Years ago, vehicles required more frequent maintenance to keep them running well. The latest vehicles have been designed to eliminate much of this. In fact, some of the maintenance performed on cars by unscrupulous mechanics can actually harm your car!
Do It Yourself and Save Money
Even if you don't know a piston from a steering wheel, there are a number of simple services you can do yourself, rather than paying a service facility to do, since they'll charge you twice as much for the part as an auto store will. Things like windshield wipers, air filters and tail lights can be purchased and installed in a few minutes with just a screwdriver.
Many service facilities will insist that you need new wipers or an air filter. The fact is that air filters will usually last at least 20,000 miles and wiper blades have a life-span of from one to two years. Changing them more often is just throwing money away! Tail lights can be replaced by removing a couple of screws. (Although headlights can be replaced, too, they need to be adjusted properly after installation for safety and proper illumination at night. This task might be better left to a professional.)
Most mechanics want you to replace engine oil every 3,000 miles, but that's not necessary with today's automobiles. Manufacturers currently recommend oil changes every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Dirty oil is also an environmental hazard, so not only do you waste money, but if you change oil too frequently you're affecting the environment. That oil has to be disposed of, and not all mechanics do it properly.
Many service facilities will insist that you get your transmission "flushed" periodically. In the past, this was necessary to get rid of impurities that built up in the fluid. Now manufacturers do not recommend a transmission flush, since it could actually harm your car by putting too much pressure on its system.
If your car isn't running correctly, and you do need service, be wary of fast-talking mechanics that tell you that a big repair is necessary. Dishonest mechanics, aware that many people aren't well-versed in car maintenance, will agree to a repair that is either not needed, or is much too extensive for the problem. There have been documented instances where the mechanic has simply put the same part back in the car since there was nothing wrong with it. Before any service is performed, ask the mechanic to show you what the problem is, and always ask to see the part that was replaced.
Know Your Car
The unfortunate reality is that mechanics make money off your mechanical ignorance. While most vehicle service facilities are not dishonest, it’s easy for them to make a quick buck from what you don’t know. Your best bet is to learn about your car as much as possible to avoid the cost of a dishonest mechanic.