11 Car Maintenance Tips That Can Prevent Major Repair Costs

January 23rd, 2023 by

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Reading through your vehicle’s owner manual probably isn’t the most exciting item on your to-do list. But understanding your car’s maintenance needs and paying routine attention to them is incredibly important – both for your safety and for your wallet. 

It’s important to note that skimping on routine service appointments is not an effective way to budget your money: Staying on top of basic car maintenance is far less expensive than paying for major repairs. Regularly taking care of your vehicle will not only extend the life of your car, but it will also help you fend off bigger – and far more expensive – problems down the road. Fortunately, taking steps to prevent costly repairs is simple. 

Check out these 11 basic car maintenance tips from our Marino service technicians to help keep your hard-earned dollars in your wallet.  

Change the Oil

Skipping oil changes is a big mistake for your budget. In fact, problems with your car’s oil can become some of the costliest car maintenance issues to fix, since oil affects nearly every component of your car’s performance. Changing the oil in your car lowers the risk of wearing out your engine – which is guaranteed to cost a lot more than an oil change. 

  • Marino maintenance tip: Change the oil every 5,000 miles or follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in your owner manual. Schedule your next oil change from the comfort of your couch with our Online Service Scheduler

Check the Spare Tire

If your car has a backup tire, keeping it inflated is just as important as it is to keep the four tires under your car inflated. The last thing you want is to discover while you’re pulling the jack out of your trunk on the side of the road is that your spare is flat: Spending a dollar at the air pump every few months to inflate your spare tire is better than the alternative of spend hundreds on a tow truck in your time of need.

  • Marino maintenance tip: Test the air pressure in all four tires and your spare tire once a month.

Replace the Brake Pads

Do you hear squeaking when you hit the brakes? If so, your brake pads could be on their last legs. If you don’t replace worn brake pads, they’re unable to absorb friction, causing small chips and dents to form in the rotors. How frequently you change your brake pads will depend on the make and model of your vehicle, how aggressively you drive, and how hard and often you brake.   

  • Marino maintenance tip: Check your car’s brake fluid every time you change the oil. Is it dark in color? If so, you’ll need to change the brake system sooner rather than later. Schedule an appointment with our Online Service Scheduler

Check the Alternator

A spinning alternator keeps your car’s battery working. It spins on a belt that runs from the pulley on the alternator to the crankshaft. If your car’s belt, or alternator, is not working properly, your battery will die quickly or stop working altogether. A battery light on your dashboard could be signaling an issue with your alternator. If your battery is new and in good working condition, or if you hear squealing, ask your service technicians to check your alternator and alternator belt. 

  • Marino maintenance tip: Other signs of a faulty alternator to look out for include dimming lights, lights that don’t shut off completely, an engine that is difficult to start, or an engine that requires more than one try to start.

Replace Your Air Filter

Your vehicle’s air filter keeps pollutants from entering through the vents. This is an important job, so be sure to treat your air filter well. Keeping an old air filter around past its life can lead to major problems for your air conditioning system down the road. 

  • Marino maintenance tip: Change your car’s air filter every 12 months or 12,000 miles.

Understand the Expected Lifespan of Your Battery

Be proactive in understanding the expected lifespan of your car’s battery: You may be facing a costly repair if you wait until the battery is dead. A car with a dead battery cannot run and will require towing. If your battery dies over the weekend? You may not only lose the use of your vehicle, you could also incur rental car fees while you wait for repairs. 

  • Marino maintenance tip: Test your battery twice a year and inspect it for corrosion.

Get Your Tires Rotated

You can easily extend the life of your tires simply by rotating them every so often. Regularly rotating your tires not only allows them to wear evenly, it also protects your car’s suspension. 

  • Maintenance tip: Keep an eye out for uneven wear on the tread of your tires. If you notice that certain tires are wearing faster than others, talk with your service technician about getting your vehicle aligned. If you’re unsure of how to measure tread on your tires, our service team is happy to help.

Check the Coolant

Neglecting to change your coolant can lead to serious corrosion inside your vehicle. Your car’s radiator and engine coolant are the most important defenses against overheating, which can ruin cylinders, warp parts, and cause the engine to stop working. 

  • Marino maintenance tip: It’s a good idea to check the coolant twice a year—once before the warm weather hits and again before the cold weather does. You should also regularly check your levels of coolant, which can be done with a quick and easy visual check. 

Inspect Your Belts and Hoses

Worn-down belts can cause serious damage to essential parts of your car, and a weak radiator hose can cause your engine to overheat and not run at all. Because there are generally no “indicators” of a worn belt, they often snap unexpectedly, leaving you stranded with a hefty repair bill. Snapped timing belts can also result in damage to other parts of the engine.

  • Marino maintenance tip: Most timing belts should be replaced every 100,000 miles, but recommendations vary by the make and model. 


Check the Suspension System (Shocks, Springs, and Struts) 

Shock absorbers smooth out bumps and vibrations during your ride and help control the movement of your car’s springs and suspension. They also help your tires stay in contact with the road’s surface, allowing you to steer and brake safely. Struts are also essential for safe steering and braking and provide the structural support for the suspension. 

  • Marino maintenance tip: Check the shocks and full suspension system every 15,000–30,000 miles. As a rule of thumb, shocks and struts should be replaced every 50,000 miles, but this will vary based on how you drive, the types of surfaces you drive on, and your car’s make and model.

Becoming familiar with your car’s needs and taking responsibility for its maintenance will pay off (literally) down the road. Although there are several preventative steps that you can take on your own, it’s also important and helpful to create a lasting relationship with a trusted service team that can help you spot potential issues early on. 

Our certified service team is not only highly trained in addressing every issue affecting your vehicle, but we also take pride in providing friendly, honest, and exceptional customer service. 

Give us a call at 773-794-7811 or schedule a service visit with our Online Service Scheduler!

Posted in Automotive