Mechanics Reveal The Most Common Car Maintenance Mistakes That Can Cost Owners Thousands In Repairs

Getting past your anxiety and biting the bullet on going to the mechanic can save you tons of headaches.

Mechanic fixing a car Syda Productions /

Let's just tell it like it is: Cars are a pain in the [redacted] that often feel like a ticking time bomb sitting in your driveway just waiting for the chance to wipe out your bank account. No wonder so many of us just turn up the radio and pretend we didn't hear that weird noise from under the hood!

But mechanics say there are some very easy changes car owners can make that will save them tons of cash — and perhaps even more frustration in the long run.


Mechanics on TikTok shared the most common car maintenance mistakes that cost owners thousands.

For a lot of us, cars are mysterious, mystifying machines that seem entirely too complex for us to even begin to understand, and with the special talent they have for breaking at the exact moment you're finally caught up financially, it's all too easy to become avoidant towards them.

Most Common Car Maintenance Mistakes Mechanics Say Cost Owners Thousands In RepairsPhoto: nomadsoulphotos / Canva Pro


But the mechanics at Accurate Automotive, a car repair shop in the Denver area, say that tendency toward avoidance is the very thing that often ends up costing car owners tons of money in the end. 



They explained the most common car maintenance mistakes they see over and over again in their work—minor things people often avoid that really add up in the long run.

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1. Waiting too long for oil changes

This was on pretty much every mechanic's list when asked this question. One of Accurate's mechanics said specifically that people who go "way above 5,000 miles" between oil changes are usually setting themselves up for trouble.

Conventional wisdom on when to grab an oil change has long been every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Experts say that advice is now outdated due to the way both engines and oil products have changed in recent years — both are far more efficient than they used to be. 

But that doesn't mean you can just blow it off. Consumer Reports says that the best source of oil change guidelines for each car owner is the good old manual that comes with the car. Check the recommended oil change schedule and stick to it — faithfully. 


2. Ignoring dashboard warnings and delaying routine maintenance like tune-ups and brake changes.

Sure, those dashboard warnings are annoying—and they often just mean that the car's monitoring system itself is on the blink, not the actual car. 



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But you only know if you get it checked, right? One of Accurate's mechanics said people "[not thinking] a check engine light is as serious as what it is" is a hugely common and often extremely expensive mistake. (Hot tip: If the check engine light is not just lit but also flashing — hoo boy, pull that car over, NOW.)


The mechanics also said that "skipping" periodic maintenance like tune-ups and "thinking that you can get by" once your brakes start making noise, for example, are other mistakes that are "definitely gonna cost you in the long run."



3. Trying to do car repairs yourself without being careful of the details. 

To put it bluntly, one mechanic said tackling DIY repairs and "not knowing what you're doing" is another mishap that routinely sends people to the mechanic for gazillions of dollars in repairs.

Most Common Car Maintenance Mistakes Mechanics Say Cost Owners Thousands In RepairsPhoto: Gratisography / Canva Pro


That doesn't mean you can't do some things yourself, and speaking from experience, you'd be surprised how many car repairs are simple as pie. But you do have to be careful of the details. 

Accurate's mechanics mentioned things like not paying attention to the specific types of fluid your car needs before putting them in the car — this can quite literally ruin your car's components in some cases. 

They also mentioned "not having the right tools for the job" you're doing and just sort of winging it — which is a good way to break something that will end up costing you more money. 


None of these tips will make owning a car less of a pain in the tuchus. But keeping an eye on these mistakes — and getting past the reflex to put off maintenance and avoid going to the mechanic—can make the whole process easier and cheaper in the long run

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.