The Car Book Blog: Maintenance

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

With the release of the 39th edition of The Car Booknow available online—we’re sharing some of our best tips for car buying and maintaining your vehicle after you buy. The Car Book 2019 provides today’s car buyer with in-depth ratings of the 2019 vehicles, The Car Book’s unique crash test ratings, comparative complaint ratings, and all of the information needed to make a smart, safe and informed vehicle purchase. For online users only, the site also includes over 1,000 used car ratings going back five years.

In each edition of The Car Book Blog, we’ll give you key advice on how to buy for safety. If you’re more interested in the safety of yourself and your family than moon roofs or cupholders, these posts are for you.

You’re at the dealership and you’ve found the perfect car in your price range. So you’re done, right?

Not quite. 

Maintenance for a car can run into the thousands of dollars. Before you put money down for a car, you should always look into how much you’ll be on the hook for down the line. That’s why the Center for Auto Safety wants to make it easy for you! Check out this blog post and learn more about maintenance costs.

1) Preventative Maintenance:

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Preventative maintenance includes periodic servicing specified by the manufacturer to keep your car running properly, like oil changes. Every owner’s manual specifies a schedule of recommended servicing for at least the first 60,000 miles, and many now go to 100,000 miles. However, some dealerships suggest a more frequent–and expensive–schedule than manufacturers. Make sure you double-check before signing on.

2) Repair Costs: 

Car, Mechanic, Automobile, Mechanical, Auto Repair Shop

Most cars will require repairs by 100,000 miles, and these nine are particularly common:

  • front brake pads
  • starter
  • fuel injector
  • pump fuel
  • struts/shocks
  • timing belt/chain
  • water pump
  • muffler
  • headlamps

Did you know you can look into the repair costs for each of these issues by car model before you make a purchase? Check out the “flat-rate manual” in your local dealership to find out how much you’ll have to pay down the line. You can also find a table with this information in the paper editions of The Car Book.

3) Electric Vehicles 

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Fun fact: EVs don’t have many of the parts most likely to need repairs! For this reason, they tend to be cheaper to maintain.




4) Service Contracts

The Center does NOT recommend purchasing a service contract. They are generally the most expensive maintenance option.

  • If your service provider goes out of business, you may be left out in the cold in case of an accident.
  • If you sell your car while under contract you may be assessed a hefty fee.
  • Some car parts may not be covered, and service contracts last for varying amounts of time. Make sure you double-check your coverage!
  • Make sure you can reach your service company easily, and clarify whether or not they pay repair bills directly.
  • Find out what your deductible rates are and where you can take your car to be serviced.
  • Make sure you do what you need to to uphold your contract (scheduled maintenance, ect). Keep receipts.

Overall, service contracts aren’t generally worth the money or the hassle. Another option is to deposit the money you’d spend on one in a savings account that you can tap into later for repairs.

If you haven’t already, be sure to join the Center for Auto Safety to get a full year’s access to Come back to The Car Book Blog soon for even more insightful car buying information.

PLUS: Our partners at the Safe Climate Campaign advocate for strong, green measures that improve fuel efficiency and save you money at the gas pump. Be sure to check out their latest work here.

Read More from The Car Book Blog.