Keeping your car in working order can put the squeeze on your wallet. If you take a few simple steps every month to keep up on the maintenance of your car, you could end up saving some serious cash. Sometimes going to the mechanic is unavoidable, but if you go in armed with knowledge and some useful tips you might be able to walk away with a less of an expense.
Here are a few tips to reduce your repair costs and keep your car running longer:
1. Check Tire Pressure Once a Month: Making sure your tires are properly inflated can save money on gas, extend the life of your tires and keep you safe. Low tire pressure can affect breaking, cornering and stability.
2. Change the Oil: This is critical to the maintenance of your engine. Oil is what keeps the car running smoothly. If you’re not changing your oil regularly the engine can acquire “Gunk” buildup, making it difficult for engine parts to function. The harder the parts have to work the more heat they create and heat can be damaging to the engine. If you mechanically inclined, you can also save money by changing the oil yourself.
3. Follow the Maintenance Schedule: In your car manual should be a schedule to have your car checked at certain mile markers i.e., 10,000 miles, 50,000 miles, etc. On most cars the maintenance light will come on as well – alerting to get you oil changed or have the car serviced for other things, such as rotating the tires.
4. Listen to Your Car: If your car starts making a noise that doesn’t sound right, trust your instincts and have the problem looked at right away. Waiting can cause more damage. Not to mention it might a sign of a something that can put you in danger while driving.
5. Lower your Insurance: If your driving an older car that you would consider replacing, drop your collision coverage. This can save a considerable amount of money. However weigh the risk. If you are in a collision, any repairs will not be covered. Talk to your insurance agent for help in making this decision.
If you do have to go the mechanic, here are some ways to save money:
6. Avoid the Dealership: Most people believe they have an obligation to go to actual car dealers to get the best service on their cars, but the dealers often overcharge. An independent repair shop or specialized chain, such as Firestone, can usually offer lower prices and sometimes better service. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
7. Shop for Parts: Auto shops need to mark up the price for replacement parts. If you know what parts are needed to repair your, you can see about getting the parts yourslef and bringing them to the mechanic. Then you are just paying for labor at the service shop.
8. Buying Tires: Try to buy your tires at a shop that offers lifetime rotations, balance and tire pressure checks. These are small expenses that can add up over the lifetime of your tires. Some tire dealers even offer a lifetime replacement guarantee. Shop around.
9. Knowledge is Power: Ask questions. Stay informed. If you’re not sure what the mechanic is recommending ask questions until you have a clear understanding of the problem. Knowing exactly what you are paying for can put your mind at ease and more cash in your wallet.