How Much Money Does a Major Repair Cost?

Posted on March 1, 2001 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

You know the familiar routine — your sedan starts making a little noise here, a ping there, and you take it in for a checkup. Before you know it, you’re slapped with a repair bill that has your head spinning. With routine, preventive maintenance, it’s possible to avoid unpleasant surprises from your mechanic and get more mileage from your vehicle.

Whether your vehicle is still under warranty, or you’ve purchased an additional service contract, know that a lack of maintenance could void either of these agreements.

It’s All in the Details
Vince Strang, service coordinator for Don Kott Lincoln-Mercury in Torrance, Calif., sees firsthand the results of improper vehicle maintenance. “What we see is somebody who doesn’t do a transmission service because they think they can go 100,000 miles and the transmission fails after 50,000 miles,” Strang says. “They complain that it’s the product, whereas you get somebody that changes their transmission fluid and services the transmission every 30,000 miles, and the transmission lasts through the life of the vehicle.” At Don Kott the transmission is disassembled to evaluate if it’s worth overhauling or if the customer should go with a replacement. “If it’s going to exceed the cost of a replacement, we might as well put a whole unit in,” Strang says. He adds that with a regular maintenance schedule your transmission can last the life of the vehicle.

Stay on Schedule
For the best fuel economy, mileage per gallon, and to get the maximum life out of your vehicle, follow a regular maintenance schedule. This means regularly changing the oil, air filter and fuel filter. “The oil needs to be changed every 3,000 miles,” says Anthony Bulzomi, service manager for Westwood Lincoln-Mercury/Limousine Sales of Westwood in Emerson, N.J. “Change the air filter every 1,500 miles and the fuel filter every 3,000 miles,” Bulzomi says, citing Ford’s recommendation for severe service. The transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000 miles, including the torque converter. “There’s an additional seven quarts of fluid in the torque converter,” Bulzomi says. “A lot of guys will go to a mickey mouse tranny shop and have their fluid changed, but they won’t change the fluid in the torque converter.”

Strang agrees. “Once an air filter gets contaminated enough, the particles will start going through it and that’s what you don’t want, because then it can cause internal damage to the engine,” Strang says. The same applies to fuel filters, where eventually you’ll have a starvation of fuel and the engine isn’t going to run correctly. Strang explains that the vehicular computer system and specifications are built off programs on a car with completely clean filters and clean elements.

“When you have a fuel filter or air filter that’s plugged, it’s getting less fuel or air through the system, and now the sensors are picking up maybe a rich or lean condition on an engine, and it’s not going to run right,” Strang explains. Even something as simple as regularly changing your oil will make a big difference to the performance of your vehicle. If you frequently change your oil, you might get 200,000 miles out of an engine instead of 100,000. The oil is cleaner, and that means less contaminants and therefore less wear on the engine.
The manufacturer’s suggestion is to change the oil every....

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