All About Auto Maintenance & Repair

Your automobile’s ownership manual serves as a complete auto repair service guide that includes detailed information from your vehicle manufacturer. It provides you with everything you need to know about maintaining your car, truck, minivan or SUV.

The manual includes information on your vehicle’s preferred fuel and oil type, car maintenance schedule and other tips to keep it in good condition.

However, many motorists fail to reference their vehicle manuals until a serious issue arises, or they may schedule a repair service without referring to it at all. Before contacting a vehicle mechanic, it is important to check your owner’s manual for specific information about the problem you are experiencing, as the issue could be easier to resolve than you realize.

However, if you are unable to fix the problem on your own, an automotive mechanic can repair your vehicle for a fee. Mechanics can perform diagnostic tests and complete other routine services, such as oil changes and timing belt replacements.

The average auto technician charges anywhere from $47 to $215 per hour, depending on several factors. To learn what you can do to reduce repair costs and keep your vehicle in good working condition, review the sections below.

Preventative Car Maintenance

While the recommended car maintenance schedule for your vehicle will depend on its make, model, year and manufacturer, there are several guidelines you can follow as an owner. For instance, a basic car maintenance checklist includes:

  • Monthly services, such as checking your tires and refilling your windshield washer fluid. Once per month, remember to check your headlights, and clean your vehicle’s interior and exterior.
  • Occasional services, such as changing your vehicle’s engine oil and checking your power steering fluid, coolant, automatic transmission fluid and battery. Every three months or 3,000 miles, it is also important to check your radiator hoses and spare tires, replacing them if necessary.
  • Biannual services, such as checking your belts, hoses, engine air filter, wiper blades and chassis lubrication. Every car has a car maintenance schedule by mileage or time. However, the standard schedule to replace an engine air filter is once every 20,000 to 60,000 miles. As for your wiper blades, this is generally done every six to 12 months.
  • Annual services, such as inspecting your vehicle’s braking system, air filter, coolant levels, exhaust, steering and suspension. To keep your vehicle in good working order, it is important to perform these types of inspections once per year or every 12,000 miles.

 There are also less frequent routine car maintenance checks you may need to perform every few years, such as replacing your fuel filter, belts, cables and battery. To keep your engine clean, you typically need to replace your fuel filter once every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.

If you cannot perform a car maintenance service on your own, schedule an appointment at a local auto repair shop or car dealership. However, learning how to inspect your vehicle and perform basic repair services will help you save money in the long run.

How much is car maintenance?

Car maintenance costs vary by service, vehicle type and vehicle age. Your car maintenance costs may also depend on whether or not you purchased any optional dealer extras if you bought your car new. However, the cost of oil and filter changes typically ranges between $20 to $100 per service. On the other hand, tire rotations generally cost between $20 and $50.

As for purchasing replacement parts for your vehicle, new tires cost anywhere between $50 to $300, while replacement wiper blades range between $7 and $15 per blade. Replacement air filters can cost up to $75 whereas new brake pads can cost anywhere from $100 to $350. Other common car maintenance service prices include:

  • $75 to $150 for transmission fluid flushes.
  • $100 to $200 for spark plug replacements.
  • $100 to $300 to replace a vehicle’s front or rear windshield.
  • $500 to replace a vehicle’s radiator.
  • $500 to $950 for the replacement of a serpentine belt.
  • $1,000 to $1,500 to replace a vehicle’s head gasket.
  • $1,500 to $3,000 to replace a transmission.

Auto Air Conditioning Repair Expenses

Performing routine maintenance on your motor vehicle is generally inexpensive, especially if you know how to perform basic services on your own. However, other repairs and replacements can be more costly, especially if you need to fix your vehicle’s air conditioning system after it breaks or leaks.

Automotive AC repair and diagnostic costs may cost as little as $100 or they may exceed $1,000. It all depends on the cause of the issue, the auto shop’s rate and the vehicle itself. Shopping around and obtaining estimates from multiple technicians can help you find the best deals and save you money on these costly repairs.

Moreover, several professional vehicle AC repair services are available if your automobile’s air conditioning system needs recharging or stops working during the heat of the summer months. For instance, you may need a car AC service due to the following:

  • Issues with the vehicle’s electrical system
  • Defective cooling fans that must be replaced
  • Refrigerant leaks that must be sealed
  • Blockages within the vehicle’s AC unit condenser that must be removed
  • A broken AC unit condenser that needs to be replaced

While you may feel tempted to perform an automotive air conditioning repair service on your own, doing so could damage your vehicle or lead to a costlier repair in the future. Therefore, any auto AC service should be performed by a professional technician or mechanic. He or she will have the tools and knowledge needed to address the issue safely and effectively.

When to Contact an Automotive Technician

Hiring an auto mechanic to repair or inspect your vehicle is not always necessary, but may be ideal depending on the issue. For instance, it is best to bring your vehicle into an auto repair shop if it needs a transmission fluid change, as this procedure is more complicated than it sounds.

If you attempt to change your vehicle’s transmission fluid on your own, you could damage the automobile and spend more on repairs in the long run.

Moreover, other services may require the help of a vehicle mechanic, especially if you do not have a whole lot of experience under your belt. For instance, tasks such as replacing a cylinder head gasket or timing belt are best performed by a professional technician.

When thinking about hiring a mechanic, it is a good idea to check whether or not your auto warranty covers the necessary repairs, since this could potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.