Are Preventative Maintenance Inspections Worth It?

Is your car in good shape? Have you noticed any issues lately? Although you may take good care of your vehicle, it is still a good idea to get your car inspected regularly. Most consider it to be one of the most important parts of owning a vehicle. Many states require regular vehicle inspections, although they may not require preventative maintenance inspections.

Why Get a Preventative Maintenance Inspection?

Still, getting these inspections is in your best interest. Let’s look at the most important reasons to get these types of inspections.

When you undergo preventative maintenance inspections, you can be sure your vehicle is running smoothly. If you want to have a vehicle that you can rely on and that is going to start and stop the way it should, you need to maintain it properly. Part of that is getting inspections.

Having preventative maintenance inspections and making repairs as needed will help to ensure your safety and the safety of others who are on the road with you. If your vehicle isn’t in good shape, it could present a danger while you are on the road. It might mean your brakes aren’t working and you can’t stop, or that your wipers can’t properly clear away your windshield when it’s snowing. If your car is not running optimally, it has the potential to be dangerous.

Additionally, if you don’t take good care of your vehicle, it tends to be more expensive to repair later. By taking care of problems before they get larger, and by doing preventative maintenance, it reduces damage and wear and tear on your car. Ultimately, it can mean fewer major expenses for you.

Getting these inspections and making small repairs now is an added cost, but most people feel that the inspections are well worth it. After all, they provide some fantastic benefits.

What Is Covered in a Preventative Maintenance Inspection?

The goal of a preventative maintenance inspection is to ensure that the vehicle continues to operate efficiently for as long as possible. Inspections can help to locate potential issues with the vehicle. Finding those issues and taking care of them now, will often reduce the risk of catastrophic failure.

What does a preventative maintenance inspection include? A typical preventative maintenance inspection doesn’t just look at the systems. It also provides repairs and changes as needed. It will vary from one auto shop to the next, of course, but certain elements tend to be standard across the board.

Let’s look at some of the typical parts included in these inspections.

Oil and Oil Filter Changes

To keep your engine operating properly, you need to make sure that you have regular oil and filter changes. The motor oil is essential for lubricating the engine, and it helps to keep the car or truck from overheating. If you don’t change the oil, it is going to become thick and dirty, which means your engine will no longer be operating optimally.

Having the oil checked and changed when needed, along with oil filters, allows the oil to continue doing its job. Typically, you will want to get an oil change and filter change every three months, although this can vary depending on how often you drive the vehicle.

Changing Filters

Other filters aside from the oil filter will need to be changed out, as well, and this will often happen during a preventative maintenance inspection. Other than the oil filter, mentioned above, you will want to have the air filter changed.

The air filter is responsible for removing dust and debris from the air before it goes into the engine. This should be replaced every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.

The cabin air filter in your car should be replaced, as well. This filter is responsible for cleaning the air before it goes through the air conditioner, so you don’t have dust coming into the vehicle’s cabin. Typically, you want to replace the cabin air filter about once a year.

The vehicle’s fuel filter is meant to keep contaminants from clogging your fuel lines. This should be replaced every 20,000 to 40,000, miles. You may want to have it replaced at the same time as the other filters, so you can get it all done at once.

Coolant and Transmission Fluid Checks

You do not need to change out the fluids in your vehicle as often as the filters, but they will occasionally need to be replaced.

During a preventative maintenance inspection, though, the mechanic might change out your fluids if it’s necessary.

The coolant system is important to help ensure your engine is less likely to overheat. The mechanics can inspect the system to ensure it is in good working order, and they can replace the coolant. A coolant system flush can also help to reduce the risk of rust, lubricate the water pump, and help to ensure there aren’t any freezing issues in cold weather.

Typically, you only need to have a coolant replacement every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. However, some manufacturers recommend that it happens every 30,000 to 50,000 miles in severe conditions.

The transmission system may also need to have fluids changed. The transmission fluid is important for many different functions, and it helps to ensure a smooth performance for your engine. The fluid can help with cooling, lubrication, gear changes, and more. Different vehicles will have different service intervals. Typically, though, the system should be flushed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

Air Conditioning and Heating

The air conditioning system in your vehicle helps to keep you comfortable when you are driving in hot weather, and the heater keeps you warm when it’s cold out. Although the system should work well for years, it’s generally a good idea to have it inspected and serviced at least once per year. You can have it done at the start of summer, or the start of winter for your heating system. When it is working properly, you will find that your vehicle stays more comfortable. It could also help with gas mileage.

