Preventing defects and reducing the frequency and cost of repairs

19. May 2024 | Industry + More

Repairs to motor vehicles are becoming less frequent, at least when it comes to wearing parts. For example, the statistical frequency of repairs per car fell to 0.39 last year. Four years ago, this figure was still over 0.5. There are three main reasons for this. Components such as timing belts, brake pads and clutches have become more durable. In addition, the willingness to invest has fallen, as has the overall mileage. But what can drivers do to prevent vehicle defects and reduce their repair costs at the same time?

Just a few independent and routine vehicle checks can help prevent expensive secondary damage. In most cases, a simple visual inspection is sufficient. This is also advised by GTÜ (Gesellschaft für Technische Überwachung mbH) and recommended for modern vehicles. The checklist provided by GTÜ can also help.

Tips for regular checks of your own vehicle

Check fluids regularly

Drivers can regularly check the filling levels of their fluids. This includes the coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Of course, it is also very important to check the oil level. All fluids should be between the MIN and MAX markings and neither above nor below them. The car should obviously be parked on a level surface if possible. If there are any unusual losses, you should look for a potential leak.

Indispensable: a regular tyre check

The next step is to check your tyres regularly. The air pressure should be checked every fortnight if possible. This is also advisable if the vehicle has a particularly heavy load. In addition to air pressure, the age and tread depth of the tyres are also important. There are no specific regulations regarding age, but it is recommended that tyres are changed after six to eight years, or earlier if they are damaged. The minimum tread depth is 1.6 millimetres for summer tyres and 4 millimetres for winter tyres. Here too, the rule is: the more, the better.

Vehicle lighting function check

Of course, the entire vehicle lighting system must also function properly. In modern vehicles, a control lamp usually indicates that something is wrong with the vehicle lighting. In older vehicles, the only option is to check it yourself.

Check the condition of the car battery

The service life of car batteries varies greatly and also depends on how much they are used. If you often only drive short distances, you should expect the battery's performance to deteriorate more quickly. Modern vehicle equipment such as air conditioning, seat heating and automatic start-stop systems can also put additional strain on the battery. But how does a weak battery become noticeable? One possible indication is that the starter motor cranks audibly slower. A garage can also test the condition of the battery with an appropriate measuring device.

Take maintenance intervals seriously

Maintenance intervals must be taken seriously and adhered to in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. If they are not adhered to, this can lead to a maintenance backlog, which in turn can lead to a build-up of faults, defects and signs of wear and jeopardise your own safety. Of course, the maintenance intervals also depend on the vehicle's own mileage. By adhering to the maintenance intervals, you also prevent possible major damage.


It remains to be seen whether the frequency of repairs will continue to fall. This also depends on electric cars, as we might expect their higher weight to result in greater wear on the chassis. Software issues could also become more significant in the future. These tend to occur in younger vehicles in particular. Infotainment, connectivity and assistance systems come to mind here.