Car Maintenance Tips that Save You Money

car maintenance tips

The following is a Guest Post by Jessica from Living Chic on the Cheap

We have all heard the importance of proper car maintenance. Much like your personal health, an ounce of prevention can be worth more than a pound of cure. A well maintained car can actually save you money in long run. My Husband is the service manager at a very large dealership and he sees ALL kinds of things. I have picked up a lot of tips over the years. Here is some advice I wanted to share.

Keep Your Oil Changed

How often should you change your oil? Well, that depends on your vehicle. You should keep up with your scheduled oil changes as the manufacturer recommends, (you can find this in your owners manual) but a good range is 3,000-5,000 miles or at least once a year. (Oil has improved over the in most cases you do not have to change the oil as often as you did several years ago). Oils lubricating properties break down over time and mileage causing your engine to run less efficient or even damage your engine.

Use the CORRECT Oil for YOUR Engine

The manufacturer of your car designed your car to use a certain type of oil. Did you get a $19.99 Oil Change Coupon in the Mail? .... Check the fine print. It probably specifies a particular oil. If this is not the oil your car takes, do not redeem the coupon. You need to use the correct oil for your engine, because the internal tolerances of your engine are designed for a specific weight of oil.

Tire Pressure

To find the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, just open your driver's side door. There you will find the proper PSI (Tire Pressure) for your car. It varies by make and model.

It is important to note the pressure on the label is cold pressure. (That means the car need to sit for at least a couple of hours before so that your tires are not hot.)

Correct tire pressures maximizes fuel economy and wrong tire pressure can cause rapid or irregular tire wear, which means you would need to replace your tires more often.

Rotating Your Tires

Tire rotations are recommended about every 7,000 miles or every other oil change (but you will want to check your owners manual). Why rotate? Well, most cars are either front or rear wheel drive. If your vehicle is front wheel drive, the front tires wear faster than the rear tires (because they are working harder). When you rotate your tires you are allowing them to wear more evenly.

Align Your Car

Alignment is recommend once a year or about every 12,000-15,000 miles. The alignment keeps tires wearing evenly as well. So many folks don't even think about having their car aligned until it starts handling funny. By that time it is too late for those tires.

Replacing Tires

Tires not only effect fuel mileage and drive-ability, they are also a safety issue.

Do the penny tread test. Place a penny upside down in between the treads of your tires. If the top of Abe's head is showing, you need new tires.

tire tread test

Air Filters

Air Filters keep dirt and debris out of the engine. If the filter gets clogged it is robbing your engine of the air it needs. A good rule of thumb is to replace your air filter every 15,000-20,000 miles but see your owners manual for specific details for your make and model. A dirty air filter can actually decrease fuel economy by up to 10%.

Wiper Blades

This really isn't a money saving tip, but it is good time to recommend changing your wiper blades about every 6 months. Worn out wiper blades can lead to poor visibility, and become a major safety issue.

Wax Your Car

Wax your car at least twice a year. Waxing your car maintains the paint quality and finish of your paint which can lead to a higher resale value. Waxing helps protects the paint from oxidation. Even cars with clear coat need to be waxed.

No Dish Soap- EVER.

Dish soap contains degreasers so it will strip any protective elements from your paint. Use a car wash soap. You can find this at your auto parts store.

Where to Service

I know many people prefer independent shops, but if you have a good dealership in your area, this is a great place to consider taking your car. Why you ask, well because this is their expertise. Do you drive a Ford? Well your local Ford Dealer is certified to work on Ford Cars. Likewise Honda dealers work primarily on Hondas, Nissan Dealers on get the idea.

Certified dealer technicians get any updates and recalls as soon as they are released from the manufacturer, as well as continued training to stay certified. Also, since any particular dealer service center specializes in a particular line, they can often times be quicker to diagnosis issues which could save you during the diagnostic process. (Kind of like going to a medical specialist versus a general practitioner for a specific problem) Just something to think about.

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  1. Thanks for the tips! I knew most, except for the dish soap!

  2. Those are all great tips. Some I knew and some I didn’t. The dish soap tip was a new one to me. My husband is a Certified Auto Technician (ASE Certified) through an independent shop. Although I won’t knock certified dealerships, I don’t think they’re any better than any other place. It depends on the deslership/shop and how well experienced each person is. I’ve seen both good and bad at dealerships and independent shops.

  3. The equivalent for us folks from the UK is the 20p test :) there is a little rim around the coin which acts perfectly as a tread checker!

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