Simple Car Maintenance Tips to Save Money on Future Repairs
Anyone who owns a car knows that they can be both a huge blessing and a major curse. One of the biggest pains of car ownership is having to deal with necessary repairs on the vehicle. Depending on your warranty coverage, the price tag on those repairs can be pretty steep. However, there are some simple but key maintenance tips that you can follow to save money and time on repairs in the future.
This tip is pretty simple but needs to be said. Driving responsibly on the road instead of speeding and swerving through lanes can help to avoid minor or major car accidents. Keeping your eyes on the road and enough space between the car in front of you will also assist in your reaction time to any mishaps around you.
Learn Basic Car Maintenance
Taking some time to learn basic car maintenance can help you to cut down on repair costs. Study your owner's manual to understand how your car works and conduct periodic inspections. While you should trust a mechanic for some car repairs, certain things can be done right at home.
Consider Car Reliability
You should choose a reliable car right from the beginning to avoid major issues later. Knowing a car's reliability on the road determines the likelihood of unforeseen repairs and how severe they might be. There are many tools out there that estimate the annual cost of servicing and maintaining various models.
Know Your Warranty
While you need a car insurance policy as the owner of a vehicle, understanding your car's warranty is also helpful if it’s a relatively new vehicle. This contract with your car's manufacturer can help you to avoid making the wrong choices when it comes to maintenance that could void the warranty altogether.
Find a Reliable Mechanic
Finding a trustworthy auto mechanic is essential when it comes to properly repairing your car. Someone who isn’t as experienced or doesn’t have the proper training could attempt to fix your car and end up making the problems worse in the long run. Even if they are competent, not every mechanic is necessarily honest about what repairs are needed.
Bypass the Dealership
You might be tempted to go to a dealership for every little repair. If your car is still under warranty, then a dealer might perform different repairs for free. However, if it’s not, it’s likely that you’ll have to pay much more than if you go to a local car shop.
Get Gas Long Before Your Tank Runs Low
One big thing that people do is hold off on getting gas until the last possible moment. It's understandable with the unpredictable price of gas these days. However, that can be an issue for your car in the long run.
Get a Vehicle History Report
When shopping for a used car, you have no idea what happened to that car in the past unless you get the proper information. A vehicle history report is a must when buying any used vehicle. Requesting one can help you to steer clear of any cars that may give you trouble in the future.
Shop For Good (or Better) Insurance
A key factor in car repairs is insurance. When shopping for a car, you ought to keep insurance premiums in mind. The make and model of your desired car and even the color can impact insurance costs and what will be covered at the shop.
Follow a Regular Maintenance Schedule
Since it's better to be proactive than reactive, car manufacturers suggest that owners follow a regular maintenance schedule for their cars. The schedule recommended is a 30-60-90 schedule based on different parts and systems needing to be inspected at 30,000-, 60,000, and 90,000-mile intervals respectively.
Check Your Spark Plugs
Issues with spark plugs are one of the most common reasons for engine trouble. Problems that can come with bad spark plugs include slow acceleration, loss of power, engine misfires and difficulty starting the car. They should be checked and changed about every 30,000 miles.
Wash Your Car Frequently
Washing your car regularly, even in the winter, will have your car looking cleaner and shinier. However, keeping a clean car is about more than just appearance. Clean cars also save money in the long run.
Get Regular Oil Changes
Getting regular oil changes, either by yourself or at the shop, is one of the key ways to save money on unnecessary repairs. It can be a hassle, especially if you have to wait for a mechanic, but it's vital.
Don’t Over Oil
Though it’s important to change your oil regularly, you should avoid using too much oil. No more than a quart of oil is needed. Oil reservoirs are designed to hold a little extra oil, but more can lead to extensive engine damage.
Don’t Ignore Strange Sounds
When you hear strange noises on the road, it may be tempting to ignore them and keep driving. However, those noises are signs that there could be something seriously wrong. Getting things checked out as soon as possible could help you save money on repairs.
Experts say that warming up your car in the mornings, especially in the winter, doesn't help your cause. The engine actually warms up faster by being driven. Most manufacturers recommend driving your car slowly 30 seconds after starting it.
Check Your Coolant
Checking the coolant may be something that many car owners don’t think about so much. Changing your coolant twice a year (once before warm weather hits and again before cold weather comes) is crucial to the life of your car. The coolant affects not only your heater and air conditioner, but also your radiator and water pump.
Keep Your Tires Inflated
Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure for your car can help save money on tires and gas. You can improve gas mileage by 3.3 percent by doing that, according to research from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Change Oil and Air Filters
It can be easy to forget about changing the oil and air filters in your car. When it comes to your oil filter, it should be changed alongside your actual oil, which could be at 3,000 miles or maybe longer. Not changing the filter can lead to overheating in the engine, low oil pressure and weak performance.
Stop Braking Hard
While out on the road, drivers may slam on the brakes to avoid running a light or hitting another car. However, doing so can cause you to lose control of the vehicle and get into an accident. It also reduces gas mileage and wears on your tires.
Rotate Your Tires
A simple rotation of your tires every 3,000 to 5,000 miles can easily help you save a lot of money at the auto shop. All four tires on your car wear down at different rates depending on the car, your speed and the roads you drive on.
Check Your Spare Tire
Just like you keep your four normal tires inflated, it’s just as important to keep your spare tire at the right pressure. People sometimes forget that this tire must be inflated as well. If one of your tires goes flat and your spare is down too, you’ll be out of luck.
Properly Using Premium Gas
People spend extra money on premium gas thinking that it will be great for their cars. Honestly, unless your owner’s manual suggests it, you don’t need to waste your money on premium gas. It costs 10% to 15% higher than regular gas.
Check Fluid Levels
You should check the fluid levels in your car. Your power steering and radiator fluids should be topped off with every oil change. Also, be sure to look at your automatic transmission, brake and clutch fluids.
Get New Windshield Wipers
This may seem like a small thing, but replacing your windshield wipers is a must. Quality wipers cost anywhere from $30 to $50 for the pair. You want to make sure that the windshield is clear of any rain or dirt that can obstruct your view while driving.
Check the Suspension System
Many car owners rarely think about the maintenance required for the suspension systems in their vehicles. That includes the shocks, springs and struts. All of that should be checked every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.
Get Your Car Inspected
Depending on your state or county, you may be required to pass a state emissions inspection. Even if it’s not required, however,you should still consider getting one done once a year.
Buy Your Own Parts
A major tip in saving money on vehicle repairs is buying your own parts for repairs that you need. Mechanic shops often charge high prices for parts that you can buy yourself at a local store like Auto Zone or Advance Auto Parts or even online through Amazon.
Look for Discounts
Everyone loves a good deal on premium services, especially when it comes to car repairs or maintenance. Even with insurance, unexpected car repairs can just about break the bank. Luckily, many shops offer coupons, bundles or limited-time deals to help drive more business.
Decline Add-On Services Offered
Even though mechanics work on cars, they are also, in a sense, salespeople. They might recommend extra add-on services like engine and transmission flushes or scheduling some maintenance prematurely. This adds on more time and labor to the final bill.