AA Motoring Car Care: Your car’s annual health check
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Preventative maintenance is the key to vehicle servicing
We’ve all heard the old saying “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”, so should we just wait until there’s a noticeable problem before we get our cars serviced?
When you do book your vehicle in for a regular service, it’s difficult to see the benefits as they aren’t noticeable; you can’t see the new oil or air filter, so some vehicle owners query whether it’s worth the money. What are the risks of not getting a service?
People spend a lot of money on cars and when money’s short, it can be tempting to skip servicing your car. But, by choosing not to look after your vehicle properly, you run the risk of racking up much bigger bills later down the line.
Or, worse, unwittingly discovering the problem when you’re driving the car and putting yourself, passengers and other road users in danger.
The cost of a basic service for a standard petrol car starts from around $150. A replacement engine can cost anything from $2500 to $15000, depending on its quality and availability.
Cylinder head gaskets range from $1500 to $5000, radiators are around $500 to fix and water pumps start at $500 and can work their way up to $2500 after you add on a cambelt and tensioner.
If these need to be attended to, the costs to remedy the problem will still stand, but do you really want to receive a bill to get all of the work done in one go because you’ve left it too long to get the car checked? Suddenly the price tag for a yearly check doesn’t sound quite so bad.
Getting your car serviced each year and maintaining it between services is money well spent. Problems are likely to be caught earlier and, more often than not, the earlier they’re caught, the cheaper they are to fix. Plus getting your car regularly serviced will give your car a better resale value and longer life.
The key to vehicle servicing is preventative maintenance. There are replacement intervals or a service schedule for most components found in your car. This can cover anything from air pollen and fuel filters, to engine oil, antifreeze and driveline fluids. For example, sparkplugs on petrol engines have a few different options and replacement intervals range from every 30,000km to 100,00km.
If you don’t change your engine oil and just rely on “topping it up”, you can slowly clog up your car’s engine from the inside. Over time, the slow degradation of the oil lubricating properties can cause what is known as engine seizure.
Unlike fine red wine, oil ages badly and over time it degrades. The process of oxidation occurs naturally in the oil, but the rate at which this happens depends on factors such as temperature, moisture and oxygen levels and engine condition. If your engine oil is like tar, it probably hasn’t been changed for a while and you’ll be running the risk of premature engine failure, if you don’t change it.
AA Motoring recommends that ideally, cars should receive a service every six months or 10,000kms — whichever comes first — but an annual health check should be high on every car owner’s agenda.