The freedom of having a personal vehicle comes with a price tag. In addition to the purchase price, AAA estimates the average cost of owning & operating a car is $8,558 annually. However, there are ways to limit these expenses. Here are eight tips to help you save on maintenance.
- Keep a record—The owner’s manual will tell you how often routine services, such as flushing the transmission or replacing the timing belt, should be done. Then, keep track of what maintenance has been performed to avoid unnecessary or redundant repairs.
- Do it yourself—Some things you can do on your own, even if you’re not mechanically inclined. The air filter, windshield wipers and even some light bulbs are all easy to replace and you won’t pay for labor. You might also consider changing the spark plugs or fuel filter If you’re comfortable with that.
- Watch your oil—It used to be that changing your oil every three months or 3,000 miles was the norm. But with later models and newer, synthetic oils, this isn’t the case. Check the car’s manual to know for sure, but you might not have to go in that often. Nevertheless, you should check your oil & other fluid levels regularly and don’t ignore serious leaks. Otherwise, your engine could seize and you’ll be spending a lot more.
- Check your tires—Those with low air pressure wear down faster than if they’re properly inflated and get worse gas mileage. Gauges aren’t expensive and will let you know if you’re at the right PSI. When the time comes to replace your tires, look for a place that offers free rotation, balancing, and alignment with purchases.
- Clean your battery—To extend its life, clean any corrosion off the terminals—all you need is baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Automotive stores also sell wire brushes specifically for this purpose.
- Do your research—If you encounter a problem, look up online articles & watch YouTube videos. Learn what could be wrong so you feel more confident when you go to a mechanic. Find a shop you trust and don’t be afraid to go somewhere else if you feel they’re taking advantage of you. Compare estimates, find coupons, and seek discounts on parts—some shops will even let you bring in your own that you purchased elsewhere.
- Save on gas—Most cars, especially when you drive them in higher altitudes, don’t need premium fuel. Save with the cheaper option. Also, don’t drive aggressively—sudden acceleration or braking wastes gas. Speaking of unnecessarily burning fuel, combine your errands so you’re not making multiple trips.
- Watch your dashboard—Don’t ignore the warning lights. If the oil, battery or check engine light is on, take it in and see what’s wrong. It could be a faulty sensor, but it might be something much more serious that, if left unchecked, could be extremely costly.
Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid expensive auto repairs. By following the tips above, you’ll extend the life of your car and save money.