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Maintenance: How to Make Your German Car Last

Virtually every day clients tell us they are planning on holding onto their cars longer they used to. In many instances, given today’s economy, this is a wise decision. After all, German vehicles are made to last. Take care of your car and odds are your auto will endure 125,000 or even 150,000 miles without the need for major repairs on your engine or transmission. Just follow these simple recommendations and you should get more miles out of your vehicle with fewer worries and headaches.

Maintenance

Your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule exists for a reason. At the very least, you should stick to it. On the newer vehicles, most German manufacturers recommend an oil change every 12 to 15 thousand miles. This, however, isn’t frequent enough. The reasons I recommend greater regularity are to prevent sludge buildup and to completely check over your car. A thorough inspection allows your mechanic to determine what else your car needs and to establish priorities so you can budget and plan accordingly. Otherwise going 15,000 miles without an inspection might allow bad things to happen. Car owners, for example, rarely notice subtle changes in their vehicle, such as a worn shock or a vibration in the steering. These may lead to prematurely worn tires or even an accident. For these reasons, have your auto’s oil changed every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

Parts

We recommend always replacing worn out parts with factory parts, rather than those carried at auto stores. Auto stores usually sell general parts. For example, one filter from an auto parts store could be the same exact part as those they sell for three other vehicles. Such parts might starve your car for oil, which can eventually lead to serious problems.

Refurbished parts may be fine and save you some money. Before you go this route, however, make sure you buy from a quality refurbisher, such as through a reputable dealer, rather than an auto parts store. You should receive a warranty that is almost as good as one for new parts− perhaps 12 months. Under no circumstances, however, should you purchase a refurbished water or oil pump.

Expectations

Although regular maintenance will limit your vehicle’s need for repairs, still, as your car gets older, you should expect some problems. Typical parts that will need repair or replacement include your vehicle’s suspension, bushings and shocks. Also, belts may become brittle and crack. With VWs and Audis, expect to replace the timing belt between 75,000 and 85,000 miles. Batteries on all vehicles usually last no more than four years. Additionally, expect to need your automatic transmission serviced between 80,000 and 90,000 miles.

Unfortunately, after reaching 100,000 miles, parts do begin to wear out. Your car could run fine one day and the next day not start. Again, if you have been diligent about your maintenance, you should experience fewer problems.

When is it time to give up your vehicle?

Since many of our customers plan to hold onto their cars as long as possible, we recommend being as analytical as possible in deciding when to sell and purchase a new one. I suggest keeping accurate records of your repairs and determining how much a month it is costing you to keep your car smoothly running. If a new car will run you $650 a month and your current vehicle is costing you nearly that much to maintain, purchasing a new car may make sense.

Concluding remarks

If you have specific questions about your vehicle, please call or e-mail me to discuss your concerns (661-254-2128; klein.pro@verizon.net). Let’s hope that prosperous times are just around the corner for us all.

Maintenance Tip: Check Your Tires Once a Month

It is important to check your tires every month for two reasons. First, it lessens the wear and tear on the tire; and, second, it allows for the proper amount of rolling resistance. If the tire’s too low, there will be too much drag and gas mileage will drop. A general rule of thumb for tire pressure is 30 to 32 psi.

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