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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Introduction

    Automobiles have increasingly become a necessary convenience. They can also be extremely frustrating when not operating properly. Knowing the basics of car maintenance can help you make informed decisions as you move forward.

    One key point to understand is the difference between auto body and auto repair shops. Auto body shops focus only on the body, or the nonmoving parts of the vehicle. Auto body technicians repair dents in doors and fenders and replace broken windshields.

    Auto repair shops handle the components that contribute to powering the vehicle or making it stop. Auto mechanics maintain and repair components, such as electrical wiring, engines, transmissions, and brakes.
  • What maintenance does a car need annually?

    Some routine maintenance, such as an oil change, is recommended every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and other services, such as belts, hoses, and fuel filters, should be addressed quarterly. Annual upkeep includes brake and suspension checks. Specific maintenance depends on the miles driven and the vehicle's age. Consult the car's service manual for more detailed guidelines.

  • What does it mean when your car says maintenance is required?

    The vehicle's maintenance required light comes on at specific mileage intervals. If the car's been driven more than 4,500 miles, it might illuminate to remind you that an oil change is necessary to maintain optimal performance. The maintenance required alert differs from the check engine light, which appears for specific operating issues that need to be addressed.

  • How much should I budget for car maintenance?

    While AAA recommends setting aside $1,200 a year ($50 a month to cover auto maintenance and another $50 for repairs), much depends on the make and condition of the specific vehicle. A basic oil change and filter is approximately $50. However, the same service for a Mercedes-Benz costs as much as $200, according to The Detroit Bureau.

    Keeping up with routine maintenance will help prevent some major repairs, but components such as timing belts and brakes ultimately need to be replaced, putting a $400 to $900 dent in your wallet.
  • What kind of maintenance do electric cars need?

    Monthly maintenance should comprise checking the tire pressure and windshield wiper fluid. At 7,500 miles, the battery, power inverter, cabin heater, and charger modules' coolant levels need to be checked. A visual inspection of the vehicle's other moving parts, such as the power steering and suspension, should also be included.

  • Can you negotiate car repairs at a dealership?

    Dealerships use a sales or service writer management team to estimate parts and labor repair costs. Their mechanics focus on repairing the vehicle. While it's possible to negotiate a more palatable rate with dealerships, their preset pricing systems are more structured than independent shops. It pays to be prepared with cost comparisons.

  • Is car repair insurance worth the cost?

    Car repair insurance typically covers the repair of mechanical breakdowns, such as air conditioning, electrical and fuel systems, engines, and transmissions. The caveat is that a standard car repair insurance policy only covers a vehicle up to 72,000 miles, according to Forbes. Few vehicles experience major mechanical problems under 100,000 miles, and if they do, they're usually covered under warranty.

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