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The Nitty Gritty

Regular Car Maintenance Pays Off

Like going to the dentist or getting your yearly physical exam, keeping up with your car’s maintenance is a chore you probably don’t look forward to. It takes time out of your day and usually requires you to dip into your wallet. However, just as you wouldn’t put off your personal health, you shouldn’t delay getting a tune-up that will keep your car healthy.

Regular car maintenance keeps your automobile in tip-top shape, makes it safer and more reliable, and helps its resale value when it’s time to trade it in or sell it. Spending a few dollars now can actually save you a bundle later by helping you avoid a catastrophic problem.

Here’s what you should consider essential car maintenance, based on suggestions from Ardent Credit Union’s Auto Buying Concierges Steve Roberts and Pete Kuryluk, as well as automotive industry experts.

Change Your Engine Oil

Why It’s Important
“Your car’s engine has a lot of moving parts that create friction and get hot,” says Steve. “Your engine oil helps to reduce the friction and also absorbs some of the heat your engine generates.”

Over time, oil breaks down and is less effective at doing its job. Delaying an oil change can cause serious damage to the engine parts and may also void your warranty.

When to Get It Done
The old adage, “every three months or 3,000 miles,” doesn’t necessarily apply in today’s modern cars, which can sometimes go 5,000, 7,500, or even 10,0000 miles between oil changes. Always follow the advice from your manufacturer or owner’s manual.

Replace Your Timing Belt

Why It’s Important
Your timing belt is like an orchestra conductor for your car, keeping all the critical engine functions working and firing at the right time.

“The repair may seem expensive at the time but pay attention to your mechanic if they say your timing belt needs to be replaced,” says Pete. “If it goes, your motor will soon follow, which is a much more expensive repair.”

When to Get It Done
You should start to pay attention to potential problems with your timing belt around 60,000 miles, or when your mechanic recommends it.

Replace Your Filters

Why It’s Important
Your car has air, fuel and cabin filters. The air filter keeps harmful debris out of your engine, the fuel filter keeps contaminants out of your fuel line, and cabin filter blocks dust, pollen and mold from entering your car through the air conditioning and heat.

When to Get It Done
“You should have your filters checked and replaced every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first,” says Steve.

Rotate Your Tires

Why It’s Important
“Most modern cars are front-wheel drive, and the tires in the front wear more quickly than those in the back,” says Joe Saxon, Service Manager at Conicelli Honda. “If you don’t rotate them regularly, you’ll cut your tire life nearly in half.”

When to Get It Done
Check your owner’s manual. Typically, tires should be rotated every 6 months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

Change Your Transmission Fluid

Why It’s Important
Like engine oil, transmission fluid is another essential lubricant in your car. It protects and keeps your automatic transmission and power steering working optimally. It doesn’t break down as quickly as engine oil, but still needs to be replaced.

“Skipping the scheduled transmission fluid change can damage your transmission, which controls your car’s ability to shift from one gear to the next,” says Pete. “It will usually also void your manufacturer’s warranty.”

When to Get It Done
The good news is that your transmission fluid doesn’t need to be changed as often as your oil. Some transmission fluids are designed to last for 30,000 miles, while others are designed for up to 100,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual.


Car owners should always remember that the benefits of taking good care of your car outweigh the extra cost and effort.

As former sales managers at area dealerships, Steve and Pete are a wealth of great car knowledge on everything from recommended maintenance to a credit union car loan. Tap into their expertise by utilizing Ardent’s free Auto Buying Concierge service when you are ready to buy your next vehicle.

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