This is the time of year when keeping up with vehicle maintenance becomes so important. As the snow and ice begin to melt the roads are littered with huge pot-holes. It is a good idea to make sure your car is in the best shape possible to avoid accidents or other damage from happening.
The most important thing a motorist can do to extend the life of their vehicle is to read the owner’s manual. The maintenance routine spelled out in the manual was written by the engineers who designed that make and model of automobile, and they know exactly what needs to be done and when to do it to keep a car running efficiently.
I know that vehicle maintenance can sometimes come with a steep price tag, depending on what type of vehicle you drive. I’m going to share some maintenance tips with you to help you save money, and save yourself from expensive repairs due to something that could have been prevented.
Keeping the vehicle properly tuned can save well over $100 a year, as a poorly tuned car will use between 25 and 33 percent more gas in a year. Additionally, the price of a tune-up costs less than it will to repair a major problem caused by an improperly tuned engine. Regular engine tune-ups bring power and efficiency back to your car, and that will save you money.
Regular Oil Changes –
Many new cars can now go longer between oil changes than the older 3,000 mile recommendation with the use of synthetic motor oil. However, changing the engine oil and filter as recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer can save as much as $200 per year in fuel costs. Read your owner’s manual to find out the recommendation for your vehicle.
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Check Fluids –
Check all fluids regularly, including radiator coolant, power steering, brake, transmission, clutch fluid, and windshield washer solution. Fluid levels are very crucial because allowing fluid levels to get too low will increase friction and wear on moving parts. Also, windshield washer solution keeps the windshield clean, saving wear on wiper blades, and helping to avoid an accident due to poor visibility.
Clean Air Filters –
Check the vehicle’s air filter once a month and change it as soon as it is clogged or looks too dirty. Place a light on the inside of the filter and look to see if the light shines through the outside of the filter. If not, it is time to replace it. You should also check out your oil filter occasionally. Most people do this when changing their oil and that’s fine.
Many people think they only have ONE filter in their car, but all cars will have at least TWO filters if not more. Did you know that many vehicles have FOUR or more filters? These can include: air, oil, gas, transmission, and a cabin air filter. All of these filters need changing periodically and some require a special tool to do that. If you can’t change these on your own, ask your service repair person to check them out and change them if necessary.
Check Tires –
Use only the correct tire size for the vehicle. Over-sized or extra-large tires will increase road resistance and use more fuel. Keeping the tires balanced and rotated will not only extend the life of the tires, but save wear on the suspension system and increase gas mileage as well. Checking tire pressure is very important and should become a habit, especially before long road trips. In addition to increasing the life of the tires, properly inflated tires will increase gas mileage by 3-4 percent.
Save On Gas –
Forget about premium gasoline, UNLESS the vehicle manufacturer specially calls for it. Most automobile engines are designed to run on regular unleaded gas, which usually costs about 15-18 percent less, on average, than premium fuel. So skip that premium gas to save some money.
Change Your Brakes –
Having the vehicle’s brakes checked regularly can help you save significantly on repair bills. This is because badly-worn brake pads will almost always lead to major repairs, as the rivets that hold the pads in place can damage drums, rotors, and cause excessive pressure on wheel cylinders. Not having the brakes checked regularly can cost over $300 or more than just a routine brake job.
Wash and Wax –
Wash and wax your vehicle regularly. Believe it or not, a clean and shiny car is up to 8 percent more fuel efficient than a dirty ride. This is because all the small particles of dirt and grime add up to create a substantial amount of wind resistance that causes the car’s engine to work harder. It will also save you on costly paint and chip repairs because that filthy dirt can hurt your clear protection paint, especially in the winter when your car gets covered in salt. The road salt will eat away at metal and paint; this could lead to very costly repairs down the line.
When Spring is right around the corner, break out your tool box or drive your car to the nearest automobile shop for some inspections and repairs. You might have to pay some money upfront for the vehicle maintenance, but it will save you money further down the road. It will also help ease your mind knowing that every time you take your car out for a ride, you have done everything you can to make it as safe as possible. Now, enjoy the upcoming Summer by planning a road trip!
Do you have any other vehicle maintenance tips or money-saving advice for car repairs? We’d love to hear them!