Don’t Be a Mule: Automobile Preventive Maintenance

by David Bakke

preventive maintenanceI have enjoyed writing this blog since the very first day I created it, but I get more personal satisfaction when I can give you tips and pointers with a personal twist to them.  To me, it is these kinds of articles that tend to sink in more.

Anyways, today I am writing to you about your car preventive maintenance.  And obviously, I am here to stress the importance of it.  Also, I would say that the importance of this grows exponentially as does the age of your car.

As you may or may not know, I drive a 1994 Toyota Tercel.  And I will say it again that it is one of the best investments that I have ever made.  I have spent very little in the way of repairs for this car over the course of the last 16 years.  However, I do feel that the end is coming near.   The repairs are starting to creep up on me and it may be getting to the point to where a newer car is needed.

However, I could have saved myself a load of money had I simply done some preventive maintenance on this car when I should have.  I had taken it to my “repair guy” for another matter when he suggested to me a few things that needed changing.  On a different note, if you do not have a car “repair guy” in your circle of contacts, you should get one.  This man has saved me thousands over the years when compared to taking my car to a professional repair shop. 

Regardless, he told me last November that I would need a few things changed on the car, one of them being a distributor cap.  Rather than getting the parts right away and getting the job done, I put it off.  I procrastinated through the holiday season, and it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I actually purchased the part.  A distributor cap cost about $12 for my car.  He would have changed it for about $15 in labor.

Then I procrastinated even more scheduling the repairs.  Well, guess what happened?  Sometime around the beginning of February, my car wouldn’t start when I was at work one day.  I had to pay to have it towed to a professional place, pay to have it looked at, and pay the “professionals” price to have the repair done.   The diagnosis??  A new distributor cap was neededThe final tally after all was said and done?  Five hundred and eighty seven dollars.  Yep.  I basically pissed away about $560 because I was being stupid and lazy.

I did not beat myself up too bad over the whole ordeal-I paid for the repair, licked my wounds, learned my lesson and moved on.  By the way, when stuff like this happens to you, you simply can’t beat yourself up too bad.  The only thing you can do is learn your lesson, move on, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Along with that, I would like to summarize a few other points I learned out of the whole expensive mess.

First, you do not necessarily need to follow your manufacturer’s timeframe on some preventive maintenance.  For example, oil changes.  “They” say to do it about every 3,000 miles.  I do it about every 5,000.  Same with your air filter and your oil filter.

Second, for your “extended” preventive maintenance (i.e. your 50,000 mile stuff and so on) I would definitely follow the time frame.

Third, the older your car, the more important it is to keep up with preventive maintenance.  If you notice something that needs to be changed or someone tells you about it, do it!  If you didn’t get that part-go back up and re-read my $560 mistake.

Preventive maintenance on your car is important, especially when you drive a car the age of mine.  It reminds me of the commercial from way back when for some kind of auto repair place.  The tagline was “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”  I really wish I had paid the $25 on the front end for my car repair, rather than the $560 it cost me after it was too late.

As always, your comments and feedback are appreciated below.


1 Amanda April 5, 2010 at 5:16 am

Hello I really enjoyed reading your articles.Today easter sunday and i tried working on my car to save money. I was trying to replace my upper hose and i had one clamp off on top and then my friend tried to get the lower clamp loose and it broke the end off the fitting the hose was on so now i have 3 leaks. Hopefully it will get back on the road again. Thank you for sharing your ides and tips for saving money. A penny saved is a penny earned.

2 David/Yourfinances101 April 5, 2010 at 9:12 am


Hey, great story! I do always try to make sure that I never bite off more than I can chew, and I also, that I know when to call a professional.

Although it doesn’t seem that you fared too well, at least I am sure you learned a few things.

Thanks for commenting!
.-= David/Yourfinances101´s last blog ..Saving Money on Groceries…Stock Up, but Empty Out, Too =-.

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