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8 DIY Automotive Maintenance Tricks that Save Us Big Money

Updated December 5, 2014

Did you know that you can save yourself hundreds, even thousands of dollars on DIY auto repairs each year? By learning and practicing a few routine maintenance tips, we have saved money not only on repairs, but also purchasing inexpensive used vehicles. Maintenance saves on gas costs, too. The biggest reason most people buy new vehicles is because they need the warranty or they lack the skills to perform their own maintenance. Those skills aren’t difficult to learn, though. My husband and sons do most of the work on our vehicles. Our vehicles only go to the garage if it’s a big job that requires a hoist. We don’t have a garage, either. Our vehicles sit outside in all kinds of Michigan snow, rain and foul weather. Our vehicles are usually 10 to 16 years old, too. Because we practice preventative maintenance, even those older vehicles rarely require garage visits. Here eight easy ways to prolong the life of your vehicle, use less gas, and save money.

* Change your oil at home. Garage oil changes cost at least $30-$50, even at Jiffy Lube. Oil should be changed every three months or 3,000 miles. For about half that price (for oil and a new filter) you can change your own oil in the driveway, backyard or by driving the car up on the curb. It takes only a few minutes to replace the oil filter. It takes about half and hour to drain the used oil completely, but you can be doing other things while it drains. Draining the oil by gravity, versus sucking it out as quick lube places do, is better for your vehicle, too.

* Keep fluids at appropriate levels. Check transmission, radiator and oil frequently. They should be clean and fresh. Changing the transmission requires about as much work as changing the oil. Keeping your fluids clean and topped off is one of the easiest way to prevent problems. Stores extra oil, transmission fluid and water in the trunk for emergencies.

* Do your own tune-up. If you can replace a light bulb, you can replace your own spark plugs. They pull out and snap in that easily. If you can remove wing nuts, you can replace your air filter. The trickiest part is making sure you get the correct sizes and that’s just a matter of reading the owner’s manual.

* Keep your tires properly inflated. Inflating your tires to the proper levels prevents uneven wear and tear and extends their lifespan. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle. Check it when you get gas.

* Put gas line antifreeze in your vehicle on cold nights. Purchase a bottle at any auto parts store or gas station. Pour it into the gas tank when, following the directions on the bottle. This will prevent your car from freezing in winter.

* Wax your car’s exterior. The elements take their toll on vehicles. If you drive through an automatic car wash, be sure to choose the wax option. The best policy is to put a coat of wax on your vehicle several time per year. This will extend the life of your paint job and prevent rust from forming.

* Drive safely. How you operate your vehicle affects its lifespan. Driving within the speed limit means you’ll get better gas mileage. Planning sufficient time to stop prevents undue wear on brakes. Closing doors and trunk lid carefully keeps electrical gadgets functioning properly.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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