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Failure to heed 'check engine' light can do serious damage, mechanics say

Posted On Tue, January 29, 2013

Failing to check the engine when the warning light flashes, delaying scheduled maintenance and not ensuring the tires are filled properly are some of the most costly mistakes motorists make, a new survey of expert auto mechanics reveals.

California-based vehicle information website recently polled a number of professional automotive repair workers with a combined 840 years worth of fixing cars for a living. They then cited the top 10 car maintenance mistakes that they've witnessed most frequently in their careers.

In addition to neglecting the "check engine" light, tire pressure and tune-ups, other frequent blunders made by drivers today include failure to take care of fluid services - such as for the windshield, brakes, steering wheel and radiator - continuing to operate a car despite an overheating engine, and attempting to fix a car with little to no automotive experience.

Art Jacobsen, vice president of, noted that some people put off automotive maintenance, thinking that by doing so, they're saving themselves money. But this only compounds car problems and makes fixing matters that much more expensive.

"When consumers fail to properly maintain their vehicles, the resulting repair costs dwarf the money that could have been budgeted to maintain their car," said Jacobsen.

He added that staying on top of car maintenance can help motorists preserve what will likely be one of their most significant financial investments.

Based on crash tests and reliability ratings, some vehicles are less likely to encounter problems than others. Recently, subscribers to the magazine AutoWeek listed what they considered to be the most well-built and reliable cars. Among luxury vehicles, respondents selected the Audi A8 L, while the best sedan was the Chrysler 300 C. Naturally, these vehicles differ in both cost and auto insurance rates, as traditionally, luxury models are more expensive to insure.

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