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SSACcarcareSix ways you could be killing your car

Owning a car can be a dream or a nightmare depending on how well you take care of your vehicle, says the non-profit Car Care Council. The following are six things that many motorists do that can harm their car and their wallet....

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Handy Car Care Checklist

Start the new year fresh with this car maintenance checklist! Our general service schedule is easy to follow based on month intervals and focuses on what items need to be checked and when.

Get the checklist here

Multiply Gas Savings with Vehicle Maintenance

As gas prices continue to drop, motorists should take advantage of their savings at the pump and invest it back into their vehicles. By spending a little now to increase fuel efficiency, drivers can multiply fuel savings and save more money at the pump, says the Car Care Council.

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Car Care Council Updates Free Car Care Guide for Motorists

The non-profit Car Care Council has totally redesigned its popular Car Care Guide, adding 20 additional pages of new information to help motorists be car care aware by better understanding the when, why and how of caring for their vehicles.

Available in English and Spanish, individual copies of the new Car Care Guide can be ordered free of charge.

Get your copy here

When do I stop repairing my old car?

This is a question only you can answer, maybe it has sentimental value, or you keep pouring money into a never ending stream of repairs. A new car option costs too much, what ever the reason there has to be a stopping point of repairing your car before it breaks the bank. The reality of the answer is called B.E.R., beyond economical repair.  At South Salem Auto Care we can advise you with a few tips that might make that decision a little more informative. With over 40 years of fleet maintenance experience in the trucking industry and a Certified Caterpillar Diesel Technician I had to make that judgement call on equipment. Should we fix it and run it, or trade it off? While your average car doesn't come close to a million miles in it's lifetime, the trucks I was responsible for exceeded 1 million miles, were over 8 years old and ran every day!  The reason?  Preventive maintenance.The average age of cars on U.S. roads is at a record high of 11.5 years, according to research firm IHS Automotive. (July 2015) The average life expectancy of a car was 8 years or 150,000 miles up till few years back. Now due to improved design and technology, life expectancy of a car is considered at 200,000 miles done or 10 years. Anything over 10 years old you should consider trading up to a newer car or selling it.

The Costs of Wear and Tear

Even if you've taken good care of your 10 year old car, some-high priced repairs are unavoidable, sometimes due to excessive wear, road salt and time itself. Rubber belts and hoses dry out and crack, metal on rotors warp or wears too thin for safe braking and electrical parts stop working. Wear-and-tear items such as axle boots, wheel bearings, belts, brake pads and rotors will eventually need to be replaced. The timing belt has long been a big-ticket item on high-mileage cars or scheduled replacement.  Depending on the make and model of your car that repair can take as little as 2 hours and as long as 7 or more! On many cars it needs to be replaced at around 100,000 miles. Dealership service advisers will often recommend replacing the water pump and the other drive belts in the car at this point. This timing belt package can cost between $600 and $1,100. Repairs like this begin to surface between 90,000 and 120,000 miles. Some vehicle manufactures recommend changing the timing belt as low 60000 miles to avoid a failure in the future. If the timing belt breaks the engine stops, that's why preventive maintenance is recommended. On the water pump replacement, again it's preventive maintenance. The water pump has moving parts, moving parts wear out. Since the water pump is always wet, (or should be) corrosion can eat away at the impeller which leads to poor coolant circulation causing overheating.  Brake lines are another costly repair. Corrosion from age and road salt eat away at the metal tubing which left unchecked can lead to line failure causing brake fluid to leak. Brake lines take a lot of abuse, they are usually routed along side the frame where road salt collects and rarely ever get washed off. That salt and road grit just sits there corroding every part of the under carriage it touches for years. Undercoating does help, however on an older car the rust gets under the undercoating and by then you have the beginning of the end of the car's life. Every time you drive in the rain or snow the water enhances the corrosion process.  A leaking brake line will fail a New Your State vehicle inspection. Brake line replacement can cost as little as $100.00 and go up from there depending on how long it takes to replace them. Although something as severe as a blown motor or failed transmission will run you between $3,000 and $7,000 to replace,  such repairs still don't cost as much as buying a new car. That $3,000 or $7,000 would certainly make a nice down payment, but then there are the monthly payments to consider. You can perhaps purchase a used car for that much, but just keep in mind that another used car could come with its own set of issues.

