Are You Guilty of the Top 10 Worst Car-Maintenance Crimes?


Are you the type of car owner who dutifully changes the oil every 3,000 miles or the one who ignores the check engine light because you figure the problem most likely is a malfunctioning check engine light?

If you fall into the latter category, you're not only gambling with the long-term well-being of your vehicle, but you're almost certain to pay far more for major repairs than if you'd simply followed basic maintenance schedules prescribed in your car's owner's manual, according to, a Southern California-based advocacy group. That check engine light could be notifying you of a faulty oxygen sensor, for example, and what might've been a $20 air filter replacement could become a $1,000 catalytic converter replacement; likewise, not changing the oil can result in complete engine failure, as dirty oil ruins today's high-tech engines.

To illustrate the point and help car owners prioritize maintenance activities, surveyed its team of certified master technicians and developed a list of the top 10 worst maintenance mistakes. Infractions include:

  • 10. Trying to service your own high-tech vehicle
  • 9. Using generic aftermarket parts instead of original equipment manufacturer parts
  • 8. Having unqualified shops service your vehicle
  • 7. Not changing fuel and air filters
  • 6. Continuing to drive when the vehicle is overheating
  • 5. Neglecting coolant, brake, transmission and other fluid services
  • 4. Not checking tire pressure
  • 3. Not changing the oil, or not having it changed on time
  • 2. Ignoring the "check engine" light
  • 1. Putting off recommended/scheduled maintenance

CarMD notes that taking car maintenance seriously does not mean wasting money on "gimmicks like injector flushes and nitrogen in the tires."

"The best rule of thumb is 'any service other than what is recommended in your owner's manual is unnecessary,' " it said in a statement.

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By Matt Schmitz | January 25, 2013 | Comments (19)



I would add cheaping out on a windshield replacement or procrastinating getting a chipped windshield repaired. Both of these bad car care practices are common.


You should not be perpetuating the 3000 mile oil change interval rule of thumb. It is obsolete. It is a waste of oil and money and owners need to stop getting suckered into getting their oil changed every 3000 miles.

I also see many of the top ten items are self-serving to protect the jobs and relevancy of those surveyed.


I prefer to do my own maintenance. Then I know it's done right and I personally can keep on eye on it's condition.

Derrick G

Wonder how much they were paid to deride aftermarket parts? There are plenty of aftermarket parts certified as upholding mfg.'s warranties. There's no real need to buy OEM parts in that case.


After our Impala's factory high quality "hollow" front swaybar snapped off, I purchased a solid aftermarket one to fix it for $100 vs ? (crazy dealer price for probally another hollow one). Lifetime warranty on new one. Solid bar should have been there in the first place. I too am in favor of the new 5,000 oil change rule over the current 3,000 mile. Especially since Dexos speced oil are part/full synthetic anyway. Direct injection engines should be 5,000 OCI max IMHO due to fuel dilution in oil.

I’ve been looking for a good blog about a reliable auto mechanic service so I’m glad I found yours. Good stuff! Cheers.


My check engine light has been off and on for 180,000 miles. I am glad I didn't waste $1000 on a new catalytic converter. The car has 280,000 now and still runs great.


Swap #6 and #1. Waiting an extra 1000 miles to get your oil changed isn't going to kill it.

However, driving an extra 5 miles with an overheating engine very well might.


Check Engine light should read as $, $$, $$$ or $$$$


Most of these items are indeed self serving. If you know what you are doing, working on your "high tech" car is easy. Can you work with OBDII? As for the oil change, 3,000 miles is ideal if you only start your car and drive less than ten miles a two and from work. 5k makes much more sense for anyone that actually drives. Over heating and low fluid levels should be the number one item on the list. Never drive a car that is over heating. Never.


Stupid. Failure fo address check engine light does NOT cause more expensive failures. It came on due to a failure. Pure poppycock.


Actually new cars are CAN-BUS, not OBDII.

A Check Engine Light illuminated could actually cause more expensive failures. Example: A catalyst monitoring oxygen sensor has failed, if left unaddressed it could actually cause damage to the catalytic converter itself.

Or if you have a hard misfire (check engine light on or flashing), if unaddressed could do serious engine damage.


No car requires a 3,000 mile change interval. Read your specific manual to determine when you should change your oil.
Also, saying that a failed oxygen sensor will cause a failed catalytic converter is straight up lying - engines turn to fail safe, which slightly richens the mixture. But it is still going to run so close to (possibly even above) stoichiometric AFR's that it would NEVER damage a catalyst that wasn't already flawed.


Guys, the article reference the 3000-mile oil change as a trait of a certain type of car owner. As it states, you should look in your owner's manual for service schedules.



The ECM adjusts FT (fuel trim) based on data from the oxygen sensors. Even more precisely with an Air/Fuel Ratio sensor, but I said OXYGEN SENSOR.

If the sensor is dead, or even sweeping lazy, how is it the ECM can do anything with FT to keep the converter safe? It cannot adjust for perfect combustion if it can't use all of the data it needs. So in other words the ECM will just guess at what it's doing when it comes to fuel mixture. Unburnt fuel passing in the converter, whether short-term or long-term, is bad! Leaving that unaddressed COULD (I did say could) cause the converter to fail.

Anyway... believe what you want. It's senseless to leave a Check Engine Light unaddressed, which is why it's part of this top 10 list.


Like others have commented, this list was prepared by a bunch of self-serving so-called "master" mechanics. What's wrong with servicing your own high-tech vehicle? I do it myself and have 235K miles on my 99 Nissan. If repairs shops wouldn't try to screw customers with unneeded repairs and jacked up prices all the time, I would gladly let them get their hands dirty.

Then more testing was performed to search out what the boots ended up truly designed of ?a with shocking are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw. Thanks for posting this useful information. This was just what I was on looking for.

been looking for a good blog about a reliable auto mechanic service so I’m glad I found yours. Good stuff!

One of the worst things that malfunction of vehicles on the road

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