Difference Between Auto Maintenance & Auto Repair

By: | Updated: Apr-25, 2023
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As a vehicle owner, you must understand the difference between auto maintenance and auto repair to maintain your vehicle’s longevity and its resale value. While both repair and maintenance are crucial to ensure the smooth running of your automobile, people tend to often confuse one with the other which may both cause owners to end up spending a lot more than they should have and leaving their car at the repair shop for longer than they ought to. Given below are detailed descriptions of both auto maintenance and auto repair, and a summary of their main differences.

What is auto maintenance?

Auto maintenance is essentially a broad term that covers all regular maintenance works you may undertake for your vehicle in addition to preventive measures. Flushing your vehicle’s transmission, changing oils, tire pressure checks, tire rotations, and other inspections are included in auto maintenance. While these measures don’t necessarily fix anything in your vehicle, they prevent any part or procedure from getting damaged in the long run.

Some of the common maintenance tasks that you may incur in your vehicle include checking oil and coolant levels, checking tire pressure, checking the air filters, waxing your vehicle, ensuring that all lights are in order, rotating tires, and changing transmission fluids and checking the spark plugs.

What is meant by auto repair?

Auto repair refers to getting anything broken or damaged in your vehicle fixed. For instance, stagnant engines, failed spark plugs, failed brakes, or broken belts are all vehicle issues that require auto repair from a certified technician or automotive mechanic. If you do not have auto repair functions performed on your car, you wouldn’t be able to ride your car anytime soon, and continuing to use it without addressing concerns would simply prolong the issue and further ruin your vehicle’s health.

Some of the common car repair jobs you may incur every year include replacing oil filters, changing windshield wipers, replacing tires, replacing batteries, repairing brakes, replacing spark plugs, and changing fuel caps.

What are the main differences between the two?

There exist several differences between auto maintenance and auto repair, and most of them are detailed below:

1.     One can be DIY the other requires professionals

While you may be able to navigate your way through basic vehicle maintenance tasks such as oil changes and tire pressure checks, you will most definitely require professional assistance for most auto repair tasks. You may be able to perform basic auto maintenance tasks from the comfort of your home garage or a DIY service shop but will have to visit the local ASE-certified mechanic for repair jobs. For minor repair jobs, you may be able to follow DIY Repair Manuals and complete them yourself.

2.     Failure to complete one leads to the other

While your car may require repairs or breakdown for other reasons as well, failing to perform regular car maintenance is one of the top reasons for cars breaking down. If you fail to engage in regular and scheduled maintenance tasks for your vehicle, it is likely to break down more in comparison to other vehicles that have scheduled maintenance complete.

3.     Maintenance is regular and repairs are as needed

In the timeline of your vehicle’s life, maintenance occurs regularly in interval schedules, whereas repairs happen as and when needed. For instance, on average, a car requires an oil change every 4000 miles and a tire check every month. However, a vehicle may require a change of brakes, which qualifies as a repair, whenever its brakes stop functioning properly.

4.     One is preventive and the other is remedial

While auto maintenance is preventive, auto repair is remedial. Auto maintenance prevents your vehicle from incurring problems and auto repair solves any problems that your vehicle may incur. Maintenance is crucial to your vehicle’s long life whereas repair is important to make your car run in the first place. For instance, by engaging in tire rotation every six months you’d be performing auto maintenance, hence preventing your car’s tires from bursting in the middle of the road.

5.     Maintenance is cheap and repairs are expensive

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that maintenance is cheaper in comparison to repair. For instance, the average annual cost associated with corrective maintenance of a brand new car amounts to US$ 500, whereas the average cost of a one-time visit to auto repair amounts to US$ 450. Additionally, failure to maintain your vehicle may result in you visiting the auto repair shop an average of 5 times during the year, and hence repair costs would significantly pile up.


While both auto maintenance and auto repair are crucial to the smooth running of your vehicle, it is important that as a vehicle owner you recognize the difference between the two. You should be familiar with all pertaining tasks and create maintenance schedules for your vehicle that you follow religiously. Doing so would prevent the onset of any unannounced and surprising repair jobs that catch you off guard in the middle of the road.

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