5 Tips to Save (and Frugally Splurge) on Your Car’s Maintenance

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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.

Here are five tips to save and frugally splurge on your vehicle maintenance.

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.

Author Information

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.

References

TrueCar.com (Home)

OBD-II.com (Home)

Photo Credit: Hector Landaeta

Top Auto Tech Trends For 2010

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By Stephen P. Cline

Buying a car requires research; this is certainly no secret to even novice car seekers. Pricing is the biggest issue, which is affected by many aspects. Traditionally, specifications like gas mileage, engine performance, and even brands have been the main players affecting the price of cars.

Technology has also become a significant player, even with the ability to find low prices by browsing the Web. The various add-ons that make each vehicle a modern wonder of transportation are fascinating on their own, and there are several interesting ones which could affect its affordability.

Mobile Device Integration

The proliferation of sophisticated mobile devices like smartphones and media players has steered gracefully into the automotive market. Car designers have found ways to include ports for iPods, Bluetooth devices, and other mobile products. From integrated ports and cradles, to applications that ease the use of Smartphone features in the car, this trend has become so widespread that car manufacturers have jumped in to provide add-on features for the convenience of drivers, even if they add to the cost of the vehicle.

Navigation

Since GPS systems went mainstream, many different navigation devices have gone on the market, and everyone can take advantage of on-board directions and other extras such units have to offer. There are also software products and services that provide more detailed maps, even in 3D, and which can alert to real-time traffic conditions.

Voice Control

Driving while operating cell phones and other devices has long been known to create hazards on the road. The new trend in voice controlled systems has reduced the danger of using a portable media player or phone. Drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes focused on road conditions while being able to talk to family or business associates, or listen to the music they want.

Software

Nowadays, there seems to be a software program or app for everything. There are apps modified for cars to bring in Internet radio, to monitor fuel consumption and car performance, and to monitor the car from anywhere using a Smartphone, among many other things. Cars are becoming more regularly connected to the Internet so drivers can dial in using text-to-speech technology to use navigation services and even find restaurant reviews.

Convenient Technology Comes at a Cost

It is possible to conduct hours of research on the Internet, using automotive directories to seek reviews and find lower prices on new cars. However, adding new technological products will still add the overall cost of any car. Navigation systems cost hundreds of dollars. High end ones that integrate into the dashboard and include music, video, and memory features can cost thousands, as does a navigation receiver from Rosen tailored for Toyota Camry’s from 2007 on.

Prices of cars are affected by many things, including local market conditions, company issues such as manufacturing costs and a high number of recalls, and trends in technology. Many innovations now make the car a one-stop information and communications center. The top trends of late offer abilities that travelers and workers did not have just a few years ago, and perhaps have revolutionized the practice of car shopping.

Author Information

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 his Economic Crisis Blog.