Very often, folks have their vehicles towed in for major repair. We see burned out ignition coils, bad fuel pumps, broken timing belts and so on. The failure often surprises the owner. We commonly hear, "I felt no symptoms." With an older vehicle the driver usually had symptoms that preceded a breakdown. For instance, an engine idles rough, is harder to start or even loses fuel mileage when it needs a tune-up.
A need for service does not show a symptom
Such symptoms are not so with today's vehicles. Through extensive computerization, engineers have largely eliminated such symptoms from reaching the driver. An actual "tune up" no longer exists and worn spark plugs normally show no symptoms at all. Symptoms as above may show a leaking intake manifold or a failure in the engine management system. With most maintenance items, the first symptom of not replacing them is a breakdown.
If it's not broken, why fix it?
Why should we be concerned, when there are no symptoms? The reason for maintenance is, it saves money and prevents breakdowns. "Run to Fail" is very expensive reasoning. Modern vehicles are now masking the symptoms we felt in the past. For instance, worn spark plugs simply demand more energy from the ignition coil(s). They increase the duty-cycle until the coils fail. The driver does not experience symptoms until the coils burn up. Replacing ignition coils is far more expensive and we still have to replace the worn spark plugs. Replacing them sooner prevents failure of the coils.
With no symptoms, we may not realize we have not replaced the fuel filter. A restricted fuel filter overworks the fuel pump, and causes it to fail. Another example is a worn timing belt that breaks, no symptoms at all.
This is why scheduled maintenance is so very important. Vehicle manufacturers specify time and mileage intervals for maintenance items to be checked and/or replaced. This is because they know there will be no symptoms.
Complicating matters, manufacturers have extended intervals to the absolute limit. They extend intervals, knowing it makes the vehicle appear more attractive to buyers. They also realize, extremely high repair bills, down the road, are likely to drive the client to a new vehicle purchase. This "run to fail" mentality can cost a driver big bucks.
The annual inspection
Properly performing all maintenance is the surest way to prevent huge repair bills and lower the over all cost of driving. It can be quite confusing, trying to keep track of all the intervals. A much simpler method is bringing the vehicle in, once a year, for a General Inspection. Annual inspections keep all maintenance up to date and are easy to remember.