Save Money on Car Service Costs With These 4 Tips
Next to a home, a car might be the most expensive thing you ever buy. You can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle. That's good reason to get the most of out of this big purchase — and your money — by taking good care of your car over time so that it runs smoothly for years.
To do that, you should plan for regular maintenance. Just like you, a car requires routine checkups to stay efficient and trouble-free.
But if you're not careful, your car service costs can make your car feel that much more expensive. Keep those expenses in check so you can give your car the TLC it needs to run for well over 100,000 miles.
1. Change Your Driving Habits to Spend Less on Gas
When you spend less on gas, you create more money in your budget to cover car service costs. You can change how you drive in order to help your car run more efficiently.
- Avoid stomping on the brakes or taking off with "jackrabbit starts." It not only wastes gas but also wears down your car's parts. Brake smoothly and steadily and accelerate the same way.
- Follow the speed limit. Every five miles per hour you go beyond 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.18 per gallon, according to Fueleconomy.gov.
- According to the Argonne National Laboratory, an idling sedan can use almost half a gallon of gas per hour. Restarting your vehicle only takes about 10 seconds' worth of fuel.
- Make sure your tires stay properly inflated and remove any unnecessary weight from your car. This will help your vehicle use less gas. In other words, stop hauling around stuff in the trunk you don't need!
2. Know Your Vehicle
Read your owner's manual. This booklet will explain the proper timing for oil changes and maintenance, types of oil and gas to use in your car and more. You can keep your car service costs manageable if you're proactive and adhere to the suggested maintenance schedule instead of waiting until something goes wrong to service your vehicle.
By learning more about your car, you can quickly diagnose any problems and use the right products to boost your vehicle's longevity. This knowledge can also empower you to dispute repair bills from mechanics who try to duplicate parts or charge you for unnecessary labor.
3. Do Your Research on Garages and Mechanics
When your car needs serious maintenance, shop around for estimates. Look up reviews on sites like Yelp, Google and Angie's List to see what other people are saying about a certain mechanic or garage.
Word-of-mouth is effective, too. Asking your neighbors, coworkers and even Facebook friends for recommendations can help you uncover both the trustworthy mechanics and those you want to stay away from — all of which will save you money and give you peace of mind.
4. DIY Isn't Just for Crafts
There are basic repairs you can learn to do on your own to save money, including:
- Checking fluids
- Changing the oil and air filters
- Replacing old wiper blades
Use YouTube videos as a resource to learn these basic maintenance tasks. It can save you money along with the time and hassle that comes with each trip to the mechanic.
Make sure you have the proper tools needed for repairs and give yourself time to study up on your vehicle's make and model (did we mention that owner's manual?) before starting. Of course, know your limits on DIY repairs. If you run into a serious problem, don't hesitate to call an expert.