Taking care of your car can seem expensive, but with these 10 tips it doesn’t have to be!
While we might think of our daily driving as “normal,” the automotive industry defines the following as “severe” driving:
- Stop-and-go traffic
- Short commutes
- Dusty or salty environments
- Driving in extremely hot or cold weather
Chances are we do one or more of these things fairly often, if you drive a short distance in traffic during the winter it’s possible to knock off all of them in a day. But if you take good care of your car, this kind of driving doesn’t have to be so “severe”. Try these 10 ways to take care of your car without emptying your wallet.
Just like you or your pet receive periodic check-ups, your car should get one too. You would never let little Fluffy go without her shots, right? Well, your car needs clean oil, filters, fluids, and frequent tire checks instead. Performing routine care to your car will lessen the likelihood that something will spring up on you, and your wallet.
Keep up on basic maintenance like your oil and filters. Important parts of your car’s engine need them to stay lubricated, cleaned, and cooled. Frequently changing your oil and filter keep your engine clean on the inside. A clean engine is a happy engine.
Check your tires too, they affect your cars ride, handling, traction and overall safety. Regularly rotate your tires and check their pressure. Tip: mark your tires before you bring your car into the shop, then you will know for certain if they were rotated properly.
2. Control your lead foot
Driving fast may look exciting in the movies, but in real life it’s a major drain on your budget. “You can think of it like this: Every 5 mph you drive above 50 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon of gas,” explains Bo Saulsbury, senior researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Aggressive driving like speeding down the street or sudden stop and go acceleration is not only horrible for your car’s engine and brakes, but it racks up your gas bill big time. You can save between 13 cents and 89 cents per gallon by driving a little gentler. Squirrels running across the road will also thank you as well.
3. Extended Warranty
There are both pros and cons in springing for the extended warranty, but getting it is like buying peace of mind which is nice to have in a world of constant surprises.
As vehicles get older, the more likely it gets that something major will break, fail, or need repair. If this happens, your warranty can pay for itself. You are probably looking to keep your car for at least a couple of years, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it actually worked properly for that long?
It is also even possible to negotiate the price of your extended warranty. On average, you can save about $300 by haggling a bit, why not?
4. Get a mechanic you trust
Mechanics have a bad reputation for being exceedingly sketchy people. You go in the shop for an oil change and you walk out having spent hundreds of dollars because the mechanics scared you into thinking your car was in dire need of several mysterious repairs.
Every mechanic is obviously going to claim they are the best in an advertisement, so ask a friend, family member, or acquaintance you trust if they have a mechanic they would recommend. Sometimes companies pay for people to write positive feedback that they mask as honest reviews, so rely on word of mouth, not the internet, for authentic opinions about a mechanic’s service.
5. Care for your car in the winter
If you live in an area that experiences regular snowfall in the winter, first off let me say I’m sorry. There is nothing worse than being forced to leave the house a half hour earlier in the morning because you must scrape a small igloo’s worth of snow off your windshield.
Not only is winter the worst, its wreaks havoc on your car. Salt can lead to rust buildup on parts of your car that you can’t see, which causes damages that we definitely notice; like when the rust eats away at the metal and your exhaust pipe falls off. Whoops. Hit the car wash every other week or so to keep salt buildup under control.
Also, contrary to popular belief, you should not let your vehicle run when its cold outside. Today’s cars are built to move, and it does them no good when they sit still running for long periods of time. Instead, drive your car slowly for about 3 minutes, this will make it warm up faster and your engine will drive smoother.
6. Use YouTube for easy repairs
YouTube videos aren’t just for talking dogs and quirky cats anymore, you can get some useful knowledge if you know where to look.
There are real-life mechanics who make videos on YouTube that show you everything from the best products, to how to change your tire, to how to swap an engine. You can find someone who has your exact car, and watch them as they make repairs that you would normally have to take your car into the shop for. The Humble Mechanic, ChrisFix, and Mighty Car Mods are some of the most popular and helpful (but definitely not the only) YouTubers who can show you how to save your money and care for your own car.
When you bring your car into the shop, you obviously are paying for parts needed to fix your car as well as the labor it takes for the mechanics to make the repair. Sometimes the parts can be much more costly than the labor.
Purchase parts on your own online, or salvage them from a junkyard or other used part vendor. If you buy the parts yourself you have much more say in how much you pay than if you just wait anxiously to see what your mechanic bill says.
8. Stop idling
Leaving your car to idle is bad for your car all year round, not just in the winter.
Although it can seem convenient to leave your vehicle running while you do a quick errand or wait outside for a friend to come to your car, you are actually wasting gas and money. You lose between a quarter and a half-gallon of fuel per hour when your car idles. If you idle for an average of 2 hours every week, you can say goodbye to about $140 a year.
Turn your car off when you are not driving, it’s better for your vehicle and you won’t be throwing your money out the window.
9. Keep the outside of your car clean
Get more money for your car tomorrow, by giving it a little wash and wax today. Washing your car makes it look nice and shiny and protects the value by reducing the buildup of things like dirt, damaging chemicals, road salt, tree sap or those annoying, impossible-to-remove berries that stick to your car and look delicious but you can’t eat.
Take it a step further and get a wax to protect your car even more. It might be a little more expensive, but it will stay cleaner longer, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning it as much.
10. Car seat covers
Your car interior goes through a lot of natural wear and tear as your use it, and this can leave the inside looking like a Rorschach test we didn’t know happened. You know the mysterious splotches, smears, coffee stains and the burn hole from your friend’s friend who smoked in the backseat even though you told them not to.
Give your car a makeover and protect it at the same time with car seat covers. Cover just the front two seats of the entire car depending on which parts you use the most. You can get covers that match the already existing interior of your car, or you can get creative with a funky design.
You and your car are in this for the long haul, so it deserves some TLC every now and then. Luckily with these tips it’s easy to care for your car without breaking the bank!