questions, please come see us at Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission and we can help keep your vehicle properly maintained.