Too many people neglect the regular maintenance requirements of their vehicle. This inevitably leads to mechanical failures and endless frustration, as parts and components wear out due to neglect. The sad part of the story is that keeping up with necessary and scheduled maintenance is relatively easy. Vehicle owner’s manuals all feature timetable of the most important checks and inspections, such as when to change the oil or check the cabin filter. Car dealerships also go the extra mile in empowering their customers to be wise car owners, sending out reminders of scheduled check-ups. Regular maintenance is always less expensive than unexpected maintenance. When a car is under warranty, such maintenance may even be free. New car owners therefore have even less of an excuse to neglect this duty.

Most people understand the necessity of replacing the engine oil and filter. Dirty, degraded oil leads to more friction in engine parts, which can eventually cause complete engine failure. Checking the oil in between changes is the only way to ensure that both the oil is performing as expected and that there’s not a lead somewhere in the system. Today’s high-tech oil blends are designed to go 3,000 miles under virtually any conditions. If that’s not the case with your vehicle, then something more trouble may be going on.

As the only parts of the car that actually touch the road, tires are all too often forgotten. It’s a good habit to visibly check tire air pressure every time you take your car out of the driveway. Underinflated tires hurt fuel mileage and can eventually cause damage to the rims. Driving on a completely flat tire is a huge mistake and can result in an expensive repair bill. Similarly, tire rotation ensures that treads don’t wear out unevenly. The schedule for tire rotation depends upon the vehicle, the tire and the driving conditions.

A routine check at a professional garage will ensure that all fluids, belts and hoses are as they should be. Frayed belts or low fluid levels can be fixed at minimal cost. It’s far better to spot a belt in need of replacement before it breaks. When parts go bad inside a moving engine, the damage is often far worse than it otherwise would have been. Regular maintenance is all about knowing what can go wrong and keeping an eye on those components.

Today’s new cars have sophisticated computer monitoring systems that can alert drivers of troubling conditions, such as low oil levels or low air pressure in a tire. However, these systems are not a replacement for manual checks of essential systems. Like any other automobile component, the monitoring system itself can be faulty. If you suspect something’s amiss with your vehicle, then trust your instinct and have a professional take a look under the hood. If the dealership sends notifications about maintenance, don’t toss them in the junk mail. Spending a little now always saves a lot later.