When you first purchase a car, you might think that car payments and auto insurance are your main expenses for staying on the road. However, you’ll soon find that your car needs regular maintenance if you want it to stay in good condition and retain its value. While it may seem expensive, maintenance is much cheaper than the repairs you will have to make if your car starts breaking down. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
There are a variety of ways that you can save money on car maintenance over your driving career. If you take the time to do the research on your specific vehicle, you can avoid unnecessary over-maintenance and upsells by mechanics. With the help of this guide and your car’s unique owner’s manual, you can keep your car properly maintained at a more affordable price.
Use Your Vehicle’s Manual and Avoid Over-Maintaining
The most important rule for saving money is to follow the maintenance instructions in your vehicle’s user manual. Most manuals come with a schedule that will specify when, either by miles or by time, you should perform each aspect of maintaining your car. You should always refer to this manual when performing maintenance on your vehicle in order to avoid over-maintaining. For example, your user’s manual might say that you should get an oil change every six months or 5,000 miles (whichever comes first). Getting an oil change any earlier is unnecessary and can end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
Comparison Shop at Other Auto Mechanic Shops
Shopping around is one of the easiest ways to save money when you are maintaining your vehicle. Avoid the service departments of dealerships because they often charge more than independent mechanics or quick-change oil centers. Once you know what services you need for your vehicle, call a few other shops and see how much they are charging for the same work. Oftentimes, the savings are well worth driving to a different shop.
Don’t Always Agree to Extra Work
Auto mechanical service is a business, so it’s only natural for technicians to try to make as much money as possible. Like many other businesses, mechanic shops will often try to upsell you with unnecessary repairs and replacements. Some common upsells include transmission and engine flushes, replacing air filters and windshield wipers and cleaning and adjusting brakes. Always refer to your car’s user manual to see when the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends certain services.
Get Your Hands Dirty and Do It Yourself
While this may not be the easiest money-saving method, the potential savings are definitely worth it. Plenty of regular maintenance procedures like replacing air filters and oil changes can be performed at home if you purchase the necessary parts and tools. Once you buy an oil-filter wrench, you can change your oil by yourself and save hundreds on regular maintenance. Cabin air filters can be replaced in about 10 minutes and require no tools. You can find tutorials for most basic car maintenance procedures on YouTube if you are having trouble using only your user’s manual. The feeling of popping the hood maintaining your own car will have you feeling like an independent backyard mechanic while saving you tons of money.