An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to preventing hundreds or thousands of dollars of repair work on your car. While some consumers consider trips to an auto mechanic part of the cost of maintaining a car, expensive repairs are often the result of a lack of maintenance. Keep on top of regular, preventive maintenance to keep your car operating costs as low as possible.
Keep an Eye on Your Oil
Replacing your oil regularly is one the most effective ways to reduce your car maintenance costs. Even though your dipstick may tell you the car has enough oil, the older the oil, the less effective it is. This can lead to degradation of or damage to parts that will require an expensive repair.
Check your owner’s manual to learn the recommended mileage for changing your oil. Most auto experts recommend changing your oil every 3,000 miles, but you can change it less frequently if you do not drive your car hard, and much less frequently (about every 7,500 miles) if you have a new car. Adding a can of oil to your car is not enough. Change the oil to remove older oil and replace the oil filter. To further reduce your oil change costs, check the website of local oil-changing services for discounts, or call and ask what day they run specials. Ask about the difference between synthetic and regular oil and which is best for your car.
Check Other Fluids
Fluids are there for a reason. They lubricate important parts, reduce friction and keep your engine cool. This includes fluids for such things as your brakes, radiator, transmission, power steering and window washer. Have your fluids checked each time you have your oil changed, or any time you have work done on your car.
Watch Your Tires
Depending on where you purchase your tires, you may get free, regular rotations. This helps tires wear evenly and prevents you from having to have one more repaired or replaced. Take advantage of this free service to extend the life of your tires. If your tires are wearing unevenly, you may need to have them balanced and aligned. Doing so will also extend the life of your tire. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. The proper tire pressure not only helps extend the life of your tire, but also improves gas mileage. Purchase road hazard protection when you buy new tires to get free repair or replacement when you get a flat.
Keep the Air Filter Clean
Your air filter helps trap dirt particles that can enter your car’s engine and decrease your mileage. Knowing when to change your air filter is tricky, since it depends on the roads you travel and how much dust and dirt you experience. Talk to your mechanic about your driving habits and how often you should change your filter.
Talk to your auto mechanic about when you’ll need to tune up your engine. Engines run differently in winter and summer, and at least one annual tune up will help you keep your engine in top shape and improve your mileage.
Do It Yourself
Many aspects of auto maintenance are surprisingly easy to do your self, often not even requiring a screwdriver. Spend a few hours on the Internet and learn how to do the following: change wiper blades; refill wiper fluid; change the air filter; change lights; change the spark plugs. Changing oil is something you can learn to do, but you’ll need to dispose of used oil properly and the process may not be worth the hassle if you have an inexpensive oil-change service nearby.