Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Making mistakes is a part of life, but making mistakes with your vehicle can be costly! Here are what we believe to be the top five biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to their cars.
1. Skipping Oil Changes
Vehicles may vary on how many miles you can go in between each oil change (check your manual for instructions), but skipping oil changes is a big mistake. The oil that lubricates the parts in your engine needs to be able to flow freely - when it isn't changed as often as recommended, it gets thicker and can get dirty. At the very least, it will lower your fuel efficiency. At the worst, it could damage your vehicle as the parts that depend on the lubrication warp and wear and the engine stops working. Changing your oil as recommended is much cheaper than replacing an engine. In addition, having your vehicle regularly in to a shop (if you don't perform your own oil changes, of course) is the best way to stay on top of what other maintenance and repairs need done.
2. Using the Internet for Your Final Diagnosis
Everyone uses the internet to find out information, but just like with medical issues, you shouldn't depend on an internet diagnosis being 100% accurate. It may lead you in the right direction, but your best bet is to take your vehicle to a reputable repair shop to diagnose the problem. Dicky's Doghouse has invested in tens of thousands of dollars worth of the most up to date diagnosis equipment, and our technicians are trained to diagnose problems. Though you might be able to avoid labor costs by doing it yourself, and we respect people who are able and willing to take these repairs on themselves, a repair shop could save you time and money by finding the problem the first time and not replacing parts that were still good, but the internet suggested were the problem. We also provide a warranty on all of our repairs that can't be beat!
3. Buying Used Cars Without Having Them Checked
When shopping for a used car, you always (I hope) take the vehicle for a test drive. Another thing you should do is take the vehicle to a repair shop to have it checked over. Any dealership or car lot that won't let you is a place where you don't want to do business. Taking this extra step, though it might cost you a few bucks at the repair shop, could potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. They will be able to spot major and minor issues that might help you negotiate the price with the seller, or it might convince you to continue your search for a different vehicle. Read about our Courtesy Check Sheets to see how we inspect vehicles that are brought to us at Dicky's Doghouse - now we use digital versions of those check sheets!
4. Hard Braking
This is a habit that many people do all the time without realizing that it is a mistake. Your brakes naturally wear out over time, but harsh braking can cause them to overheat. When you brake hard on overheated brakes, they can warp, make them less effective, and make the rotors bumpy. If you are constantly putting them under extreme pressure - which stopping harshly does - they are going to wear out faster and this will cost you money over the lifetime of the vehicle, even if you can replace your brake pads and rotors yourself. The best bet, when you can be prepared for stops (like with stoplights and stop signs) is to let off of the accelerator and allow the vehicle to coast and decelerate on its own, using the brakes as little as possible. Dicky was able to get 120,000 miles out of the brakes on his truck by practicing these smart braking techniques!
5. Not Knowing Details About Your Car
It is really prudent to open up your owner's manual and learn some details about your vehicle, or at the very least, ask your mechanic about your car. One thing to know is where your spare tire is located, and where to place the jack when changing a tire. The most important thing to look at is the schedule for routine maintenance. Your manual will tell you how often to change the oil, how often to check and/or replace brakes, belts, hoses, filters, etc. Not knowing this information can cost you a lot of money. For instance, many people don't know that replacing timing belts is part of a routine maintenance schedule. Some vehicles recommend checking and/or replacing these belts every 60,000 miles! It is one of the most expensive routine items, but it will be much more expensive if a broken belt causes damage to your engine.