Let’s face it, some things in life don’t come with owner’s manuals. Dogs don’t. Children don’t. Sometimes, even if you do get an instruction manual, it feels like it was written in a foreign language. Or, the manual is full of smiling Swedish people who are much better at assembling things than you are.
So, how do you know how to care for your car, especially if you ‘lost’ the owner’s manual? Read on!
First, have a good relationship with your mechanic. Just like your family doctor or your favorite bartender, good relationships mean better service, which translates into fewer headaches for you. Not everyone has this kind of relationship with their local mechanic, and they do deserve your pity. Some folks go to <INSERT BIG CHAIN HERE> for their inspections and oil changes, then go to a mechanic only for major repairs. This might seem convenient or cheaper, but it’s also a missed opportunity to develop a relationship with someone who will know what is normal for your car.
That’s Keven, replacing a headlight, and hamming it up for the camera. You won’t see that at a discount lube place.
This relationship can actually save you money. For example, if we know cost is a concern, we might suggest you order your next set of tires from tirerack.com, even though it will take three days for them to arrive at Schummer’s. Of course, since you come in for regular oil changes, you’ll know when to order them and how much they will cost before you’re stuck replacing them for your annual inspection. That means you won’t have to wait, and you can budget ahead of time!
Skipping the fast lube can actually pay other dividends, too. We do a multi-point inspection with every oil change, so we’ll probably notice that your tail light is out before you do. And we’ll fix it, and answer any questions you have about funny noises coming from under the hood. Especially if you don’t feel confident talking car repair, having a friendly face available to answer all your questions is priceless. That’s what we strive to offer at Schummer’s.
Second, educate yourself. There’s a consumer advocacy group called the Care Care Council with a great mission: “The Car Care Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating motorists about the importance of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair through its Be Car Care Aware consumer education campaign.”
They have a decent Car Care Guide available here. It’s worth a read to familiarize yourself with what it takes to get the most out of your vehicle. After all, you spent a lot of money on it, so keep it running as long as you can. The biggest car expense is having to buy a new car because you missed your routine maintenance.
This book is no substitute for a long term relationship with your mechanic, but every piece of information can help you plan for the future and avoid unexpected car care related expenses.
And at the very least, stay legal. In Pennsylvania, you have to have your car inspected annually for safety and emissions. Even if you take it to Bob’s Discount Car Inspection and skip half of your oil changes, be sure to get your annual inspection done and fix any issues. If you only do the minimum yearly inspection, your car won’t last as long or run as well, but at least the tires won’t fall off on I-95.
Of course, if you take it to Schummers Auto year after year, we’ll always be available to tell you how to care for your car. We’ll let you know what maintenance is due, and what major repairs to expect next, and you’ll know it before it happens. (No one wants to spend $500 on struts. But, if you need to, some advance notice is really nice!)
Many states don’t have mandatory inspections and local, family owned auto repair is hard to find. (Ask my in-laws in South Carolina about it…) Not to mention, those states have higher rates of accident fatalities because people often drive unsafe cars and don’t know it. If your state doesn’t have an inspection law, make sure to get professional eyes on it regularly (like when you get your oil changed.)
So that sums it up! Want to be Car Care Aware? Have a relationship with your mechanic. Educate yourself. And always make sure you’re meeting your legal requirements. Oh, and pick those hamburger wrappers up off the floor. Seriously.