Cars break down for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s a fault of the construction, which will only reveal itself through a factory recall or the wear and tear of years of driving. Other times a repair is simply a natural part of a car’s life cycle. These machines are incredibly advanced, but nothing lasts forever. Yet there are other repairs that happen all the time that you can prevent, or at least prolong the time between them by proactive maintenance and not making stupid mistakes. Here is a look at how you can prevent the five most common car repairs.
One of the repairs that comes up all the time is the need to replace one or more of your engine’s spark plugs. The spark plug is how the fuel flowing into the engine cylinders ignites, therefore causing the combustion that moves the pistons and rockets your car down the road. Spark plugs inevitably wear down over time. But the problem is when you leave it too long. Replacing a spark plug when there are no other problems will only cost you around $10. But that can rise to hundreds of dollars or more if a spark plug fails and melts your catalytic converter. If you notice your gas mileage reducing, take your vehicle in to a professional. Having them handle it properly the first time will save you lots of money and frustration.
Another common repair is the need to replace your vehicle’s oxygen sensor. This is a technical piece that keeps tabs on how much unburned oxygen is in the exhaust. Your vehicle’s computer system uses this to diagnose if there is an improper amount of gas in your tank, either too little or too much. Depending on the car this is a repair you can do yourself. But many new cars are manufactured to include a fancy cover on the oxygen sensor, therefore requiring you to take it in to the dealer. Read your manual so you know where this part is, and hopefully you can save a couple hundred dollars and replace it yourself.
At some point in the life of your car you will run into a failure of the exhaust gas recirculation system. This is another system in newer vehicles that works to reduce the amount of pollutants in your car’s emissions. By its very nature the EGR can fall prey to a buildup of carbon and issues with the electronic control. Depending on your vehicle this repair can cost as much as $700. Make sure you have your fuel system professionally cleaned once every 30,000 miles. That should at least delay the need for this repair.
The catalytic converter can fail for a lot of reasons other than the spark plug. If it begins to rust it can leak or corrode, and it can also suffer from carbon buildup. Since the catalytic converter burns any remaining gas in your exhaust system it’s quite an important part. And replacing it brings a hefty price tag. The only thing you can do is maintain your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance visits, and have the engine tuned up as the manual suggests.
Finally there’s the one that’s the most difficult to diagnose, the engine misfire. This can take place if the spark plugs are faulty, if the wiring to the spark plugs is damaged, if there’s a vacuum leak, a problem with the delivery of fuel to the system or any sort of mechanical breakdown. You’ll notice the check engine light as a sign there is a problem, although this is generally too late. Depending on the cause of the issue, the auto repair could range from one hundred to several thousand dollars. Get your regular maintenance handled, and have the dealership run a trouble code scan once each year to keep tabs on potential issues.