Common Car Maintenance Mistakes You Want to Avoid

Like many people, you likely rely heavily on your car to get around, whether to work and back, to pick up groceries, go on dates and other outings, take the kids to school, or for other reasons.

As a result, your car is probably one of your most valued and necessary possessions and needs to be taken care of well, so it’s reliable for you. You may like to do a lot of vehicle maintenance work yourself. If so, here are some common car maintenance mistakes to avoid in this area.

Common Car Maintenance Mistakes

common car maintenance mistakes
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1. Not Reading the Car Manual

For starters, don’t make the error that so many people do and think you can service your vehicle without reading the manual that came with it first. The manufacturers provide manuals to give buyers and users specific details about dos and don’ts when driving and maintaining cars. If you don’t read this information, you could make a mistake that causes all sorts of short-term or long-term issues and even voids your warranty.

2. Ignoring Warning Signs

Another common mistake is ignoring the warning signs in vehicles. Just because you may have recently completed certain tasks on your car doesn’t mean that if a light of some kind pops up, you shouldn’t pay attention to it. In particular, don’t ignore the Check Engine light that might come on. While your vehicle may seem to be operating just fine, and it’s tempting to think that nothing is the matter, your car could need immediate attention.

Read the manual to see what the light means and the next steps. Hopefully, you may be able to do these, or you may need to have the machine inspected by a mechanic first, just in case. Don’t put off paying attention to this light until you complete the next maintenance job on your list, as it may be too late by then.

Another light you need to focus on is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System or TPMS light. If this comes on, you should check your tire pressure ASAP, as it’s a warning system to inform you that one or more of your vehicle’s tires may be deflated below a safe level. Sometimes, though, this sensor may need replacement, too, so check the air in your tires, and if they’re okay, you may need to order in a new sensor for your car.

3. Using the Wrong Tools or Products

Many of us think we can use the same tools or cleaning or other products on our cars that we do around the house, in our jobs, and the like. However, remember that vehicles typically require the use of specific mechanics’ tools, proper cleaning aids, and other equipment. If you use the wrong things, you can end up damaging your car and having problems with your warranty, too, potentially.

For example, when you go to clean your windshield, you may think it’s fine to use the standard home glass cleaner you use on mirrors and windows in and around your home. However, many of these products contain ammonia, often as the primary ingredient. If you use this on your vehicle, the ammonia can break down the windshield heating elements that assist with defrosting in the winter. It’s safer to purchase automotive glass window cleaner to protect your car from problems like this.

4. Failing to Do Oil Changes Regularly Enough

An oil change is often one of the first tasks people learn to complete on their cars. However, it’s also one that many forget to do often enough. While you likely don’t have to do an oil change every 3,000 miles or so like you had to on older models, most vehicles require them around every 7,000 miles or so today. Put a note in your diary when to check how many miles you’ve done in your vehicle, so you don’t forget, since time goes so quickly and it’s easy for the miles to rack up sooner than we realize.

Our cars need motor oil changed regularly so that they operate correctly and the engine doesn’t seize up. Old oil can be a problem since it can break down and get sludgy, thereby damaging parts, something to avoid at all costs.

Some other car maintenance mistakes to steer clear of are not keeping a close eye on the tire pressure, forgetting to inspect the brakes, failing to clean filters, using the wrong oil, and ignoring the need for new wiper blades. Lastly, you don’t want to be guilty of putting maintenance jobs off in general.

Try to avoid all of these common mistakes, and you should have a better running vehicle long term, and you’ll save yourself money, too.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.