Regular Maintenance Makes 'Car Cents'

(NUI) - Dropping off the car at the shop for service is one of those things most people don't do until it is absolutely necessary. But car experts will tell you that's not the best way to approach caring for your car.

Cars need to be maintained, not just repaired when serious problems arise. In fact, just a few dollars spent on vehicle maintenance can save several times that amount in emergency repairs when you least expect them - not to mention inconvenience and potentially hazardous situations.

To keep your car running smoothly, follow these tips from Randy Drier, ASE Certified Master Automotive Technician from Snap-on Tools Company.

* Replace front brakes every 20,000 to 30,000 miles and rear brakes every 40,000 to 60,000 miles. Driving beyond that without brake service runs the risk of damaging expensive brake components such as rotors, seals, hardware and drums. Replacing rotors will cost you twice as much as a standard brake job, while replacing drums, seals and hardware will cost you three times as much.

* Have your oil changed every 3,000 miles or every three months. Changing your oil is one of the single best things you can do for your vehicle. Prolonged driving without an oil change can severely damage or even destroy the engine. An oil change every three months or 3,000 miles may spare you the significant expense of replacing the engine.

* Replace engine coolant every two years. Radiators can get clogged and filled with sediment caused from old coolants. If sediment builds up, you may need to replace the radiator altogether. Replacing a radiator costs five to six times as much as simply replacing engine coolant.

* Have transmission fluid changed every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. Doing so will strongly increase the chances that your transmission will last the life of the car and that you won't have to go to the expense of installing a new one.

* Tire rotation should be performed every other oil change - about every 6,000 miles. Rotation substantially increases tire life by dramatically reducing wear and tear.

* Replace shock absorbers and struts every 24,000 miles or every two to four years. Driving with old shocks and struts can wear out your tires, ruining the treads and causing poor handling and performance. Shocks and struts are significantly less expensive than new tires.

* Consult your owner's manual and your automotive technician. These guidelines are general rules of thumb. Always make sure to consult the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual and your automotive technician for information specific to your vehicle.

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