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FLP_Webslider4_aWhen money and time are tight, it can be tempting to put off car maintenance. After all, it’s still running, right? Who cares if there’s a little rattle, or a check engine light that won’t go off?

Unfortunately, this can be an expensive and dangerous mistake! To give you an idea of just how important maintenance is, we’ve collected some “worst case scenarios” for skipping key maintenance procedures. We’ve also gathered some average maintenance costs from the RepairPal app (available for iOS and Android) for an average priced car (a 2008 Ford Focus.)

What if you never changed your oil?

Oil picks up grime from combustion and any dirt that gets sucked in your engine. Naturally, it gets pretty nasty. If you avoid changing the oil, it stops lubricating your engine and turns this grime into thick deposits. This can cause overheating, worse gas mileage, or complete engine failure. Here’s a photo example from a BMW 3-series. Worst case scenarios include:

  • Head gasket failure ($1538+)
  • Oil pump failure ($713+)
  • Oil pan replacement ($294+)

What if you don’t change your timing belt on time?

A timing belt keeps all those moving bits in your engine from crashing into each other. Some cars have chains, which are maintenance free. If you have a belt, it typically has to be replaced every 60,000 – 100,000 miles. Most cars also have interference engines, which means if this belt snaps, your engine is done. Usually, this means you have to buy a new car.

A timing belt repair usually costs around $600 – $1000, so it’s not cheap. It’s still cheaper than buying a new car, so save up for it!

What if you don’t get an alignment?

As your car drives over bumps and potholes, the suspension gradually gets a little crooked. You’ll notice this if you’re going straight and your steering wheel veers left or right. An alignment fixes this problem, and ensures your tires and suspension wear evenly. Avoiding an alignment can mean:

  • New tires ($350+)
  • Axle replacement ($485+)
  • Wheel bearing replacement ($620+)

What if you ignore those squealing brakes?

The importance of your car’s brakes is obvious. The brake pads are the most frequently replaced brake part. But once these pads wear down, it’s not just a safety issue: the rest of your brake assembly wears down much quicker. If you don’t replace pads on time, you might also pay for:

  • New calipers ($305+)
  • New rotors ($276+)

As you can see, maintenance is an annoying but necessary expense. When you buy a car, make sure you budget ahead for its maintenance! It’s an investment that protects your valuable purchase.