In addition to buying and maintaining auto insurance, one of the most important parts of owning a vehicle is performing routine maintenance.
Routine vehicle maintenance not only helps ensure the safety and reliability of your car, but it can also greatly extend its lifespan.
But the costs of basic routine maintenance for your car add up quickly. That’s why many people wonder if their car insurance helps cover such costs.
Unfortunately, most auto insurance policies aren’t preventative in nature. What that means is that they’re not designed to prevent repairs and damages – only help you pay to cover them if they do occur.
Here’s everything you need to know about the relationship between routine maintenance, mechanical repairs, and car insurance.
What is Routine Maintenance?
Suggested routine maintenance varies from vehicle to vehicle.
It’s easy to look up exactly what the manufacturer recommends for your make, model, and year of vehicle.
Despite the slight variations in recommended preventative maintenance, there are a few important basics that almost all vehicles require.
This almost universal regular auto maintenance includes:
- Oil Change – Most auto manuals recommend oil changes between every 3,000 and 5,000 miles.
- Other Fluids – It’s important to check your transmission, brake, power steering, antifreeze, and other fluid levels on a regular basis.
- Battery – Visually check your battery on a regular basis. Clean off any white residue you notice with a wire brush and a mixture of baking soda and water.
- Filters – You should check your air filter and oil filter on a regular basis.
- Tires – Check your tire pressure every month and fill them as needed. Keep an eye on the tread and replace your tires when they’re worn down.
Lifehacker states that along with these absolute basics, most vehicles also require you to change spark plugs, change the timing belt, and replace the windshield wipers on a regular basis.
And all of this is in addition to other minor repairs like replacing blown lightbulbs, like headlights, brake lights, and turn signals.
Lifehacker goes on to suggest reviewing your vehicle owner’s manual – either the paper copy or online – to see exactly what is recommend for your specific vehicle.
No, Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Routine Maintenance
As mentioned above, auto insurance typically doesn’t cover routine maintenance.
Unlike other types of insurance, such as dental insurance, your car insurance isn’t preventative in nature.
The goal isn’t to prevent damages from occurring – that’s largely up to you. Instead, it’s to help you pay to repair these damages if they do happen.
That means that your car insurance won’t cover regular maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, battery replacement, and the like.
These important maintenance jobs are up to you to pay for and have performed.
Your Alternative Options for Routine Maintenance
If you don’t know much about the mechanical workings of cars, it might seem like no big deal to skip routine maintenance like, say, an oil change.
But doing so can lead to major damages that require costly repairs down the line. And your auto insurance won’t cover these if they stem from a failure to perform routine maintenance.
For example, Jalopnik states that failing to change your oil can lead to a poorly running (and less fuel efficient) vehicle.
Worse still, any oil leaks or other problems will likely go unnoticed. You even run the risk of using your vehicle without any oil which can cause hundreds or thousands of dollars in damages to your engine.
What this means is that it’s up to you to perform your manufacturer’s suggest routine maintenance on schedule – because your car insurance won’t cover you here.
The best option for many vehicle owners is to have a mechanic, dealership, or quick lube shop perform regular maintenance for you.
Not only will they make sure that all of the basics are covered, but their trained technicians will be able to spot other potential problems before they become major issues.
Of course, you can also perform some of these vehicle maintenance tasks yourself. Among the easiest is learning how to change your oil by yourself.
Does Vehicle Maintenance Affect Your Insurance Rates?
Something that not many people think about is the relationship between regular vehicle maintenance and your auto insurance rates.
Sure, your car insurance policy might not cover regular maintenance, but this doesn’t mean that there is no correlation between the two.
Many auto insurance providers actually provide lower premiums to those that keep their vehicles in good condition by performing regular maintenance and repairs.
Part of the reasoning is that you’re less likely to get into an accident in a vehicle that is well maintained and in good working condition.
The Insurance Information Institute suggests keeping receipts and records for any and all regular vehicle maintenance.
You can show these documents to your insurance agent or directly to your auto insurance provider. There’s a chance that after reviewing them, you’ll receive lower rates thanks to the proven safety of your vehicle.
What About Mechanical Repairs?
Mechanical repairs greatly differ from routine maintenance, especially in the eyes of your auto insurance provider.
For example, mechanical repairs are to repair the essential components of your vehicle while routine maintenance is to prevent avoidable damages.
As mentioned above, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an auto insurance company willing to pay for mechanical repairs caused by a lack of regular maintenance.
On the other hand, most policies will cover mechanical repairs stemming from an accident with another vehicle or object.
However, all of this depends on the exact type of coverage you buy.
These policies will likely help pay for the mechanical repairs needed to fix any damaged mechanical components.
Another Option: Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
One other related option is mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI).
Mechanical breakdown insurance simply helps you pay for car repairs that might be unrelated to an accident.
There are a number of levels of MBI available. Each covers different components, such as engine parts, drivetrain, transmission, and so on.
Note that MBI still does not cover routine maintenance. It also doesn’t cover damages from an accident (for this, you still need your regular car insurance coverage).
Even though your car insurance won’t cover it, routine vehicle maintenance is incredibly important.
It ensures your car is safe and reliable, increases the vehicle lifespan, and can even lower your car insurance premiums.