For any car owner you already know that the price you pay to drive your car off the lot is only the beginning. It can seem almost immediate when you have to start paying for maintenance and repairs. With fluctuating gas prices or unforeseen accidents you can never be too sure how much your car will cost you this month. One thing is for sure, there is always an opportunity to save on car maintenance costs. We’ve compiled a list of a few small ways to make a big impact on automotive repair savings.
Pick an Auto Shop and Stick with Them
It’s amazing what a little bit of trust can save you money over time. Don’t be afraid to branch away from the dealership where you bought your car. They often push services you don’t need at costs you can’t necessarily afford. Ask your friends and neighbors which local auto body shop they take their cars to and how satisfied they are with the work. Once you choose a place to go, get to know the mechanics and the shop owner by name. You’ll see the more often you take your car to the same people, the more they will recognize you, your vehicle and your needs. As time goes by they will stand by you the way you have stood by them. They might even make house calls! Finding a committed resource for automotive and auto body repairs pays off as the relationship builds.
Give Your Car a Monthly Check-Up
Get to know your car personally, inside and out. Each month you should check the power steering, radiator fluids, automatic transmission fluid, brake and clutch fluids to make sure everything is at the proper standing. Replacement fluids for your car are pocket change compared to the amount of money you will have to fork up to replace a broken part due to low fluid levels.
Remember to include your air filter in your monthly check. Your air filter directly affects gas mileage and engine performance. Take it out and make sure it’s clean. If you don’t want to buy a new filter every time it gets dirty, use and air hose to blow the dirt away.
Follow the Manual for an Oil-Change and Maintenance Schedule
The car fanatic in your family probably told you to make sure you get your oil changed every 3,000 miles (and the sticker in your window conveniently placed in the upper left-hand corner of your windshield usually confirms that). Fortunately, cars today are being built stronger and better than the cars of the past. Be sure to review your Car Owner’s Manual for the exact make and model of your car. There should be a recommended maintenance schedule inside. Most new cars can go much farther than 3,000 miles before needing a change in oil. You could save up to $100 a year by cutting out unnecessary oil changes.
Switch It Up (Rotate the Tires)
About once a year you should have your tires rotated and balanced. Unbalanced tires can cause premature wear on the tread, wear down the shock absorbers on your vehicle and wreak havoc your suspension system. When you buy new tires for your vehicles many shops will offer free rotation services as long as you have the vehicle.
More often than that, be sure to check your tire pressure. Proper tire inflation is imperative. With well-balanced and inflated tires to keep your car moving along you can count on better gas mileage and a safer ride.
Avoid Short Trips – Run All Your Errands at Once
Starting up your car just to change parking spots wears down on your vehicle. Your engine uses the hot fuel to and combustion to get moving. When you don’t allow your motor to properly heat up, the oil starts to become sludge that collects in the bottom of your engine instead of properly coating the system as it moves along. Shorts trips also eat right through your gas mileage. When you are about to fire up the car, try to put many trips together: Knock out a few errands and spend the day running around town. Allow your car to feel the burn of a smooth running engine.
Use the Right Gas
Use regular gas unless your car manual instructs you otherwise. Most cars show little to no benefit to premium grade fuel. Even older cars can often be upgraded to accept normal fuel. You may find that you lose a bit of gas mileage in an older car when you downgrade your fuel level but the amount of money saved makes the switch worth it. The only exception is if you have a turbo-charge vehicle that needs special high-grade fuel. Yet a car that is designed to take in regular grade gas won’t perform any better with more expensive fuel.
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