We see all makes and models of vehicles, from the shiny brand new to the… well, let’s say those that seem to be held together with duct tape and baler twine. It may seem like common sense that if you keep up on your regular maintenance then your car should stay newer longer. Sadly, not everyone seems to know this. And as automobiles on the road are complicated machines we want to help take the guess work out of when you should be expecting some work to be done.
The biggest thing to remember is your vehicle’s warranties do NOT cover the regular wear and tear on those parts that need to be replaced at different mileage points. We often don’t see cars, trucks, SUV’s and that beloved mini-van till the consumer no longer has their dealer warranty. But unfortunately, that can be too late and result in costly repairs. Most people take the vehicle to the dealer till the warranties are up and put off this kind of work as they don’t want to pay the prices dealers charge. Or while their car is on warranty they're paying WAY more than they should. You can still bring it to a shop like ours and not hurt your warranties. But warranties don’t cover, brakes, shocks, struts and timing belt changes - which are all safety and vehicle life maintenance issues that need to be addressed on time. Otherwise, they can cause bigger, more costly issues as a result of these parts wearing out.
So our goal here is to give you some guidelines as to when you should expect these maintenance repairs on your car. This will also help you feel more confident when you bring your car in that you’re not being pressured to do unnecessary work. Mind you, this is just a GUIDELINE. Meaning driving habits are everything. They can dramatically change when this work needs to be done. For example, if you’re a hard driver braking constantly, you can expect to replace your brakes sooner. So please keep that in mind.
Car Maintenance work you should expect when:
1. 5,000 km - 8,000 km- Oil changes and fluid flushes:
I hope most car owners already know this one. Yes, it’ just an oil change, but it dramatically increases the life of your engine. They’re very important to do and need to be done on time. Of course, when you put in synthetic oil you have closer to the 8,000 km range as the oil doesn’t break down as quickly as non-synthetic oils. Also, keep in mind that you should plan your oil changes with the changes in the season. Here in Calgary the type of oil used during our winters is much different than that in the summers as the cold changes the consistency of the oil and can prevent your vehicle from starting. So make sure you change out your winter oil in the spring and put in the proper oil thickness in the fall. That will also lengthen the life of your vehicle.
Something to note: Your filters should be changed every other oil change as well.
2. 50,000 km - Brake replacement:
This is one of the most important maintenance repairs you need to perform as it’s a major safety issue. No brakes, no stopping. And every time you touch that brake peddle you’re using them which wears them out. So think of all the red lights you hit in one day not to mention all the other slowing down and stopping you do. Often when you hear grinding or squeaking, it’s too late. This doesn’t mean you won’t stop. What it does mean is you most likely will need more then the brake pads replaced. At this point, we get into needing to replace the brake rotors as well as even the calipers. That is when a brake job becomes even more costly and you could save yourself some money by checking them sooner. Again, driving habits dramatically change when you’ll need to replace them as well. It’s not the time frame that matters, but the amount of driving you do and how hard you brake when you drive. If you’re a speeder, then you’re braking harder and more often. That will reduce the life you get out of your brakes.
We here sometimes people saying they just replaced their brakes why on earth do they have to do it again? Time flies people, and what feels like 6 months is often a year. And if you’re one of those drivers that put a lot of miles on every day, you need to expect to hear that your brakes will need work at least every 50,000 km.
3. 80,000 km - 90,000 km - Shocks and Struts:
Replacing your shocks and struts are not solely for comfort purposes as they do improve your ride. They also aid in steering response and stopping power. So they’re another important safety-related maintenance repair that should not be missed.
Shocks and struts are another one of those items that if they start to fail they can cause other major parts to fail. Remember, everything is connected and when one thing isn’t doing its job properly, especially when it comes to impact control you’re going to start straining and wearing other parts out. They become that “slacker co-worker you hate cause now you have to do double the work in half the time and you’re really just burnt out and need a vacation”. And instead of a vacation, your car parts just break.
So again, you’ll save some money by not putting off this type of repair. Not to mention the fact that you’ll actually be able to steer better and stop quicker as well. Oh, and not throwing your back out every time you hit a bump is a bonus too.
4. 90,000km -110,000 km - Timing belt replacement:
This one is a big one folks. DO NOT mess around with putting off changing your timing belt as it turns into a ticking-time-bomb for your engine. We know this is a costly repair as there are a lot of man hours that go into this job. But it’s by far cheaper than replacing your whole engine if your timing belt brakes.
And let’s not forget the joy that comes with being stranded on the side of the road with your family in the middle of winter, waiting for that lovely tow truck driver to come cram you, your family and most likely your dog into that lovely truck while towing your vehicle to the closest, undesirable shop, where you’ll just have to tow it again to us so we can replace your engine. Which is exactly what will happen if you find yourself in that spot, so don’t mess around with this work, it will save you thousands of dollars, and possibly save you some grey hair too.
Also, people tend to want to save money by only replacing the essential timing belt, which we totally understand. But that is dangerous as well. There is a great deal of working parts that go into this system which is essential in order for you engine to run at all. Cheeping out and not replacing tensioners will only buy you a little time and leave you with a false sense of security. If one of those tensioners seize, you get the same result as if the belt broke. Your engine is ruined (and brace yourself for that towing experience). The worst part is, most people don’t expect it as in their minds they had the timing belt changed, so what the heck? Simple solution you not regret. Allow the technician to install the whole kit, there is a kit for a reason. You’ll save yourself even more money by getting it done right the first time.
Also, when your timing belt is being changed you might as well change the water pump since it’s on the same system. Water pumps are an essential component to keeping your engine running as well. The best part is the part isn’t expensive and if you change it at the same time you’re not adding really any labour hours to your invoice. Those parts are already being taken off and put back on. Whereas if you wait and it fails later on, then you’ll have to pay those man hours all over again to replace that inexpensive water pump. So save yourself time and money by getting it all done at once.
Hopefully, this sheds some light on what kind of work you should expect to be done when on your car, truck, SUV or mini-van… just to name a few. Of course, tires are another important component that needs to b kept up to roadworthy standards as they are the only piece actually connecting you to the road. But that replacement timeframe it completely dependent on you and the type of tire you chose to run on your car.
When your mechanic shop tells you this work needs to be done, these are the thresholds they use as inspection guidelines. They aren’t trying to hose you, and if you have any question on whether the work recommended is valid, ask them for proof, most often they can show you exactly what they are seeing. We do it all the time with our customers.
Yet, another reason to have a good relationship with your mechanic shop. They are your car’s M.D., and are what keeps you and your family safe.
If you are at any of these mileage thresholds and not sure if you need these systems worked on, give us a call, book and appointment and we will inspect it for you and let you know where your car is at.