7 Easy ways to Reduce Car Repair Costs
Exercise these easy techniques to prevent catastrophic repair costs!
Published January 4, 2018
Throughout my life, I’ve owned many types of cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. I’ve owned a $300 Mercury Tracer, a slightly-used Lincoln LS, a Lexus, Ford Explorer, a few F-150’s, and many other used cars. While I got a great deal on all of the used vehicles, almost every single one of them required considerable car repair costs somewhere along the way.
I always swore that I would never buy a brand new car because of the lost value after driving it off of the dealership sales lot. However, I finally caved in after quickly needing a car and bought a brand new Hyundai Sonata a few years back. I’ve got to say, the dealership made the purchase amazingly quick and easy. Within hours I had a new car that was heavily-warrantied and I didn’t have a single issue with it for over 60,000 miles. While I did pay a considerable amount for this convenience, I’ve got to admit; it was probably worth it after considering that I had no repair costs and saved tons of time, car rental costs, etc.
However, after the Sonata, I purchased another used pickup truck for work and I promised myself that I would take as good of care as possible to see which purchase was better. After taking the following initiatives, I’ve learned that a used car is still the way to go if you follow these simple and affordable steps to reduce vehicle maintenance costs.
Use the Manufacturer’s Recommended Oil Type
Contrary to what some tire and lube shops might tell you, there’s a reason that manufacturers recommend certain oil types and sometimes even brands. They build the engine and the components to operate with that oil type. Most auto manufacturers also test all types of ideal oils after designing the mechanics as well. They want your engine to run as long as possible. This is the most important key performance indicator that they are scored on.
Change Oil and Oil Filter Regularly
This is quite possibly the most important factor in determining the overall life of your vehicle – especially the engine. New and clean oil is essential to a healthy engine. Without it, the engine and gaskets will burn up more quickly than you would probably imagine. Oil changes are recommended frequently, as well as filter changes because dirty oil can cause corrosion and blockages that can also fry your engine. Recommended changes vary from vehicle to vehicle, so do some research to see exactly how often your oil should be changed. And remember, it’s always better to change your lube before service is due than after. Especially if you’re a procrastinator!
Cut Down on Car Service Costs by Doing the Work Yourself
If you’re sporting an older vehicle, especially a U.S. domestic vehicle, you should look into doing some of the basic routine services and repairs yourself. In some models, it’s extremely easy to do things like oil changes or brake pad changes, and you can do so for a fraction of the cost of taking it to a professional. However, some of the newer, compact, and foreign cars can be very challenging, and many require special tools to complete the tasks. If you’re not totally sure what you’re doing, the costs associated with risk may outweigh the potential savings. For all others, check out the free guides that AutoZone provides for specific vehicle models or learn from the best public education institute out there – the University of Youtube!
Stop Driving Everywhere Like a Bat Out of Hell
Some cars and trucks were designed to be put through hell. However, the large majority were not. It’s not necessarily bad to tear some serious ass when you’re in a hurry every once in a while, but persistent redlining, hard braking, fast turns, and extreme speeding will cost you more than you would think. All of these forms of terrorizing your ride stress out the engine and components as well as cause excessive wear and tear. If you just can’t help yourself, be sure to perform inspections and services to your vehicle before the recommended dates to prevent further potential damages to your vehicle.
Get Car Tune Ups as Needed – Not a Day Later than Scheduled
While most drivers are aware of the basic inspections and services that are important to vehicle health, one of the most overlooked beneficial and preventative measures to vehicles is the Tune-up. During standard tune-ups, the fuel filter, air filter PCV valve, breather filter, spark plugs, belts, hoses, fluids and other parts are usually inspected and replaced as needed. Replacing these parts before they become faulty will increase the performance of your vehicle and will prevent damage to your engine, thereby saving you lots of money!
Check Tire Pressure Regularly
Luckily, most newer-model vehicles have computerized gauges that throw an alert up on your dashboard if your tire pressure falls below a safe level, but you would be surprised how many people ignore this important feature. Driving with adequate tire pressure increases gas mileage, extends the life of your tires by at least 30%, and can help prevent things such as alignment/balancing issues.
Keep your Engine Air Filter Clean
Dirt is one of an engine’s worst enemies. A nice, clean, lubricated engine ensures a long and functional life for your car. Adequate air flow is very important to keep everything working functionally while outputting peak performance. The cost of a new air filter is much less than the cost of the engine components that may have to be replaced, should you keep a dirty air filter in the casing. Most vehicles benefit the most from a changed air filter every 15,000 – 30,000 miles. I, personally, am a huge fan of the K&N Air filters which can be cleaned with water (for a lifetime use), while providing technology that delivers optimal air flow to the engine.
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