Golden Ways to Reduce Your Car’s Maintenance Costs
It’s great to own a car, but we all know that it costs money to do so. According to the 2010 US Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, it costs about $600 a month on average to own a car. While the actual figure it costs you to own your car may vary (depending on the car’s age, condition etc.), there are many ways to reduce costs, including maintenance expenses. Here are some tips.
Basic Car Maintenance Schedule
- First, you need to know what basic maintenance your car needs. Typically this includes:
- Tire pressure check and realignment (check the pressure every month and rotate/balance them every 15,000 miles)
- Oil change (about every 3,000 miles)
- Tune up (about every 6,000 miles) – This typically includes changing spark plugs and cables along with oil, fuel and air filters
- Check all belts and tubes for cracks and leaks (after 100,000 miles)—In addition ,change the water pump re-adjust the timing belt.
- Check brakes (every 35,000 miles) – The brake pads should be at least a quarter-inch thick.
- Replace wiper blades (twice each year)
Typically these repairs cost time and money however many repairs, such as changing the wiper blades you can do yourself. There are many online resources that give clear step-by-step instructions for each repair. Or, most auto parts stores sell service manuals that show you how to repair everything in your specific car model. All you need are some basic tools that are readily available. By doing the repairs yourself, you can save a lot of money because a major part of car repair and maintenance is for labor.
If you don’t have the guts to service the car yourself, you can ask a knowledgeable friend, relative or coworker to do it for you at a nominal cost. Or offer to swap services with him or her – Offer to babysit the kids or make a special dinner in exchange for fixing your car.
Still another alternative is to take your car to a local high school with a vocational auto shop program. You can get free or reduced-cost auto repairs by letting students practice their new skills. Don’t worry, the work will probably be done by senior students under the supervision of their teacher.
Other car costs
Insurance is a major cost of car ownership, but again there are many ways to pay less for it. One well-known ways is to belong to an auto club, which routinely offers lower cost auto insurance rates for its members. In addition, most car insurance companies offer reduced rates to those who insure multiple items (i.e., several cars or house/car/life policies. You can reduce costs even further by increasing your deductible (however, you’ll pay more out of pocket for repairs if and when you have an accident).
If you have professional repairs done on your car, you’ll need to consider whether to get an extended warranty for your repairs. It’s a personal decision – some people feel that the extra coverage is a waste of money because the repairs may never be needed. However others like the peace of mind knowing future repairs are covered.
If you use your car every day to drive to work or to school, consider carpooling. Not only will it save you money on gas, your car will have less wear and tear. In addition, you can become better friends with your co-workers and classmates.
Some final bits of advice
Most car experts agree that, unless your owner’s manual specifies it, don’t bother with more expensive premium gasoline.
Studies have proven that obeying the standard rules of the road (and common sense) can save car maintenance costs: Drive at posted speeds. Take care of unusual car noises promptly. Check oil and fluid levels often.