For most people, spending time and money taking of the family vehicle is fairly low on the list of daily priorities. Not keeping up with car maintenance, however, can cost a person hundreds or even thousands of dollars in maintenance costs, not to mention the time taken off work and Fortunately, there are some ways to save time and money and help ensure that your car lasts longer if you’re willing to make a few changes to your routine.
Start by keeping up with regular car maintenance. Each car has an owner’s manual with a schedule of when to take your car in for routine maintenance such as tire rotation, oil changes, and fluid refills. While dealerships will charge several hundred dollars to do these things as part of a maintenance package, odds are you can do most of them yourself for fairly cheap. For the remaining procedures, ask a local mechanic what he or she would charge.
For example, think about a routine maintenance procedure like tire rotation. Doing this makes the tires last longer because it allows the tires to wear out evenly, essentially adding a thousands more miles to the life of your tires. At a dealership, this can cost around $60. All that this service is, however, is taking the tires off the car and moving them around the car so that the front tires end up in the back, and vice-versa. Save some money by doing this yourself or with a friend in an afternoon. It will probably take about two hours, and is the work equivalent of changing four flat tires. To save some time and effort, see if your area has a public auto shop with a car lift. While you’re changing the tires, be sure to check the air pressure, and use an air machine to inflate them if needed.
Also be sure to change and refill the fluids in your car on a regular basis. This will typically cost between $40 and $200 at a mechanic shop depending on the fluids that need to be changed, but fortunately this is probably one of the easiest things to do yourself. Make sure you have enough anti-freeze, windshield washing fluid and engine coolant every time you change your car’s oil. These fluids are essential to extending the life of everything from your windshield wipers to your engine.
Your car needs an oil change at least once a year, even if you haven’t put enough miles on the car to meet the standards required by your car’s manufacturer on when to change the oil. Learn to do this service yourself, or look for specials on this service at your local automotive mechanic’s shop in order to save money. All of the other fluids can be purchased fairly cheaply from your local auto parts store, and replacing them requires you to take off the cap and pour.
The best thing you can do to maintain the longevity of your car, however, it to treat it well. Accelerating quickly and slamming the brakes will do the most damage to a vehicle. Avoid taking your car off road, and keep it protected from extreme temperature by housing it in a garage whenever possible.
While it can be tempting to try to do everything on your vehicle by yourself, it’s generally a good idea to visit a professional mechanic when a larger maintenance issue does come up. Doing a repair that you have no experience with can result in you further damaging the car. Of course, know exactly what your car needs before visiting the shop, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with the mechanic to get a good deal.