Cars. They are quite the machines. We expect so much of them, and in return we tend to give so little. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not pointing fingers here. I’ve been guilty of some of the same car transgressions I warn against—I have been known to put off the oil change, or coolant leak repair longer than someone who knows better should. Why, I wonder? We start our cars every day, multiple times. They accelerate, decelerate, turn corners, and soften gnarly road surfaces while driving us to work so we can earn our income. They warm us in the winter, cool us in the summer, they help us with our errands and transport our children to sporting events and doctors appointments. Our cars take us to distant loved ones’ houses, whisk us away to much needed vacations, play our favorite music, and most importantly, to the best of their design, protect us from other cars and unforeseen obstacles on the road. They do all of this, with little complaint.
Many readers and customers alike have heard my advice to schedule regular maintenance as recommended by vehicle. I wonder how many of us have waited until the day before a scheduled trip to bring the car into the shop, in desperate need of maintenance—or even worse—repair? I wonder how many vehicles on the road are driving on 20, 30, or even 50k miles without having had an inspection. Multiple times, every day, I hurriedly get in my car, turn the key, and wait for the engine to spin the same number of revolutions it spins every time before starting to run on its own self-prescribed mixture of air and fuel. Once running, I hear all the usual noises, and occasionally some new and unfamiliar noises too (yes, even I hear noises of which I’m not sure). I wonder how many drivers give their cars 30-60 seconds to warm up, and how many just get in, fire it up, and let it rip? How many ignore that unfamiliar noise—hoping it will just go away?
Considering how important our cars are to our daily function, perhaps we ought to pay them a bit more attention.
One of the most extreme examples of inadvertence I can recall is when a customer brought their vehicle in complaining of a noise while braking, and an unresponsive brake pedal. I asked when the noise started, and they said it began just that morning. After raising the vehicle and removing the front tires, we found fragments of what appeared to be, at one point in time, a front brake disc. Most front brake discs are approximately 1” thick, and are usually made of cast iron. They become thin over time, maybe losing a millimeter or two over the life of the brake pad. But this disc was decimated! Gone. I mean, unrecognizable. It’s likely that the noise (that had just started that morning?) was the caliper piston that popped out of the caliper and became stuck in the fan blades of the inner portion of the brake disc remnants (though we couldn’t find it anywhere). Of course, scheduled maintenance could have prevented this. But, even a small task— like taking the time to tune-in to the machine —likely would have alerted this owner to unfamiliar noises much earlier.
The moral of this monologue is simple; care for your car. AAA suggests the average vehicle needs $550-600 worth of maintenance each year. Older cars may need a bit more, but ALL vehicles need maintenance, even new cars. With regular maintenance, at a facility you know and trust, your car will serve you for many years to come—wherever the road takes you.
Ashland Automotive Inc.
280 E Hersey St #15
Ashland, OR 97520