By Stephen P. Cline
Car prices continue to rise and many people spend a lot of time trying to save money so they can afford to buy a new one — you use your car every single day to get around and you need to drive something dependable. After spending a lot of money on it, it’s important to take care of your car. This doesn’t just mean filling it up with gas when it’s low and driving it through the car wash.
Tip 1: Keep your vehicle maintenance on a tight schedule
While there’s no general schedule out there, it’s important to keep track of the mileage, make, model and year of your car and follow the guidelines outlined in your car’s service manual. When it comes to taking care of your car, it’s good to have this information ready.
Taking care of the little things will help avoid dealing with an expensive or unnecessary maintenance down the road. For example, ignoring the recommended oil change intervals can cause your engine to wear out quicker.
Tip 2: Find a mechanic you can trust
Finding a mechanic who is not only great at what he does, but one who isn’t shady can be tough. Many dealerships will overcharge you for everything. Consider going to a private mechanic’s shop to have something cheap done first to see how well they do. This will give you a great idea on whether or not you can trust him to take on a larger job if needed. One of the best ways to find a mechanic you can trust is by getting some recommendations from family, friends and co-workers.
Tip 3: Regularly check your car’s fluid levels
It’s not difficult to learn how to properly check and restore the fluid levels on your car. The majority of the shops and oil change retailers will check these too when you get an oil change, but it’s still good to check for yourself.
Tip 4: Keep the tires nice and full
All cars will have a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door or in the glove box telling you how much air is needed in your tires. Using a tire gauge will let you know how much air is in your tires and putting air in your tires is cheap and easy. It’s good to check the tire pressure at least one a month, especially during the wintertime when you need all of the traction you can get when roads are slippery, icy or snow covered.
Tip 5: Get yourself an OBD-II reader
If your car was made in 1996 or later, you can use the OBD-II to read the codes produced by the electronic on-board diagnostic system. So if your check engine light pops on, you’ll know exactly what’s wrong with your car and how serious it is. This saves you money from having to go to your mechanic or car dealership, especially since the dealership will sometimes charge you $150 just to look at it and turn off your code before making repairs. The OBD-II will cost you $100 or less.
By spending a little bit now, you’re saving yourself a lot more money later on. Take care of your car using these helpful tips on how to save and frugally splurge on your car’s maintenance.
Stephen Cline has an MBA and has worked in the finance industry. You can follow him on Twitter @stephlines or check out his writing at Economic Crisis Blog.
Photo Credit: Hector Landaeta