With the costs of gas and regular maintenance skyrocketing over the past couple of years, owning a car is more expensive than ever before. In addition, breakdowns and mechanical problems are inevitable – eventually you’re going to need repairs. So what if you’re on a tight budget? With a little planning and some well-timed ingenuity, you can keep your car running smoothly without breaking the bank. Below I’ll outline some steps car owners can take to protect their wallets.
Do what you can at home
There are lots of simple things you can do on your own with minimal effort. For example, you can change your air filter, PCV valve or your windshield wiper blades yourself with just a few minutes of work, and you probably won’t even need any tools. Checking and replacing fluids like antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid is something a mechanic will charge you for, even though you can do it yourself with ease. With a little research, planning and the right tools, you can even take care of more complex maintenance like changing your oil or replacing a dying battery. Always search for resources online – you’ll probably be able to find helpful demonstration videos on YouTube or tutorials with detailed instructions and photos.
Less frequent oil changes
Conventional wisdom used to recommend you change your oil every 3,000 miles. But thanks to modern advancements in motor oil, auto manufacturers have recently started to recommend somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 miles instead. Modern oils are much higher quality than they’ve ever been, containing properties that help remove deposits and keep the oil clean and working properly for longer. Learning how to change your oil at home will help you save money lots of money in the long run. Routine maintenance is still important, but you can definitely cut costs by doing part of the job at home and abandoning that old 3,000-mile paradigm.
Always compare prices
It’s extremely important to shop around before you settle on a mechanic. If you need major repairs, most will offer you a free estimate, with detailed information on the expected costs of parts and labor. Prices are not set in stone across the entire industry, and there are many variables that could affect the total cost, so it’s worth getting estimates from multiple places.
Start putting money aside
You could get lucky and find a rare mechanic that will bill you in increments, but most will expect you to pay in full before you can take your car home. If you start putting money aside a little bit at a time, it should offer some relief in the event of an unforeseen mechanical failure. There’s really nothing to lose when it comes to saving money – it’s always there, and even if you don’t end up needing it for car repairs, you’ve still got it for a rainy day or some other financial emergency.
Sounds simple, right? Following these general guidelines will help you manage the costs of maintenance and repairs throughout the life of your vehicle. Just remember to explore all your options and always do your research.
Author bio: Mike Martin is a consultant and blogger in the automotive industry, offering tips, guidance and advice for car enthusiasts and dealers alike. He has done consulting for Dave Cross Motors, one of the premier GMC Dealerships in Kansas City.