Would you like to see your car or light truck last longer than the payments?
Are you one of the many people who are afraid to look under the hood of your car,
because it looks complicated and confusing?
Are you afraid to go to a mechanic because you do not know what is wrong with your
car, and you are worried that the bill will be astronomical, even if the problem seems
If your answer to any of these questions is “yes”, this book is definitely for you.
This book is for people who don’t know much about cars, who are afraid to go to any
kind of auto repair facility, and who try to avoid these trips as much as possible. This
book is for people who know that the mechanic may present them with long list of items
which “should be fixed immediately” – and they know that at the bottom of this list will be
a total that makes their heart skip a beat. This book is for people who really don’t know
what work should be done on their car.
Well, worry no more. The authors will explain in clear language what kind of
maintenance you should be doing, and how often. You can follow this simple advice
and reduce the stress and confusion in your life. When you go to a mechanic and tell
him exactly what you would like to have done, it makes you look like a person who
knows what he or she is talking about.
The key concept that this book will explain to you is the importance of preventive
maintenance. What is preventive maintenance? Perhaps an example will make it clear.
The majority of passenger cars today have front-wheel drive. The front brakes on these
cars last between 20-40,000 miles (32-64,000 km). At that mileage, the front brakes
should be checked as part of a preventive maintenance program. If the brake pads are
thin (less than 1/8” – 3 mm) or if the rotors are shiny and have grooves on their
surfaces, then a brake job is necessary. At this point the rotors can be resurfaced, the
pads can be replaced, and the front brakes of your car will be in good working order
again for another 20-40,000 miles. This type of brake job costs around $70.
The alternative is to defer the preventive maintenance and to wait until the brake pads
wear out completely and destroy the rotors. The brake job that results will cost
hundreds of dollars, instead of $70. Spending $70 will save you hundreds of dollars
down the line. That is the concept of preventive maintenance – by doing scheduled
inexpensive maintenance, you can reduce or eliminate the need for those
astronomically expensive visits to the mechanic.
It doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you own. The preventive maintenance system
works whether you have purchased a “muscle” car to outstrip everyone on the road, or
a family sedan to carry you and your children to the grocery store and back, or a light
truck to haul brush, or an SUV to take you “where no man has gone before”. No matter
what kind of car you drive preventive maintenance saves you time, trouble, and money.
Not all vehicles are created equal, of course. The inspection intervals and the service
and maintenance schedule should be created specifically for your vehicle, taking into
account the type of driving you do. Following the advice laid out in this book will reduce
the amount of money you spend keeping your car on the road, and your car or light
truck will last longer than the payments! It’s that easy!
This book is not a repetition of your car’s confusing manuals; those can be difficult to
read even for the professionals! Instead, the authors present clear and simple
recommendations about which system of the vehicle should be serviced, when, and
why. Many systems in today's car do not require any maintenance at all for long
periods of time – but nothing lasts forever. When systems like brakes or steering
malfunction, they present significant dangers not only to the driver and passengers of
the affected vehicle, but also to other vehicles and pedestrians. This is why preventive
service and repair of those systems is so important!
The authors have more than 35 years of experience in car service and are putting that
wisdom to use to help you maintain your cars better, either by performing the work
yourself or getting it done by professionals. The authors will save you money by helping
you to avoid unnecessary repairs. Proper preventive maintenance will help you to get
more life out of your car.
The authors have seen cars that still run fine after 250,000 miles (400,000 km) or even
more. The owners of these cars did nothing special except to follow the simple rules
described in this book. Anybody can do this. Keeping your car or light truck running
longer makes good financial sense. The price for new vehicles is always going up, and
a car payment of $350 or more per month is now considered normal. The depreciation
of many new cars in the first year and the repair costs of late model cars make it
financially mandatory to keep your present car or light truck longer. This is possible,
and the key to success is in your hands. The key is REGULAR MAINTENANCE!
Happy motoring to you!
-- The Authors
THE PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE SYSTEM
Preventive maintenance is a schedule of service and repair procedures performed at
regular intervals to prolong the life of the car and to minimize unexpected breakdowns.
Why is preventive maintenance so important?
1. Ignoring regular maintenance can void the car manufacturer’s warranty.
2. Maintenance doesn’t cost a lot of money, but unexpected repairs do!
3. It doesn’t take a lot of time or inconvenience to do a regular maintenance. Many
mechanics will do an oil change and fluids check while you wait.
4. Regular maintenance makes your car more reliable. A more reliable car is a car
you will feel better about driving.
The preventive maintenance schedule is different for every car. Some cars are driven
for short distances, and are not driven every day. Most cars are driven in “stop and go”
traffic for hours at a time, and are driven regularly.
The best source of the maintenance schedule for your car is the car’s owner’s manual.
