I bought my pickup truck new in late 2006 and managed to put over 200,000 miles on it before I sold it recently. I learned a lot about simple maintenance, especially in the first 6 or 7 years of driving that truck. I was always good about changing the oil on time, and that's certainly an important one. But one day, it started spittin' and sputterin' and I thought for sure the engine was going to blow. I took it in to the shop and all it needed was new spark plugs. Depending on your make and model, spark plugs will need to be replaced every 30-90 thousand miles. That's quite a spread, so check your owner's manual. But once I got mine replaced, the difference was amazing. She purred like brand new. Replace those on schedule and you'll never have that problem.

Now, this is either a big one, or one you don't need at all: YOUR TIMING BELT OR CHAIN. Sadly, I neglected to do this on my wife's car, and we paid dearly for it. She was on the way to work at 4:30 a.m. and got stranded halfway there when her timing belt broke. You may have guessed by my lack of knowledge about spark plugs that I'm not mechanically inclined, so I had no idea (even though it was all in the owner's manual) that you needed to replace the timing belt every 60,000 miles. When that very important part breaks, everything is thrown out of wack and your valves get bent...$3500 to repair! Replacing the timing belt BEFORE it breaks will save you thousands of dollars. After that happened, I took my truck into the shop to have that one replaced also...they said it doesn't have one. Silly, stupid me. Again, the owner's manual can be your friend.


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