Simple Tricks to Save Money on Car Maintenance
Owning a car can be both a blessing and a curse.
You need it to get to work, run errands, visit friends and family. Heck, it may even be fun for you to drive. But maintaining your car can be a burden on your cash flow. According to the AAA’s Your Driving Costs study, car upkeep can cost owners around $8,849 a year. (This is assuming you drive around 15,000 miles per year, which amounts to roughly 58 cents every mile driven.)
Don’t take out your pitchforks just yet frugal lovers. There’s still plenty you can do yourself in order to save money on car maintenance. Let’s get those proverbial hands dirty and learn what you can do to save some serious bucks.
Wash Your Car
No really. Washing your car can extend its life by removing residues and general yuckiness that can eat through the finish. It also gives you an opportunity to inspect your car to see if there are any scratches or other dings you need to fix. If you wash your own car, make sure to use a cleaning solution meant for car finishes, including car wax.
Cleaning your car’s interior is much cheaper than taking it to get detailed. To keep the interior spick and span, consider purchasing car seat covers — you can rip them off and throw them in the wash. Otherwise, buy inexpensive cleaners and fabric protectors at a big box store or online. (Again, make sure the products are compatible with the materials in your car.)
Don’t Bother With Premium Gas
This isn’t technically only about your car maintenance, but you can save money on gas by sticking to the less expensive options — most cars will be fine. That is unless your car has a high-performance engine and the manufacturer recommends otherwise. Older cars that have engines that aren’t in the greatest condition may want to consider using a higher octane gas, as well.
DIY Easy Repairs
Don’t worry, you don’t need to shell out cash to a handyman or mechanic for every repair. Here are a few easy places you can save money by doing it yourself.
- Air Filter Cleaning: Every month, check your car’s air filter. You can clean it by taking it out and blowing it with an air hose or replacing it. A clean filter can increase your engine’s life and increase your gas mileage.
- Wiper Blade Cleaning: Clean your wiper blades to extend its shelf life. You can do it whenever you fill up on gas — use the cleaning fluid it typically has next to the pump. Once the wipers are done for, you can easily get your own at most stores and change them yourself.
- Light Bulb Changes: Check your car’s manual or take to Google to see if you can change your own lightbulbs. Anything too complicated and it may be better to go to the mechanic, just in case.
- Checking Antifreeze Levels: Keep a bottle of antifreeze handy. Your car overheating can have severe consequences and cost an arm and a leg — if it’s even fixable. Check your antifreeze levels and make sure it’s full.
- Repair or Replace Weather Stripping: The rubber weather stripping can come loose or deteriorate if your car is old. You can reattach the rubber by getting a special purpose adhesive at your local auto parts store.
If you’re nervous about tackling these tasks, do an online search and there should a myriad of sites and videos — Youtube to the rescue! — to show you how it’s done.
Check Your Car Manual
Understanding your car will save you a lot of headaches and cash when you do need to take your car to the mechanic. The manual makes recommendations as to when you’ll need routine maintenance checks, like oil changes or tire rotations.
Next time you go to the mechanic, don’t let them convince you that you need additional services or products. You did your research!
Take Care of Those Paint Chips
No matter how well you drive, a pebble or a twig can scratch your car. While you may able to ignore the aesthetics of chipped paint, it can have serious consequences. As in, if you leave it alone, those scratches can turn into rust, potentially damaging your car’s body.
Unless the scratches are huge, you can typically take care of these yourself. Head to your local auto parts store and you should be able to get a paint kit that matches the color of your car. Clean your vehicle, follow the instructions on the paint kit and you’ll be good to go.
Stop The Hard Braking
Yup, slamming into your brakes can hurt them. Do it often enough and it’ll shorten the life of your breaks. We’re talking maybe half of its life or less depending on the car’s manufacturer. Instead, ease into a stop and save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars over the life of your car.
Adventurous? Try These More “Advanced” DIY Tasks
Most of the following tasks you can do yourself, but we won’t judge if you choose to go to a mechanic instead:
- Balance Your Tires: Balance your own tires once a year. This will help them wear out less. In addition, tires that are improperly balanced can damage your suspension system and wear out the shock absorbers.
- Changing The Oil: Change your car’s oil based on what your the owner’s manual recommendation. Most places recommend changing our car every 3,000 miles to extend the life of your engine.
- Fixing Dents and Dings: Try fixing dents yourself if it doesn’t involve major work and paint jobs. You can typically purchase a DIY dent removal kit online. Simply hot glue a suction to the dent and pull it out with a tool in the kit.
Saving money on car maintenance doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Most involve simple tasks and can save you hundreds. If you’re more adventurous, there are more labor-intensive tasks that can save you a trip to the mechanic, too. In any case, here’s to more money-savings adventures in your future!