The owner’s manual contains the recommended schedules of maintenance for many
major components. Our book will give you basic guidelines, explanations and
recommendations for the service of your vehicle, and will cover some areas that your
owner’s manual may leave out.
You can’t go wrong following these recommendations and adjusting the maintenance
schedule intervals in accordance with your type of driving and what you use your car
for. A late-model car should serve reliably for at least 200,000 miles (320,000 km). The
key is preventive maintenance!
Let’s take a look at what goes into preventive maintenance:
1. regular inspections
2. regular scheduled maintenance
3. regular scheduled repairs: brakes, timing belt, etc.
Inspections are a very important part of preventive maintenance.
There are two types of inspections that should be performed on your car.
The first type of inspection is an inspection that you are probably doing right now and
don’t even know it – the visual inspection you give your car every time you drive it!
You see your car every day and if you train your eye then you can spot the first signs of
trouble. You can save yourself a lot of money by learning the very simple inspection
routine. Even if you know absolutely nothing about cars this simple inspection routine is
easy to learn.
First, let’s examine the things that you can spot without any extra effort: bad tires and
fluid leaks. Bad tires are pretty obvious and easy to spot – look for the sag and the
bulge at the bottom of the tire that indicate dangerously low tire pressure. A bad tire
can cause an accident. Replacing the bad tire can save your life!
Fluid leaks are also easy to spot. When your car is parked overnight, look under the
engine in the morning. If you see a green puddle, you’ve got a problem. Look under
the hood of your car and see if there is a leaking hose. If this is the case, don’t start the
engine – get a tow. It may cost you a little up front but you are saving an engine and a
lot of money!
Other checks are easy to accomplish, you just have to make the time for them. About
once a week – or each time you fill up the car, if you put a lot of miles on your car –
check the fluid levels. The most important check you can perform is to keep an eye on
your oil level. A low level of oil can damage your engine! Keeping oil at the proper level
can save your engine and save you a lot of money!
A low level of antifreeze can cause your engine to overheat – this is a surefire way to
destroy the engine! Also a low level of oil or antifreeze can indicate a more serious
problem – this is a reason to see a professional mechanic to inspect a potential leak.
If you know how to replace a tire, you can inspect the front brakes yourself. Remove
the tire and look at the brake pads. Immediately next to the rotor you will see a brake
pad supported by the metal plate. The thickness of a new pad is 3/8” (10mm). If the
brake pad is less than 1/8” (3 mm) thick, it’s time for a brake job. Other important things
to look for are thinning of the rear brake shoes (if equipped) and any leaking brake fluid.
While driving, keep an eye on your lights and gauges. If the oil light comes on, pull over
carefully and shut the engine off! If the temperature gauge needle jumps to the red
zone, pull over carefully and shut the engine off! It’s very tempting to drive the car that
last mile to the mechanic yourself and save the tow charge – but it makes no sense to
destroy a $1500 engine to avoid a $75 tow fee. The oil light and a temperature gauge
are designed to be a warning for you – to save your engine from destruction and save
yourself a lot of money!
As you can see, you are the very first “line of defense” for your car.
The second type of inspection is an inspection done by professionals.
When you get your oil changed, ask the mechanic to look over the bottom of your car
for leaks and broken axle and power steering boots. You can also ask him to examine
the condition of belts and tires. It’s not going to cost a lot of additional money, but it will
provide you with very important information about your car’s condition every 3,000 miles
All four tires should be balanced and rotated every 6,000 miles (10,000 km) or every
second oil change. Balancing means that tires should be removed from the car, put on
a special computerized machine that spins the tire to a speed of approximately 65 MPH
(100 kph), and then specially weighted in order to eliminate vibration. Rotation means
moving the tires that were on the front axle to the rear axle, and vice versa.
While having the tires balanced and rotated, take the opportunity to inspect your brakes
by yourself, or ask the technician to do that for you. If you or the technician see any
problems, such as low brake pads, shoes or leaking brake cylinder or calipers, you will
need to see a mechanic. By doing this regular inspection, you will be checking the
condition of your brakes every 6,000 miles (10,000 km).
Let’s recap the inspections you’re going to be performing on your car:
The quick inspections done by yourself:
a) Leak check (oil, antifreeze) – every day
b) tires (visual inspection) – every day
c) Fluid check (belts, hoses, fluids) – every week or every fill-up
The professional inspections done by a technician or mechanic:
a) Leaks, broken power steering or axle boots - at every oil change
b) Brakes, tires - every balancing and rotation of tires
With this schedule, if you are driving about 1,000 miles (1600 km) per month, a check
for leaks under the car will be done every 3 months, and a check of the condition of tires
and brakes will be done every 6 months. Additionally, you will be looking your car over
for flat or under inflated tires and visible leaks under the car at least every other day.
Now let’s take a look into the car’s major systems.