Your car's owner's manual lists a number of maintenance items you should do periodically to keep your car running well. What it doesn't tell you is that you'll deal with some expensive auto repairs if you don't do them. Here is a list of the most common auto maintenance items and why doing them keep money in your pocket.

1. Oil Changes

Most people know that changing the oil and oil filter periodically is necessary to keep your car running. Your owner's manual tells you how long you can wait between oil changes. If you slip past it a few hundred miles, no harm. But if you wait too long, especially in hot climates, you'll risk having some major engine repair.

The oil in your car lubricates the metal surfaces that slide against each other. For example, a thin sheet of oil is all that prevents the pistons from rubbing directly against the cylinder walls. The oil also helps to distribute the heat produced by the moving parts in your engine, cooling it down.

Oil breaks down over time and loses its viscosity. The thinner the oil is, the less lubrication and cooling effect it has. If you have an older car with small oil leaks, you can lose oil volume and have even less engine protection. If you don't have the correct amount of oil in your car, and the oil is old and thin, heat will build up in the engine. The result can be a cracked cylinder head, warped cylinder walls, and broken piston rings, all very expensive repair jobs. This is easily prevented by regular oil changes.

2. Brake Inspection

Brakes work because the brake pads push against a metal disc or drum to make the car slow down. Your brake pads can be made of rubber, ceramic, glass or metal. Each time they press against the disc or drum, they wear down a tiny bit. Eventually they wear down enough to decrease their effectiveness, and that's when it's time to have your brakes inspected and the pads changed.

Your car may have a sensor light that tells you when it's time to check the brakes. Or you'll hear a shrill screeching sound as the brake pad level sensor rubs against the disc to tell you your brakes are worn. If you continue to drive and wear down the pads, you'll begin to feel a vibration in the brake pedal.

You may also start hearing a loud metal-on-metal scraping sound as the metal in your brake pads rubs against your disc or drum, creating a groove in that metal surface. To fix this, the auto repair shop has to grind the surface to smooth it out. Or you may have to buy new surfaces, which are expensive. Brake pads are cheap compared to replacing these brake surfaces so don't ignore the warnings that your brake pads are wearing down.

3. Tire Pressure

A good habit to get into is to check your tire pressure each time you fill up or head out on a long drive. Stamped on the side of your tires is the recommended air pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI). The amount of air in a tire determines how much of the tread rests on the road surface. The manufacturer designed the tire to have just the right amount of contact with the road. Too little or too much can damage the tire.

Too much air in the tire stresses the layers of materials that make up the tire. If you hit a pothole with an over-inflated tire, more stress is placed on the materials and they can separate, causing a blowout. Too little air in a tire makes more of the tread rest on the road. This causes heat build up in the tire and also flexes the layers beyond their ideal limits. The heat and stress of flexing can break the sidewall causing the tire to fail. Simply keeping the right amount of air in your tires will keep you from buying one or more expensive new tires.

Be sure to visit a shop like Cadwalader Service Centre, Inc. regularly to have your car checked out and maintained.