Costly Car Mistakes, Don't Ignore Warning Signs

November 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
With money so tight, you may be ignoring that strange noise under your hood. But that could be a big mistake.Domenic Disiena has seen a lot of car repairs that could have been avoided in his 35 years working as a mechanic. In video above he uses a Volkswagen Beetle as an example.

"The young lady was driving the car with a check-engine light on for approximately a week. Now if she would have had the check engine-light diagnosed it would have told her, its coolant," said Disiena.

Instead the car overheated, the motor blew, and it'll cost three to four thousand dollars to replace it!

Consumer Reports has spoken to automotive mechanics across the country who've told equally scary and costly stories.

Consumer Reports Jon Linkov said, "Routine maintenance and early fixes when something starts to go wrong can save you plenty."

Exhibit A: A transmission rebuild. That can cost you about three-thousand dollars!

"If your transmission fluid is too low, it's probably because of a leak. If you do have to add fluid, don't overfill. That'll make it worse," said Linkov.

Exhibit B: An engine replacement - a three- to six-thousand-dollar job!

Linkov said, "To prevent this, check your oil level once per month. And remember to change your oil and the timing belt according to the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual."

Exhibit C: A new catalytic converter that can cost 900 dollars.

"A catalytic converter can become overtaxed if your engine isn't tuned and starts to malfunction. So don't ignore that 'check engine' light when it comes on, and make sure you get regular tune-ups," said Linkov.

You can refer to your owner's manual to see when you should take your car in for maintenance, everything from oil changes and tire rotations to tune-ups. And it can help to put reminders on your calendar to schedule an appointment at your garage.

Bottom line - catching car trouble early will spare you expensive repair bills down the road.

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