Top Ten Ways to Save Money on Car Maintenance
Having to spend money on car repair and maintenance is a fact of daily life, but there are many ways to minimize the amounts you spend. Many unexpected, and expensive car repair procedures are easy to avoid, and by following the few simple tips outlined here, which does not take more than a few minutes once a week, you can save a ton of money over the life of your car.
Keep to the Servicing Schedule
Keeping to the service and maintenance schedule is without any doubt the most effective way to keep maintenance costs down, and to avoid massive repair bills that result from neglected service items such as timing belts, fuel filters, wheel bearings, brake parts, and many others.
The servicing schedule for your car was developed for the sole purpose of keeping your car in a safe, reliable, and trustworthy condition for as long as possible, at the lowest possible cost. Skipping on regular servicing might save you some money in the short term, which is a foolish economy because at some point, a lot of things will start to go wrong all at the same time, which could cost you several times more to repair than the regular servicing would be done.
However, scheduled services are typically far apart, and the demands of modern driving conditions are such that anything on your car can go wrong in the intervals between services, which are why you should do the following if you are serious about wanting to eliminate unexpected and unnecessary repair bills:
Do Weekly Checks
By performing weekly health checks on your car, you can pick up small problems before they turn into big, expensive ones. Below is a list of items that can save you money if you check them regularly:
• Check Oil Level:
By monitoring the oil level, you will immediately notice if oil consumption has increased. This can happen for many reasons, such as leaks, excessive mechanical wear of the engine, faults in the emission control system, and others, such as a defective turbo charger. All of these problems can lead to expensive repairs, but ignoring them will cost you more when the engine fails because of a lack of lubrication.
• Check Engine Coolant Level:
Not all coolant leaks are always visible, but all coolant leaks cause a loss of coolant, which could lead to engine overheating, and possibly engine failure, which is very expensive to repair. Any loss of coolant must be investigated immediately, but if you do not check the coolant level at least once per week, you may not be aware of problems that could be fixed cheaply the moment you discover them. Any coolant loss could potentially destroy your engine, so do not ignore the signs.
• Check the Brake Fluid Level:
As with coolant leaks, some leaks in the brake system may not be immediately visible. However, all brake fluid leaks are dangerous, and the only reliable remedy is replacement of the defective parts. If you do not check the brake fluid regularly, you may run out of brake fluid, which will cause brake failure, but if you notice a drop in the level of the brake fluid in time, it may be possible to fix the problem cheaply by merely replacing the defective part, instead of having to replace an entire car because it ended up in a ditch because of brake failure.
• Maintain Correct Tire Pressure:
Incorrectly inflated tires causes rapid, and uneven tire wear, which means that you will have to replace the tires more often than you have to. Under inflated tires also increases fuel consumption, so be sure to check the tire pressure at least once a week when the tires are cold.
Tire pressure information can be found in your user manual, or on stickers inside the car. D NOT inflate the tires to the pressures indicted on the tire sidewall- this is the MAXIMUM pressure a tire can be inflated to, which pressure is too high for normal driving conditions.
• Maintain Wheel Alignment:
Misalignment does not only cause uneven and rapid tire wear, thus increasing maintenance costs, it also increases fuel consumption, which increases daily running costs. Moreover, misaligned wheels places added strains on steering and suspension components, which mean that you may have to replace several expensive components prematurely.
• Replace Transmission Fluid:
After engine overheating, transmission failure is the most common problem in cars the world over. Transmission fluid has a finite service life, and exceeding the limits can cause several transmission problems such as harsh, erratic, or unpredictable shifting. Sometimes these problems can be cured by replacing the fluid, but not always.
These types of problems can damage a transmission beyond repair, so the better option is to replace the transmission fluid once per year. The small amount you spend doing this pales in comparison with repairing or replacing a transmission; in this case, the small added cost can save you a ton of money, since you will be avoiding transmission problems altogether.
• Check Wiper Blades:
Hard, cracked, or otherwise damaged wiper blades do not only impair your vision; they also damage your windshield be scratching it. This could cause you to be blinded by oncoming traffic at night, and the only remedy for this is to replace the windshield, which is always an expensive procedure. In contrast, wiper blades are cheap, and by replacing them twice a year, you can save a lot of money on an unnecessary windshield replacement.
One more thing…
If you live in an urban area, and especially an industrialized area, keep your car clean by washing it at least once a week. Airborne, industrial pollutants are acidic, which means that it will eat through the paint work via scratches and chips that you may not be able to see, and once corrosion has set in as a result, it may be impossible to eradicate.
There is little point in keeping your car in peak mechanical condition if the body work is riddled with rust and corrosion, so avoid diminishing the resale value of your car by keeping it clean.