While saving on food, toiletries, and other necessities are things that we can plan for, you can’t always plan for your auto needs. These car maintenance tips are sure to keep your budget in check while taking care of your vehicle so that it lasts for many years to come. A vehicle purchase is a huge investment, so you will want to perform small, but regular maintenance so that you aren’t faced with too many unexpected expenses. Taking good care of your car or truck will help extend the life of your vehicle so that you can use your money in other areas of your life. Her are some car maintenance tips to get you going:
Don’t Put Repairs Off Until Later
One of the most costly mistakes that people make in regards to car maintenance is to put off minor repairs until later. A small noise in a wheel bearing can go from a $25 part into a $300 repair if pushed too far. Many people (like me) have a tendency to see that car light pop on – indicating that there’s a problem – and wait for it to go off, assuming that means that the car fixed itself. Unfortunately, that is just never the truth. Instead of waiting too long, attend to all repairs in a timely manner.
Get a Second Opinion
Before you invest in major repairs, make sure to take your car to two or three repair centers for an estimate. Not only will you likely find a cheaper location, but you may find that the originally diagnosed issue isn’t correct. Try local chain repair shops, a dealer or a smaller repair shop for opinions. When it comes to cars, you never know if a shop is beefing up an estimate or giving you a straight amount. Make sure that you do a little research so that you know exactly what needs to happen at a reasonable cost.
Use Any Warranty You Have
If you have purchased a new car, many items are covered under your warranty. Before you spend money out of pocket, consult your warranty to make sure it isn’t already covered. There are also many car dealerships that will include routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations for the first year in your vehicle purchase price. If they don’t make that offer when you are buying a car, ask if they will include it for you. The worst that happens is that they say no.
Have a Used Car Checked
When buying a used car – particularly from an individual and not a business – make sure that you have it checked an okayed by a mechanic. Most of us don’t know what we’re looking for in a car and kicking the tires is just not enough. Typically a used car purchase is an “as is” sale, so when you drive that vehicle away, it is completely yours – with all of the positives and negatives. Make sure that you have set yourself up to know as many negatives as possible before the purchase or it may cost you much more in repairs than you had anticipated.
Do Small Maintenance Yourself
Many small things like oil changes, filter changes, wiper changes and refilling fluids are things you can learn to do safely on your own. Compare the cost of parts ahead of time though, since some things may cost more for you to buy than to use a dealer or repair shop. Oil changes are often priced much lower than the cost of the filter and oil would be for you out of pocket. That said, the filter may not need to be changed every time you change your oil. Check before spending the money to do it yourself. Not handy with cars? Take a look on YouTube to find instructional videos before making the decision.
Use Coupons and Discounts
Many chain repair shops like Midas, NAPA, Western Auto, and Pep Boys offer coupons and discounts for specific things like oil changes, tire rotation and brake jobs. Take a regular search through Groupon before making an appointment or driving over! You can easily save up to 40% off or more just by looking through their Automotive section. It’s also a good idea to take a quick look on Coupons.com, as they often have discounts in specific areas as well. If you are looking to do small maintenance on your own, Advance Auto Parts will give you free in-store pickup and frequently offers discounts through online orders.
Barter for Minor Services
If you have friends that are certified mechanics (or even alley mechanics that you trust), you may be able to barter with them for their services at a lower rate, or in exchange for something you can offer that they need. Think of offering things like babysitting services, home-cooked meals, house cleaning, lawn mowing or anything else that will save you money, but also benefit the other party.
Buy Parts Yourself and Only Pay for Labor
Sometimes you can find parts for minor repairs at a lower rate out of pocket than your repair shop or dealer will charge you. Before having work done, ask for an estimate that includes specific part prices. Check out local auto supply shops or even local junk yards for the best prices.
Get to Know the Little Things
Some maintenance and repair shops will actually offer small services for free as a courtesy. Depending on the restrictions in your city or county, various shops (like Jiffy Lube) may be able to fill up the air in your tires for free. When you have your oil changed, ask if can also wash your car. Ask your local shop if they ever have a discount day or coupons available. You never know what options there are unless you ask!
Hopefully these car maintenance tips are ideas that you can take to the bank. It really is about doing a little bit here and a little bit there rather than paying exactly what is mentioned to you up front by your mechanic. Do you have any other car maintenance tips that will help you save? I’d love to hear them!