With a sluggish economic recovery and today’s consumers watching their finances carefully, it’s no surprise that the average age of vehicles in the United States is more than 11 years old, according to automotive research firm R.L. Polk and Co. With motorists holding on to their vehicles longer than ever before, maintenance takes an even greater importance in keeping roads — and people — safe.
The cost of neglect
“It’s tempting to avoid car maintenance in tough economic times, but that’s not a financially sound method to manage the big investment you’ve made in your vehicle,” notes Tony Molla, vice president of communications for the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). “Surveys of our certified technicians show that a well-maintained vehicle lasts longer, retains more of its resale value, pollutes less, and gets better mileage than one that’s been neglected — to say nothing of being safer to operate.”
According to the pros at ASE, neglect causes components to wear out faster than they would otherwise (poorly aligned tires, for example) and can result in minor problems growing into more expensive repairs (worn brake pads will eventually damage the more expensive rotors). ASE suggests motorists, whether they are do-it-yourselfers or take their cars to ASE-certified technicians, become familiar with their owner’s manual and follow the service schedules. “The owner’s manual is under-utilized; it summarizes systems to check and provides schedules based on normal or severe driving,” notes Molla.
While some people might relish a weekend tinkering with the family car, today’s technological advances under the hood and busier lifestyles find more consumers in search of dependable, trustworthy automotive service and repair.