What Happens if You Don’t Service Your Car?

September 17th, 2020 by

Having your vehicle regularly serviced is crucial for preventing mechanical issues and maximizing its lifespan. Whether you drive an old clunker or a brand-new car, proper maintenance is a must. Unfortunately, many drivers put off service appointments to save money or avoid the hassle, but in reality, failing to maintain your vehicle can result in costly repairs later. So, what happens if you don’t service your car? Let’s explore a few scenarios.

Reduced Fuel Economy

There are many reasons why your car may not be getting the gas mileage it once did, and they’re all related to maintenance issues. Improper tire pressure, dirty air filters, and old motor oil all contribute to poor fuel economy — and yet they’re easily addressed.

A bad oxygen sensor alone can reduce your gas mileage by up to 20%. That’s because oxygen sensors are designed to maintain the proper balance of air and fuel, and any inaccuracies result in inefficiency. Although your check engine light will come on, you won’t necessarily know that your car’s oxygen sensor has gone bad, but a service technician can diagnose the problem right away. In general, most oxygen sensors are rated for around 100,000 miles, which is something to keep in mind if you drive an older vehicle.

Bad fuel injectors can also affect your fuel economy. Faulty fuel injectors can be identified by the engine warning light, a misfiring or vibrating engine, rough idling, or engine stalling. In some cases, you might even smell a fuel leak while driving. When fuel injectors are leaking or clogged, there’s a significant drop in fuel economy because less fuel reaches the engine. Scheduling a service appointment can ensure this issue is fixed in no time.

Increased Wear and Tear

While the last few decades have seen dramatic improvements to automotive engines, certain factors related to driving style and lack of servicing can cause an engine to wear at a faster rate, reducing its overall lifespan. Even if you’re a good driver who doesn’t rev up the engine and test its limits, you’re not doing yourself any favors by skipping essential service milestones.

For instance, failing to have your air, oil, and fuel filters replaced at regular intervals can lead to abrasive wear. Small particles formed during combustion clog the filters, resulting in poor filtration. Regular oil and filter changes address these contaminants and keep them from scouring or grinding against your engine’s metal components. You should also ensure your service technician uses only high-quality filters that help eliminate abrasive wear.

Another common type of wear is corrosion. The combustion process forms acids that can corrode components if not for adequate engine oil that protects the cylinder wall. Corrosive wear is also more problematic in vehicles used seasonally or sporadically, such as a backup vehicle. That’s because low temperatures cause corrosive wear, and unless you’re driving your car regularly, the engine doesn’t get hot enough to release harmful acids as gas. Instead, the acids condense as droplets onto the cylinder wall. Starting up your backup vehicle at least once a week can help prevent corrosion, but it can’t take the place of professional servicing.

Voided Warranty

Another consequence of not servicing your car is that you run the risk of voiding your warranty. New and certified pre-owned vehicles include manufacturer warranties to help you afford regular maintenance. Most warranties include free oil changes, tire rotations, and other routine services as long as you abide by the warranty stipulations. Failing to adhere to the warranty’s service requirements invalidates your coverage, leaving you responsible for the costs of any maintenance moving forward.

The easiest way to keep your warranty valid is to have your vehicle serviced at the dealership. Although you’re not required to choose a dealership service center, independent shops don’t keep the same detailed records. This means that if you have your oil changed at the corner garage, you’ll need to keep the receipts and any other documentation that can prove you’ve fulfilled your end of the warranty.

Dealership service centers, on the other hand, keep extensive records and can look up services performed at another dealership in their network. Dealership technicians are also specifically trained in servicing under their manufacturer’s warranties, so they know better than anyone how to keep your warranty valid.


Vehicles that aren’t properly maintained are more likely to break down or cause accidents. Just think of how important your car’s brakes are. Brakes alone are prone to rust and corrosion, low or leaking brake fluid, and overheating. Brakes can even fail due to moisture, faulty parts, and other issues that are easily addressed with routine maintenance.

Almost any component in your vehicle can increase the risk of an accident if it’s been neglected long enough. For instance, skipping a tire rotation causes your tires to wear at uneven rates. Uneven tires cause your car to pull toward one side of the road, which can be dangerous in bad weather or if you’re momentarily distracted. Uneven tread wear can also result in poor traction, hydroplaning, heat buildup, and an increased risk of blowouts. Simply hitting a pothole with a neglected tire can cause devastating consequences.

The good news is that a tire rotation is cheaper than buying a new set (see our current Tire Rebate!), and this is usually the case with any type of routine maintenance. Staying on top of your car’s servicing needs may seem like an unnecessary expense, but you’ll save money in the long run.

Costly Replacements

Buying a new car is a big financial decision that not everyone can afford. Regular maintenance can ensure your existing vehicle stays in good shape for as long as possible, helping you to avoid financing a new one.

Even if you plan on selling your car at some point in the near future, regular maintenance can ensure you’re not paying for parts or engine replacements and that you can ask for more money from potential buyers.

Don’t neglect your car’s servicing any longer. Make an appointment with the experts at Cochran Cars for all your automotive needs.

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