Arguments for Fixing Up An older Car

Is the repair less than a few months' car payment on a new vehicle?If the repair is less than a single month and your vehicle is paid off, it's a no-brainier. If it's less than a couple of months and you think that you'll be able to go a few months without additional repairs or maintenance costs, it makes sense to go ahead and get the repairs done as well. Where you start running into trouble is when you have to chain expensive repairs every few months. For example, a $300/month car payment versus a $1200 repair every four months evens out pretty quickly. Again, you have to add regular maintenance into both scenarios, but repair-wise, it starts to make sense to get rid of a car that's costing you that much every four months in costly repairs. Then again, if you have a car that's setting you back that month every four months just in repairs, you probably already know you have a problem.

Is the repair less than half of the car's market value? If the answer is yes, then you're better off doing the repair. For more sporadic repairs or maintenance you may have neglected, if you take your car to us and we quote you $1500 on a vehicle that's worth $4000, you're probably still better off getting the work done. If you know your vehicle is only worth about $2000 however, it probably doesn't make much sense unless you can spread those repairs out over a period of time that makes it worthwhile (and also increases the trade-in or sale value of your used car) or get a bargain on them. If you're not sure of the market value of your car, check Edmunds' True Market Value calculator or its Kelley Blue Book value here.

Consider how long the repair will add to the life of your car. In the previous example, even a car that's only worth $2000 can be worth getting a $1200 repair on if you know that the repair will extend the life of your vehicle longer than you would normally pay that $1200 off in new or used car payments. If you know the repair is something that's only a once in awhile issue, and will add a few years to the life of your car, it makes sense to get it done.

If you're still weighing the issue, AGCO Auto has a detailed calculator on their site that can help you weigh the costs of keeping your car versus buying a new one.

I hope this helps you in making a more informed choice about repair or replace the vehicle.

Our recommended service schedule

Scheduled maintenance procedures are critically important to the mechanical stability of the modern automobile. 15k, 30k, 60k, and 90k maintenance procedures, if properly completed, will save you money by minimizing unexpected and expensive mechanical breakdowns.  A timing belt for example, if left unattended beyond the suggested replacement interval, can cause severe engine damage when it breaks.

What we check and when we look

  • Lube and Oil - Every 3K miles/3 months
  • Tire Rotation - Every 6K miles/6 months
  • Battery and cables - Every 6K miles
  • C-V Boots - Every 6K miles
  • Wheel Alignment - Every 6K miles
  • Air Filter - Every 12K miles
  • Breather Filter - Every 12K miles
  • Canister Filter - Every 12K miles
  • Cooling System Service - Every 12K miles/12 months
  • Emission Service - Every 12K miles
  • Full Engine Analysis - Every 12K miles
  • Engine Tune-Up (Non Computer) - Every 12K miles
  • Exhaust Parts - Every 12K miles
  • Fuel Filter/system - Every 12K miles
  • PCV Valve - Every 12K miles
  • Shocks/Struts - Every 12K miles
  • Steering Parts - Every 12K miles
  • Wheel Bearings - Every 12K miles
  • Wiper Blades - Every 12K miles
  • Air Conditioning System - Every 24K miles/24 months
  • Brakes - Every 24K miles
  • Engine Tune-Up (Computer) - Every 24K miles
  • Fan/Accessory Belts - Every 24K miles
  • Fuel Injector Cleaning - Every 24K miles
  • Power Flush Cooling System - Every 24K miles
  • Transmission Service - Every 24K miles/24 months
  • Oxygen Sensor - Every 30K miles
  • Cooling System Hoses - Every 36K miles/36 months
  • Universal Joints - Every 36K miles
  • Timing Belts - Every 60K miles/48 months