The Negative Effects of Not Servicing Your Car (and How to Avoid Them)

A picture of a man pushing a white sedan after it broke down.

When you’re busy, it’s tempting to put off routine maintenance like oil changes or tire rotations, especially if your vehicle isn’t giving you any signs that something is wrong. But the negative effects of not servicing your car could lead to problems down the road that impact your vehicle’s performance and cost you money in otherwise avoidable repairs.

In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of routine maintenance, what happens if you don’t service your car, and discuss four common maintenance mistakes you can easily avoid.

A picture of traffic driving on a highway at sunset.

A Danger on the Road

Every driver knows the importance of wearing a seat belt, keeping a safe following distance, and abiding by speed limits. But an important safety measure that drivers often ignore is preventative maintenance. 

Every year, about 300,000 crashes are caused by brake failure, and 23% of the almost 6 million auto accidents in the U.S. are caused by hazardous weather and poor visibility (an estimated 1 in 5 drivers have deficient windshield wipers on their vehicle).

Routine preventative maintenance is vital to the well-being of both you, your passengers, and your vehicle, so it’s a good idea to get your vehicle into a trusted auto shop every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. There’s no use letting yourself become vulnerable to the dangerous effects of not servicing your car.

More Spent on Gas

There are two big costs to driving a neglected vehicle. The first is that you’ll likely end up using more fuel because your engine won’t run as efficiently as possible resulting in a lower MPG, and the second is the additional cost in labor and expenses from repairs.

As every part of a vehicle works together, the longer you drive with one problem, the higher the chance others will arise. For instance, something as simple as neglecting your routine oil change can result in engine troubles and, if left unattended, your vehicle breaking down.

Poor Performance

How do I know when to service my car? Its performance may be telling you all you need to know. When you don’t take care of your vehicle, it becomes difficult to drive and less efficient to operate. On average, routinely neglected vehicles suffer reduced performance by as much as 50%. 

Many drivers will sell their low-performing vehicle, deeming it too old to function well, when in reality the issues stem from a lack of care, and not your typical wear and tear. The time and money spent on getting a new car is much more than staying on top of routine maintenance. 

No matter how well you maintain your vehicle, something will eventually go wrong. However,  the negative effects of not servicing your vehicle severely increase when you ignore the basics. For instance, something as simple as neglecting your vehicle’s air filter can result in engine failure and damage to your combustion chamber.

Looking to Retain Resale Value?

Is scheduled maintenance necessary? It is, and it can help retain your vehicle’s resale value. Trade-in value is determined by the aesthetic and functional condition of your vehicle. You can expect to get less than you otherwise would for your vehicle if it has a history of missed oil changes, tune-ups, and engine failure.

Bigger Bills

Even with today’s modern cars, failing to service your vehicle regularly can lead to bigger bills when issues are left to persist. While expensive repairs can happen at any time and for a variety of reasons, neglecting your vehicle is a surefire way to encounter major issues that could otherwise have been avoided or at least caught early.

A picture of a man on his cell phone calling for assistance while looking under the hood of his vehicle.

4 Top Maintenance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Small issues ignored over time become big ones that can cost you in the long run. Routine maintenance is an easy investment that will pay off with lower repair bills, but only if you do it regularly. To help understand the negative effects of not servicing your car, we’ll take a look at some common mistakes drivers make to help you avoid the same pitfalls.

Mistake #1: Failure to Change Oil

If you don’t change your oil regularly, it can lead to significant engine damage. Not only does running your vehicle on dirty oil cause unnecessary wear-and-tear on your engine, but it could also prove harmful to your health. Old oil can become full of particles that can make their way into your respiratory system and affect your lungs.

The Fix? To keep yourself safe and ensure optimum engine performance, you should take your vehicle in for an oil change every 3,000-5,000 miles, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Check Tire Pressure

Another common mistake is forgetting to check your tires. If you aren’t servicing your tires, there’s a good chance they may start losing air (many newer vehicles have a sensor that will trigger a light on your dashboard) as a result of accumulated dirt and residue, valve stem deterioration, or small leaks in the tire tread, among other factors.

Feel like you’re spending more time and money at the gas pump lately? A common symptom of low tire pressure is poor fuel performance, which means you may not realize something is wrong until it’s too late. 

The Fix? By paying attention to your vehicle and ensuring its tires are properly filled with air and without leaks, you can improve gas mileage by up to 3 percent.

Mistake #3: Ignoring Routine Tune-Ups

Do you have to get your car serviced every year? We certainly recommend it. Check-ups are important, as they let you know if there’s a problem with your vehicle and help keep you safe on the road. Getting your car serviced late can end up damaging important engine parts and lead to costly repairs.

The Fix? How often you should have your car serviced depends on the date and mileage. However, most manufacturers suggest having a general tune-up every 30,000 miles or once a year.

A picture of a mechanic using a wrench to tighten various components under a vehicle's hood.

Mistake #4: Driving Recklessly or Care-Free

Often, we’re so distracted by everyday routines that we forget to prioritize safety. This is especially dangerous when it comes to your vehicle, which you depend on to get you from place to place safely.

Driving recklessly (from hitting other vehicles or stationary objects to simply slamming on your brakes too much) can create serious problems for your vehicle.

The Fix? While most vehicle owners wouldn’t self-identify as a “car person,” stepping back and taking some time to assess your driving in the name of safety far outweighs any immediate gain from cutting corners and getting to your destination a few minutes sooner. Smartphone apps like Life360 have a service that allows you to see how fast you’ve been driving, with features like crash detection to alert family members.

What Is Routine Maintenance On a Car?

Typically, routine maintenance includes checking motor oil, radiator coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, wiper blades, and brake pads. Some vehicles also require mechanical maintenance like replacing spark plugs, drive belts, timing belts or chains, and air and fluid filters.

Belts and hoses wear out over time. Rubber hoses can crack or swell, which causes leaks that could leave you stranded. As your car approaches 100,000 miles, checking the radiator, power brakes, and power steering is a necessity.

Staying on top of routine maintenance can prevent your vehicle from breaking down on the side of the road. To make sure you’re contributing to your vehicle’s longevity, schedule a maintenance service at a K&W store in your area.