Battery Inspection

Lots of people have had to deal with dead batteries at least once in their lives, and it’s never fun. No one wants to be stranded, even if they are at home. With proper battery care, it should last for several years without worry. During an inspection, the mechanic will test the battery to ensure it is in good working order. They will also likely clean the battery terminals. You could also do this, as it’s easy to do on your own.

Keep in mind that even though batteries today are lasting longer and longer, they will eventually need to be replaced. If you’ve had the batter for three years or longer, have it tested and replace it if needed. It’s better to have a fresh battery and peace of mind rather than a dead battery and regret.

Fuel System

The fuel system is composed of several different parts, all of which tend to have differing wear and tear times, meaning that they will need to be replaced at different intervals. Having a preventative maintenance inspection can help you to better understand what needs to be fixed or replaced and when.

Mechanics can check out the hoses, fuel injectors, and fuel lines to look for issues and replace them if needed. These can be checked every year or so, just like the fuel filter discussed earlier. The fuel pump will usually last for 100,000 miles or so, and the fuel tank can last for 10 years or more.

Still, different vehicles may wear down faster. You will want to have yours inspected to see whether anything needs to be replaced.

Brakes

The brake system—pads, rotors, calipers, etc.—need to be checked about every year or whenever an issue is noticed. The brakes are one of the most important systems in your vehicle. Never ignore problems with the brakes, no matter how small they might seem. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry.

When it comes to the brake fluid, you generally only need to have it changed every 30,000 miles.

Wipers

This is something that you might not realize could be a problem since you probably don’t use the wipers every day. However, when you do need them, you can’t get by without them. Have mechanics check the wipers to ensure they are working properly and have the wiper blades removed. Some shops will replace the wiper blades when you get your oil changed. You could also replace them on your own.

Tires and Wheels

Your tires are highly important for your safety when you are out on the road. Therefore, they need to be cared for properly. People don’t’ often think about their tires unless there is a major problem, such as a flat. The tires do a lot of work, though, and they need to be kept in shape. One of the ways to do this is by rotating the tires every six months. This will help to keep the wear and tear even, so the tires end up lasting longer.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should keep the same tires on for too long. You need to be sure they still have plenty of tread and that it is safe to drive with them.

You also need to make sure your wheels are balanced and aligned properly. Having your wheels balanced every six months can help to ensure that the weight is equally distributed on the axle, providing you with a smoother right. The alignment will ensure that the tires are parallel, so your vehicle goes straight rather than veering to one side.

With the balance and alignment, having them on a six-month schedule is usually a good idea. This could be done at the same time the tires are rotated.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs last a good long time, but they don’t last forever. This is one of the other things that people often forget about. Over time, they can start to wear down because of things like temperature extremes, contaminants, and just normal wear and tear. Typically, you will want to change out the spark plugs every 30,000 miles or so. It’s relatively easy to do this on your own, but you could just as easily have the mechanics do it during some other preventative maintenance.

Check the Cables and Belts

The cables and belts throughout your vehicle can last for years without worry. However, they may eventually start to wear down and need to be replaced. This could be from natural wear and tear due to the weather, from damage caused by overheating, or it could even be caused by pests that chew them. Therefore, you should have the cables and belts in the car checked during your inspection. The mechanics can find any potential issues and let you know about them, so you can have them replaced.

Safety Features

You also want to check on all of the safety features of your vehicle. This includes things like the airbags and the seatbelts, along with all of the advanced driver-assistance systems that are in the car. These should be checked about once a year, or whenever you feel that there could be an issue. After all, these safety features are what help to keep you and your loved ones safe when you are on the road.

Find a Mechanic for Your Inspection

These are some of the most important elements of the vehicle that will often be covered in inspections. Of course, different types of preventative maintenance inspections from different mechanics can vary. Talk with the mechanic you are considering and see what is and isn’t covered. If there are any other areas that you need to have covered, make sure they can address those things. Even though some of the things above can be done yourself, you might want to have a mechanic double-check the systems just to be sure.

Resources:

https://highwayandheavyparts.com/n-10160-preventive-maintenance-inspection-pmi-do-it-properly-to-increase-profits.html#:~:text=Among%20other%20things%2C%20PMI%20can,you%20spot%20these%20earlier%20on.

https://www.firestonecompleteautocare.com/blog/maintenance/car-getting-preventative-maintenance-it-needs/

https://www.borstautomotive.com/are-car-inspections-worth-it-a-guide-to-proper-vehicle-care/ 

Written by Strut Daddy's

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