Most of the time when you discover that your car needs some major repair work done, it comes as a shock. “It was running just fine,” you might say as your mechanic returns to tell you that you’re looking at some serious engine work in order to keep your vehicle running. It’s at this point where most people need to make a big decision on the spot. Is it worth getting the engine fixed or would it make sense to just buy a new vehicle? Neither is cheap and it’s a matter of which would hurt less financially. Needless to say, it’s not a great feeling and can seriously alter whatever plans you had for the year.
The thing about expensive auto repair, though, is that it’s often avoidable. While it’s true that vehicle ownership means laying out money for upkeep over time, you can lay out less money if you keep up with your regular maintenance. Does it take up precious time you’d rather spend doing something else? Sure, of course. Does it feel good to pay for that maintenance? No, not really. But, if it means avoiding hearing “You need a new engine if you want to keep this car,” then it’s worth spending that time and money on that maintenance.
It’s at this point you may be wondering “Is it really that big a savings to get all these smaller fixes done every few months or years?” That’s certainly a fair question. People are always skeptical when it’s suggested to them to spend money on things. Let’s look at the typical cost of fixing or replacing the vehicle’s engine, then.
Rebuilding the Engine
Typically speaking, getting a rebuilt engine put in your vehicle can run anywhere from around $2,500 to $5,000. Considering that range is essentially a doubling from least expensive to most expensive, it stands to reason that the type of vehicle you drive will dictate just how expensive a new engine will be. A lot of factors can go into the pricing, including labor costs, so it’s hard to give a firm answer on how much rebuilding your engine will ultimately cost you, but that range is a good place to start. On its face, a rebuilt engine typically costs about 10%-20% of the value of a new vehicle. This is where you need to start asking yourself questions.
Is it worth just using that 20% and making a down payment on a new vehicle? Is it better to just buy a used car to replace it? How much more time with your current vehicle will this rebuilt engine get you? It can be a lot to process. So, why not do what you can to avoid even being faced with this dilemma? While there are no guarantees in life, unfortunately, you can certainly take some steps to hold off engine trouble for as long as possible. Barring some really bad luck, an engine that is well taken care of will undoubtedly last far longer than one that is ignored.
What kind of maintenance should you be mindful of in order to keep your vehicle running for longer? Here are some of the big ones that you’ll want to stay on top of with some regularity.
Changing the Oil
You probably knew this would be on this list, but it’s always recommended for a reason. Changing your oil is the most important routine maintenance you can get done. Motor oil provides the lubrication required to keep your engine running without overheating. Too little oil or dirty oil with pollutants and dirt in it is a surefire way to cause damage to your engine.
We’ve established keeping the engine from overheating is critical, but it’s not just a job for your oil. The radiator, thermostat, water pump, and coolant are all necessary to make sure the engine runs well. All of these components at one time or another may require service, but the one most likely to require semi-regular attention is making sure you have enough coolant in the system.
While not alive, your engine still needs to breathe (so to speak). What allows your engine to do that is a clean and clear air filter. Your vehicle needs a constant flow of air to function properly. When your filter becomes old and dirty, it can clog up with the material it’s designed to keep out. When that happens, the air can’t properly circulate which can eventually lead to engine problems.
Something needs to transport these fluids through the engine. That’s where hoses come in. While nothing fancy, they do an important job. Rubber hoses will eventually wear down and crack due to constant exposure to intense heat, which can cause oil and antifreeze to leak out. This can damage the engine either by having fluids leak where they shouldn’t be or by cutting off the supply to the engine. Either way, don’t be surprised if you need to replace a hose every so often.
Your fuel filter has the important job of keeping sediment and dirt out of your gas so it doesn’t clog up your engine. Much like an air filter, if you keep it around too long it gets clogged up itself and can’t do its job. Circulating debris through your engine is bad for it, so change your fuel filter. Also, don’t drive your vehicle on E too often. When gas levels are low, it can have a tendency to get dirty.
You won’t have to worry about your belts too often, honestly. However, when they do break, it’s game over. Your engine can’t run if a belt breaks and that can be a bad situation. You may want your belts checked on occasion to check for signs of cracks to get out ahead of this troublesome repair.
You only need to change your spark plugs every 30,000 miles or so, but it’s important that you do. Old worn out spark plugs can cause the engine to run less efficiently and taxes it more than it needs to be.
What Indicates Trouble?
It should come as no surprise that the “check engine” light on your dashboard is the biggest indicator that something needs to be looked at by your mechanic. But, you can’t always go by the vehicle’s computer, even though it’s usually pretty good at alerting you to things that require your attention. Sounds are a big giveaway. If you start hearing new and unusual sounds after turning your key in the ignition, it could be your engine. The same thing applies to your vehicle suddenly handling differently, like if it seems sluggish and more difficult to get up to speed. While these are vague, it could be one of a number of issues that need to be checked out regardless if it is the engine or not.
Engine repairs are costly. There is no way around that. You can help prevent the need for them though by keeping up with your maintenance. If you suspect your vehicle is suffering from an issue, your check engine light is on, or you know that it’s time for some routine maintenance to prevent engine failure, bring it on in. Contact us today to set up a time to come by. The team at Independent Motors is highly experienced and dedicated to providing you professional repair services at an honest and fair price. Don’t wait until you need to get towed. Take care of your engine.