What Should I Do?

FAQ | Pella Car Care

“What should I do? I just brought my car in for an oil change and now I’m told that my car needs several other things. How am I supposed to know if I really need these repairs and additional maintenance?”

Questions like this are frequently asked after vehicle service. Much like a medical doctor during a routine physical, the automotive technician calling attention to a condition that can put you at risk, is doing what he is supposed to do. So while it’s good to be a conscientious consumer, when it comes to your safety on the road, a trustworthy inspection of your vehicle by a professional technician is best.

To know the importance of recommendations made, you may want to personally inspect the car with your Service Advisor. Other options may be looking at digital pictures of needed repairs or consulting your vehicle’s owners manual about maintenance. And of course your Service Advisor can explain the benefits of any needed work so that you can make decisions that are right for you.

At Pella Car Care we believe it is our professional obligation to inspect vehicles carefully. We can then inform and educate our customers about any repair and maintenance needs, with the ultimate goal being many miles of worry free driving. We are here to help you save money on the overall cost of vehicle ownership with the most convenient and hassle-free service.

How to Get Over 200,000 Miles Out of Your Vehicle

  • Buy a safe, reliable car. Pick a car with a good track record and then have a pre-purchase inspection done by an independent automotive shop. Many times a pre-purchase inspection can help avoid a poor choice or at least offer an estimate of repairs and maintenance needed in the near future. There are no perfect used cars on the dealer’s lots and the cost of an inspection is easily recovered by using the results to negotiate a price.
  • Make repairs promptly. The most important thing in keeping a vehicle performing properly is to make necessary repairs promptly. Postponing needed repairs often costs more. For example, ignoring a fluid leak can lead to a low fluid level causing premature wear on expensive mechanical components or preventable breakdowns.
  • Do regular inspections. Problems can arise at any time and for inexplicable reasons. Whether you do it yourself or rely on your repair shop, exterior, under hood and under vehicle visual inspections can prevent roadside emergencies
  • Follow your maintenance schedule. The vehicle owner’s manual is your first source for maintenance information. Recommended fluid changes, inspections and part replacements such as sparkplugs and timing belts can be found there. Wide variations in mileage intervals are often found so good judgement should be used to determine what intervals are best for your driving habits.
  • Keep it clean. Get out the cleaning products periodically or have your vehicle professionally detailed. Regular cleaning inside and out can make the car a more pleasant place to be as you roll up the miles. Washing and waxing can help preserve the paint and keep the sheet metal from rusting. Vacuuming sand and dirt out of the carpet and seats can minimize wear that leads tears and holes.

The recommendations above come from a combination of sources including our real world experience at Pella Car Care. We see vehicles over 200,000 miles every day in our shop. The results of proper care and/or neglect become apparent. We believe it is our professional responsibility to inspect vehicles carefully, keep records of all your vehicle maintenance and repair needs, and keep you informed. Our mission is to help you save money on the cost of vehicle ownership by performing the best maintenance and repairs possible with the most convenient and hassle-free service.

Keep Your Car or Buy a New One?

Let’s divide the car-buying world into two groups; those who keep a car until it dies, and those who buy a new car every few years.

To the first, a round of applause. There’s nothing short of riding a bike that’s cheaper than keeping a car until it crumbles into a pile of rust. Almost any car can be driven safely to 200,000 miles or more.

To the second, thank-you, because the millions of new cars they buy every year instantly become used cars, soon available at a considerable discount to those in group one. New cars are nice but usually don’t make sense financially.

Several independent studies have shown the financial benefits of keeping your car longer. The following table from Runzheimer International, a management consulting firm, compares keeping a 4-year old car another 4 years versus buying a new one, showing savings of $10,894!

New vs. Used Vehicle Costs 4-Year Total 4-Year Total
  Old New
Car Payment Principal $0 $14,501
Interest on Loan $0 $2,167
Fuel Cost $7,764 $6,936
License, Registration, Tax $696 $796
Insurance $4,192 $4,634
Maintenance $3,896 $3,224
Total Expenses $16,548 $32,258
Minus Resale Value $3,759 $8,575
Total Costs $12,789 $23,683
Difference +$10,894  

This table from Consumer Reports compares keeping a Honda Civic for 15 years versus a new Honda Civic every 5 years. Savings of $20,500!

Total Price of New Vehicle(s) $19,000 $66,400
Depreciation $14,900 $35,500
Maintenance & Repairs $18,300 $6,200
Financing & Interest $3,100 $8,500
Fees & Taxes $2,200 $4,800
Insurance $18,500 $22,500
Total Costs $57,000 $77,500
Difference +$20,500  

So if those repair bills seem to be adding up, do the math. Does the cost of repairs exceed the cost of a new car? A typical new car is $21,000, about $350 a month for 5 years after 20% down. A major engine repair might run $1,500, a huge outlay in one chunk, but far less than the $4,200 a year you would spend on new-car payments alone. If you can’t afford repairs twice a year, it’s unlikely you can afford a new car payment every month. In any case, anyone with a car older than three years old should be saving $100 a month for repairs and maintenance. With a little luck, you’ll never use most of it and you’ll have a tidy sum to spend on your next car.

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