Caring for an SUV

SUVs took the roads by storm when they burst into the mainstream a couple of decades ago. They’ve changed a lot since, but they certainly have not gone away: while our modern SUVs look a bit different from their forebears and (mercifully) have made some significant improvements in certain areas, they’re still recognizable as SUVs, and they’re still everywhere you look.

The giant truck-based SUVs of yore are largely a thing of the past, but car-based unibody SUVs are as popular as ever. Crossovers, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, and yes, even large SUVs, are filling roads and parking lots across America. The modern SUV is leaner and more beautiful than the old versions: it goes further on the same gallon of gas, especially if it’s one of the several great hybrid SUVs on the market, and it goes that distance in style thanks to elegant modern designs. SUVs have made up ground in these areas while maintaining their great reputations for all-terrain and all-weather handling, safety, and roomy interiors.

So it’s no surprise that many Americans still love their SUVs, and are still in the market for newer and newer SUV models. If you’re among our nation’s mass of SUV lovers, then you’ll want to make sure that you protect your pricey investment by caring properly for your vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about caring for an SUV.

A well-maintained vehicle is safer and more efficient

Even if you could postpone maintenance and not have to worry that problems would get worse and more expensive to fix (and that is very much not the case, as we’ll see in the moment!) it would still be foolish to neglect your SUV. Why? Because issues with your SUV undermine its best features.

Modern SUVs are more fuel-efficient than ever. They remain some of the safest vehicles on the road. But even the best SUVs in the world can’t counteract poor maintenance. If your SUV is a poorly maintained mess, you’re working against all of its best features. An engine tune-up could make your fuel use more efficient again, and proper maintenance could make breakdowns or the failure of vital systems within your SUV much less likely to occur, thereby keeping you safer.

Preventative maintenance is the name of the game

Here’s something that drives your mechanic crazy: when you wait until you have a problem with your vehicle to bring it into the shop.

Sure, your mechanic will probably make more money on this repair than he would if you’d come earlier — but that’s kind of the point. Your mechanic isn’t just here to make money. They want to give you a car that works well and keeps you safe, so that you keep coming back to them for great work. In order to keep your SUV running as well as possible, your mechanic needs to be able to work on it regularly.

Preventative maintenance, including belt changes, oil changes, and other basics, is the backbone of any good SUV care plan. Without it, maintenance neglect can lead to real problems with your vehicle. Neglect those problems, and the issues will get larger and costlier. Take your belts, for instance: they need to be replaced every once in a while. If they aren’t, they can stretch or snap. Since these belts keep different parts of your SUV’s engine in sync with each other, a belt issue can lead to serious problems with big, important metal stuff in your engine — stuff that is now out of sync or was damaged when the belt tension suddenly disappeared. Now you’re looking at a much more expensive repair, all because you couldn’t be bothered to pay a few bucks for a belt. If you pay up front for reliable maintenance and care, you’ll pay less down the road.

Get a mechanic who knows SUVs

Maintaining your vehicle means getting preventative maintenance and acting fast when something is wrong with your SUV. It means listening to your trusted mechanic and not putting off necessary repairs, because those repairs will only become more involved and costlier over time — and, in the meantime, you’ll be undermining your SUV’s safety and efficiency features. But there’s a character that keeps appearing in these hypotheticals: your mechanic.

Where is that mechanic?If you have a new or certified used SUV under warranty, the mechanic you need may be at your dealership — in some cases, you’ll need to stick with the dealership in order to maintain your warranty. In other cases, you may be free to choose. If you can pick any mechanic, take the time to do your research. Read reviews and ask your neighbors — and look for a mechanic who knows SUVs well. A mechanic who knows your make and model of SUV through and through is your best bet.

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Caring for an SUV