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Automotive Finances & Money

Saving Money on Car Maintenance

Car owners concerned about wasting their hard earned money have found numerous ways to save money on their car’s operating expenses. Many start by driving fewer miles, observing the speed limit to improve fuel efficiency and shopping for affordable car insurance as ways to save money.

Most of us recognize that conscientious maintenance will extend the life of your car, help it operate more safely and efficiently, and preserve its appearance and value when it comes time to trade it in. Taking your car to a dealership for routine maintenance and a detail shop for cosmetic and restorative work is convenient, but can be expensive. Dealerships, in order to bolster departments which are not profitable, may increase prices to their service customers. Take your car to an automotive repair shop for less expensive routine service. Make sure any work done will not void your warranty.

Preventive measures can reduce the need for expensive maintenance procedures.

  • Especially for cars with fuel injection, buying poor quality gas can cause carbon buildup and loss of performance.
  • Keeping your tires inflated at the right pressure prolongs the life of your tires, gets better gas mileage, and provides optimum control and traction.
  • A walk-around inspection of your car daily can help you detect low tire pressure, rust spots and other signs of wear that, if treated early, can avert larger problems down the road.
  • Be sure to use spray lubricant like WD-40 on really tough rust spots and gears that may need lubrication.

By using less expensive but equally effective ingredients found around the home, you can prepare effective substitute cleaning products.

  • Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda is an excellent material that can be mixed with water to remove tar, bug juice, tree sap, bird droppings and other organic material that can etch into the car’s paint. Commercial products can cost between $10.00 and $40.00 per container.
  • For stains on the interior surfaces of your car, try a solution of vinegar and water applied with a tooth brush. Turtle Wax Spray Cleaner costs about $7.00 a can; vinegar is about $1.79 a pint.

Periodically, your car will need a “tune up” which may cost up to $50.00 at a local garage and more at a dealership. Some cars are easier to work on than others, so it might be wise to peek under the hood to visually locate spark plugs, distributor, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter and PCV valve. To further explore the world of automobile repair and maintenance, buy a Chilton’s “Total Car Care Repair Manual” for your particular year and model. It is a comprehensive maintenance and repair reference for your car containing step-by-step instructions on most of the maintenance procedures done by dealerships and repair shops. What is best is that on Amazon, you can buy a used copy for $7.00, instead of $33.00 retail.

Under the hood, car maintenance includes replacing or replenishing oil, coolant, windshield fluids and checking for worn belts. You can still save money while keeping your hands clean by shopping for good deals and substituting homemade ingredients for more expensive commercial products.

  • Cheap oil change – Call your favorite shop and ask when the next special on oil changes will occur. Keep your eyes open for signs on the road advertising a special on oil changes. Know the going prices for this service and see if a local neighbor’s kid will do it for cheaper. You can save $5.00 to $10.00 per oil change compared to licensed dealers.
  • Homemade windshield washer fluid – All it takes to make windshield washer fluid is liquid detergent (1 tbsp), rubbing alcohol (3 cups), and water (1 gallon). Mix three cups of this solution in a gallon of water for the final product.

If your time is worth more than the $100.00 per hour you can expect to pay for maintenance and repairs, maybe rolling up your sleeves on a Saturday afternoon and getting familiar with your car is not appealing. For many of us, there is a real satisfaction to be experienced when we replace that burnt out headlamp, top off the coolant or brake fluid, or change our own oil.

About the author

Clever Dude

1 Comment

  • Unless it requires an ramp or an engine lift, I do almost all of my car maintenance and repairs myself. It’s not just for the cost savings, although they can be significant, but it’s because I find it enjoyable and even relaxing. Once you figure out the basics, car repair isn’t overly difficult or complicated.

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