With gas prices high and household
budgets crunched as never before, vehicles often get the short end of the stick
when it comes to upkeep. The estimated annual
cost of routine auto maintenance runs about $1,200, depending on the make and
year of your vehicle. That’s a
substantial chunk of change for most people, but the good news is that there
are ways to pare down the cost of maintenance.
Here are a few tips for keeping come extra bucks in your wallet:
Find a repair shop or mechanic
that you trust and stick with them – it will save you money over time. Taking your vehicle to whoever is offering a
discount on tune-ups or brake jobs can cost you big bucks in the long-run. Mechanics want to keep loyal customers and
will usually go the extra mile to hang on to your business. Plus, they’re less likely to perform
unnecessary service or overcharge you if you’ve built up a relationship with them.
The dictum that you must change
your oil every 3,000 miles isn’t written in stone. In fact, many experts now say that you can go
5,000 or more miles between oil changes without doing any harm to your engine.
Follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations about oil changes, but remember
that going an extra 500 miles over the recommended amount isn’t going to make
much of a difference.
Consolidate many short trips into
fewer long ones. This saves on gas, but
it will also save you money on repairs. Most of the wear to your vehicle occurs
when your engine is cold, because the oil hasn’t started circulating around the
moving parts yet. Another damage factor is condensation in your engine from
combustion. If you start your car and
drive only a couple of blocks to the store or a neighbor’s house, the engine won’t
heat up enough to evaporate the condensation or circulate oil. This wears on
your engine. It’s not a problem if it only occurs occasionally, but making a
habit of it will cause problems and result in subsequent repairs.
Save money on tires. The big box stores sell most brands of tires,
usually for a lot less than regular tire stores. They’ll also install them for
you and often include free flat repair, balancing and rotation. They don’t stock as many sizes as a tire
store, but most will order them for you if they don’t have your size. Check them out before you pay a higher price
Following these simple tips can
save you on maintenance expense, and that can add up to big dollars over time.