Vehicle owners who have neglected to take care of their cars with standard preventive maintenance are far too common in our line of work. After decades of being behind the service counter, as well as under the hood, I do get a bit frustrated that people won’t do any preventive maintenance, or neglect to tell me about an intermittent problem they’ve had forever because they feel it has nothing to do with the problem for which they brought their vehicle into the shop. Information is the key when it comes to just about any subject, and preventive maintenance can lead to a lot of information, which is by far the cheapest and best way to prevent even larger problems down the line.
I found out first hand that preventive maintenance doesn’t just apply to the family car. Your internal engine needs some maintenance once in a while, too. Neglecting the early signs of an intermittent problem with a car is not nearly as costly as neglecting your body’s advanced warnings of a serious issue. I found that out the hard way when I suffered a heart attack two months ago.
Hardly a car will make it its entire life without clogging of the EGR passages, blocking of the VVT ports or suffering from reduced airflow caused by a dirty air filter. The problem is that I, the mechanic, didn’t have a check engine light to forewarn me of my impending doom. I ignored all the symptoms, instead waiting until the pain was so great that I was brought to the floor clenching my favorite ratchet to my chest, thinking that I was about to cash in on that lifetime warranty I thought I had. Apparently, age and time, diet, stress and my family medical history did me in until I thought I was going to throw a rod once and for all.
As I was being wheeled down the hospital hallways on the gurney, watching the neon lights zip by on my way into triage, I couldn’t help but remember all the times my wife and kids harped at me to take better care of myself with a little preventive maintenance. Unfortunately, life, and my own stubbornness, sometimes got in the way.
After my ordeal, my message to you is this: If you’re one of those guys who pushes himself all day and night, works from sun up to sun down, and tells the wife that your job comes first and you’ll go on that big vacation when you retire, you are just fooling yourself and your family. You should never be too busy to take care of yourself or what is most important in your life.
As mechanics, we’re taught to be able to fix everything. The problem is that you can’t be the fixer in every situation outside the garage. There are other people out there who are just as professional in their field as you are in yours — whether it’s a doctor, therapist or just those close to you who know you best. Hopefully, you’ll get a second chance as I’ve been given. Don’t waste it consumed in your little world, working until you die. The customer cars will wait. Follow your body’s PM schedule, and you’ll get to live a little more — it’s your choice.