Why You’re Wasting Money on Auto Repairs – Maintenance vs. Repair

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When you enter an automotive shop, you’ll probably hear “preventative maintenance” and “repairs” said quite often. These are very common in the automotive industry, and they have separate meanings. We as a species have a tendency to live with the idea of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” or “I don’t see/hear/smell anything, so nothing is wrong.” In this helpful blog from Casey’s Automotive in Sterling, VA, we’ll explain the difference between automotive maintenance and repairs. We will also explain why preventative maintenance is necessary for avoiding costly repairs in the future.

Maintenance (Preventative Maintenance)

Maintaining your vehicle is crucial for performance and longevity. It is also essential for preventing future damages. Maintenance refers to the services such as oil changes, brake pad replacements, fluid flushes (brake, coolant, and transmission fluids) tire rotations, wheel balancing, brake pad replacements, and filter replacements.

Given the varying maintenance schedules, some items require service more often than others. For example, oil changes are done more frequently than brake fluid flushes, which can last for 2 years depending on the vehicle and the rate of which it is driven. Most manufacturers have a schedule of maintenance pertinent to your vehicle’s specific needs that can be found in the owner’s manual. Take a look at Casey’s Maintenance Schedule for our recommended intervals.


Repairs are the services required when a component in your vehicle no longer works properly. The malfunction can be due to a part that is either worn or is simply no longer functioning as it should.

Repairs are more expensive than maintenance. If you fail to maintain your vehicle, repairs will become inevitable.  Maintaining your car regularly allows you to stay ahead of costly repairs.

Consequences of Avoiding Maintenance

Example 1) – Brake Pads – As mentioned in the Maintenance section above, brake pads are one of the components in your vehicle, which will eventually have to be replaced. So, why is this?

The brake system has multiple working parts:

Brake lines – they hold the hydraulic fluid, which assists with the pressure necessary to slow down or to stop the vehicle.

Rotors or discs – considered the heart of the brake system. (Usually visible just behind the tires)

Brake calipers – they basically clamp onto the rotors, and they contain hydraulic pistons that are connected to the brake lines.

Brake pads – the elements that lie between the calipers and the rotor discs.

When you press on a brake pedal, the brake calipers act as a vise that grips onto the rotor slowing down the vehicle. Brake pads are the key to your brake system because they make direct contact with the rotor discs, nestled in between the caliper clamps. They take on all the friction and pressure necessary to make the vehicle stop without damaging the metal rotor.

If the brake pads are worn out, the calipers make direct contact with the rotor by clamping and rubbing metal on metal. This causes immense damage to the rotor plates. Think of grating cheese. Not good, right?

When the rotors become worn like that, you are not only at risk of needing your rotors replaced, you are putting the whole brake system into jeopardy. That is where costly repairs come into play. All of which might have been avoided with general maintenance services.

Example 2) – Fluid Flushes – Let’s look at transmission fluid. The fluid is circulated throughout the transmission where it lubricates all of the over 400 moving parts. The transmission has a filter built into it that, unlike an oil filter, doesn’t get replaced. Instead, it is a metal filter that is continuously used, gets used. Over time, tiny pieces of metal fleck off the filter and are carried through the system. Between that, other contaminants, and the naturally occurring breakdown of fluids, the many moving parts are no longer being receiving the proper lubrication.

Before flushing begins, a cleaner is added into the system. It runs through the lines and loosens up the crud. After this, it is transferred through a machine like dialysis. It sucks out the old fluid while pushing the treatment through, then refills the system with fresh fluid.

If it isn’t eventually flushed, it can lead to the transmission itself being worn down at a faster rate requiring eventual repairs.

Example 3) – Wheel Alignment – If you’ve ever been driving and found yourself needing to over-adjust your steering wheel you know what a misalignment feels like. When the alignment is out of whack, an uneven amount of pressure is put onto the tires causing uneven wear. So, a set of four tires that should have lasted a few years will instead need replacing.

How Maintenance Saves You Money

As you can see from the examples listed above, general maintenance services are much more affordable than big-ticket repairs. Quite frankly, the costs pale in comparison when weighed against one another. By investing smaller amounts throughout the year, you can help yourself avoid several costly repairs to your automobile.

Automotive Maintenance Service in Sterling, VA

Whether it is your vehicle’s air filters, oil change, and filter, fluid flushes, or brake system inspection, bring your car or truck to a shop you can trust. At Casey’s Automotive, we specialize in maintenance and repairs. We subject every vehicle to a complimentary 42-point inspection that comes directly to your phone, complete with photos and descriptions. If you can see and understand the ins and outs of your vehicle, you will be better equipped to make your service choices!


The best referral you can get is from a neighbor.