Cutting Car Costs: Money-Saving Maintenance Tips For Your Automobile
In 2016, there were over 268 million registered vehicles on U.S. roads. But while owning a vehicle is often associated with personal freedom, the costs associated with car ownership can often feel like your own personal prison.
It’s important to choose a vehicle you can actually afford when it comes time to purchase, but too many people forget just how pricey regular maintenance and repairs can be. Even if money isn’t tight, you won’t want to spend more than you have to on upkeep. Here are just a few ways you can keep vehicle maintenance and repair expenditures as low as possible.
Don’t Go With the First Shop You Find
Before making any considerable purchase, you should research your options. That’s especially true when it comes to anything related to your car. Prices can vary widely depending on the auto shop you choose, so don’t be afraid to conduct your own little cost analysis before making a commitment. Once you know the average cost for a given repair, you can talk to the shop of your choosing and assess whether there’s any wiggle room on the price. Of course, forming a personal relationship with a mechanic can also save you quite a bit in the long run. So once you’ve found a repair shop that meets your standards, stick with it.
Buy Replacement Parts Online
Buying parts directly from your dealership or from a local store may not always yield the best price. For example, a trim piece that might cost $5 to make could feature a 5,000% premium at the retail counter. In many cases, online stores have lower premiums, allowing you to enjoy more cost savings. That said, it’s important to compare pricing before making a purchase and to make sure the part is correct for your vehicle. Before buying online, check on shipping costs, taxes, and return policies to make sure you’re saving as much as you think you are.
Skip Out On Extras and Duplicate Labor
If you take your car to the dealership or a repair shop to have services performed, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what your car really needs. If extra services or seasonal deals are being offered, it might sound tempting to take advantage. But if your car doesn’t feasibly need that maintenance performed, you’ll end up wasting money. Do some quick research on your own to learn whether that extra service will help you save money in the long term or whether it’s merely a cash grab for the dealership or shop.
That said, it’s important to think ahead. If you have a couple of possible repairs that need to be performed, it’s often cheaper to have them both done at once so you can avoid duplicate labor charges. If your mechanic recommends killing two birds with one stone, it may be worth paying one fee now than making two larger payments to have the same repairs performed.
Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
Although polyethylene is the most common plastic, with 80 million tons produced each year, car components made of plastic don’t last forever. The same can be said for internal components made of even stronger materials. Although you may not be eager to spend money on maintenance, preventative services will often alleviate the need for more expensive repairs. Replacing brake pads, repairing windshield chips, inflating tires, and checking fluid levels may all seem like small tasks, but they can make a big difference in keeping your car running as it should. These preventative maintenance jobs are pretty inexpensive and they can help you avoid more major issues down the road.
Learn How to DIY
Although it’s not a good idea to attempt every repair yourself, as you could end up doing more damage, you might benefit from learning how to perform a few basic maintenance services or repairs. Simple jobs like replacing wiper blades, headlights, air filters, and even the car battery are probably ones you can handle. Always refer to your owner’s manual and check out some reputable online videos for a tutorial. Having this basic knowledge can allow you to get out of a jam, particularly when you don’t have extra funds to spend or your mechanic isn’t available.
Any vehicle owner knows that unexpected costs can derail your budget. With these money-conscious maintenance tips in mind, you can take care of your car without spending too much.