Car repairs that can wait

Thursday April 01 2021
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By Mustafa Ziraba

Covid-19 has affected our financial, professional, and social environments. The sudden disruptions caused by this public health crisis are presenting economic challenges with growing repercussions.

Car repairs can be very expensive. When a car gets older you tend to spend more money on repairs. Unfortunately, there are some car repairs that you have to carry out no matter how we feel about them. For example, having a blown cylinder head gasket or your oil pump is not working or something as mundane as replacement of a battery or fixing a tyre puncture.

Fortunately, there are some other repairs that can wait without much damage done. When money is tight, and it gets tight for all of us sometimes, it is hard to come up with the money to keep a car in proper working order. If the cost of constant car maintenance has got you down, start thinking about some of the repairs you have been getting done and ask if they are really necessary right now, or if they could wait.

Oil leaks

These scare many drivers because of all the other problems they could start. However, a minor oil leak does not necessarily require instant action. In fact, for older cars, oil leaks are largely a perfectly normal occurrence. It is true that you have to bear in mind that there is always a risk of losing a lot of oil and messing up the engine. But if you are short on cash, such a repair could be nursed for a little while.Cosmetic repairs have to be the worst investment of money in used cars that have been acting up and not running well. There is no reason to spend a shilling painting a car when you have had engine problems, for example. That sweet new pearl white colour will not make it run any better. This same rule applies to body repair and interior fabric rips, among others. If a car is a money pit, do not make it worse by wasting money on these things.

Small windscreen chips

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Unless the chips are obstructing your vision or are developing into growing cracks, you can usually live with them. I one time had a chipped windscreen that lasted three years until it had to be replaced for other reasons.

Some electrical issues

If your battery or alternator dies, you have to replace them. However, if your radio dies or your air conditioner is not working well, you can still drive the car. Even a car whose air conditioning has failed is still driveable, albeit unpleasant. Any electrical gremlins that do not impact the drivability of a car can always be ignored. This is sometimes done out of no choice where that pesky engine check light has baffled all the mechanics who have looked at it and one elects to simply ignore it.

How to judge

Donald Lule, a senior instructor with Nakawa Vocational Institute, reveals that there has to be a little bit of judgement in deciding what can wait and for how long. You could get advice from your mechanic. Unfortunately, one common mistake is that many people wait to do car repairs until the car will not start or stops running. Worse still is that today’s cars are so resilient that they can take all kinds of abuse and neglect and shall still move.

There are a number of problems with this approach, first is that diagnosing a car that is not well maintained is much more difficult, costly, and time consuming. When the cause of a car not starting or running can be many things, determining the actual cause, the diagnosis, is more difficult.

A second problem is that a relatively simple repair or maintenance item can become worse and cause major damage if it is not attended to. If possible, always address problems as they occur and as a consequence, making repair bills smaller and the prioritisation of future repairs easier and less expensive.

Over the life of your car, it is likely to need a number of major fixes and minor tune-ups. While some of these repairs can wait for your next routine maintenance appointment, it is critical to handle others immediately. The most important thing is to learn and know when it is important to run to the garage and when you can actually wait.

Others

Tyre problems. When a tyre loses air due to a small puncture, getting the tyre patched is an easy way to avoid the cost of a new replacement tyre. All punctures do not require the tyre to be changed. Sometimes when you get the tyre fixed it works for a longer period if the tyre has tread left to be used. Always check the tread when you get the tyres checked or fixed in order to have an idea about when to change it or how long it can still last.

Air conditioning issues. This issue happens a lot as people use the air conditioner regularly in their cars regardless of the season. This is something you can shop around since this is a not an integral part of the car’s operations. This issue can be solved whenever you are free and does not need immediate attention.

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