5 Money Saving Car Care Strategies
Your car is one of your most expensive possessions, surpassed only by your home in worth. Indeed, motorists spend thousands of dollars annually on gas, insurance, maintenance, and taxes, which means taking good care of your car can extend its life and save you money.
To that end, the following tips are offered to help you keep your car running and looking its very best:
1. Start With Your Owner’s Manual – Your car owner’s manual is the manufacturer’s guidebook for your specific make/model, detailing how often you should change your oil, when tune ups need to be accomplished, and every other maintenance detail. But just don’t just thumb through your manual – head straight to the maintenance schedule, photocopy those pages or track that information on an Excel worksheet.
By following recommended maintenance intervals you can save money, preserve your warranty, and extend the life of your vehicle.
2. Give It The Gas – Engines are designed to run on either diesel fuel or gasoline. One grade of diesel fuel is sold, but when it comes to gas, which grade should you use or does that matter? After all, most pumps sell at least two grades of gas.
Mark Schirmer, Product Communications Manager at Ford Motor Company, advises, “Consumers should always follow the gasoline recommendations made by their vehicle’s manufacturer. For example, all new Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles run well on regular unleaded gas. However, some of our competitors’ luxury models warn owners that they can seriously damage their engines if they consistently fill up with gas below 91 octane.”
3. Inspect Regularly – Every time you fill up at the pump you should walk around your car for a brief inspection. Are tires inflated properly? If not, inflate to the levels listed on the sticker inside the driver’s door. Are wiper blades worn? Gently lift the blades and inspect for cracking or other signs of wear. Replace your stock rubber blades with composite blades such as Bosch Micro Edge which to a better job of removing moisture.
Monthly, lift up the hood and check fluid levels including your oil, windshield washer, power steering, brake, and transmission fluids. Top off as needed or, if you have your oil changed at a ten minute oil change facility, some offer free top offs between changes. Check the clear plastic reservoir next to your radiator, replenish as needed. Keep battery connections clean and check hoses and belts for signs of wear or separation.
4. Find A Trusted Mechanic – While under warranty most of your maintenance and repair visits will likely be accomplished through your dealership. Yet, not every dealer is close by nor do they always offer outstanding service. Some private garages attract a strong following and for good reason: their service is very good, prices competitive, and reputation stellar.
CarTalk.com features localized search for auto mechanics. Enter your zip code under “Mechanics Files” and a list of Nearby Repair Shops will be returned featuring contact information, surveys from customers, and comments.
When contacting garages find out if repair rates are posted; whether labor costs are covered with the warranty; and perform a gut check to determine if the garage seems friendly and helpful. Importantly, does the garage save your worn out parts for your inspection? If not, how do you know that these items were changed?
5. Keep It Sparkling – What is the best way to keep your car clean? Jody DeVere, CEO of AskPatty.com, an automotive advice site for women, cautions motorists who frequent commercial washes. “The high impact of the cloths and brushes promotes surface scratches. Touchless or semi-touchless cloth or brush methods as well as foam and high-pressure spray can prevent this, but the chemical agents used in them are usually harsh and can dull paint luster if used exclusively.”
As far as hand washing your car DeVere adds, “You have total control over what touches your car and it can benefit from a softer touch. And if using the right cleaning agents and tools such as professional car shampoos and micro fiber cloths, it can be a lot gentler on the car’s surface.” Similarly, keep your interior looking great by using products such as Armor All to preserve your dashboard.
Americans are paying more for their new cars while keeping them longer. Most drivers perform basic checks themselves or have a quick oil change place complete these tasks while using the services of a trusted car mechanic to handle more complicated scheduled maintenance projects.