Car maintenance can be the most daunting part of car ownership — especially the cost of it all. If you do your homework, though, there are many ways in which you can save on your regular car maintenance.
Know Your Basic Maintenance
Knowing your car’s specific maintenance needs, while not a surprising way to save, is certainly the most important. Regular and proper maintenance is by far the best way to keep your costs low. Look at your car’s owner’s manual. It likely includes an appropriate maintenance schedule to follow. Obviously, don’t get these done at the dealer’s service center unless that’s included in your warranty for a period of time.
Always Use Oil Change Coupons
Oil changes are the most common and one of the most important car maintenance routines, but you shouldn’t be paying full price for it. Most of the chain oil change shops, like Valvoline and Jiffy Lube, constantly have discounted oil change vouchers available on Groupon and Living Social. You can get anywhere from 30 to 70 percent off of their regular retail service price. With something as simple as an oil change, you don't need to go to the same garage every time!
Do Your Own Oil Change
Though it’s a messy task, if you’re really looking to save, then you can opt to do your own oil change. The process is much faster at an oil change service center since they have the setup for it, but it will likely take you at least 45 minutes to an hour on your own. You’ll need a jack to lift the car and some other equipment. Edmunds has some detailed instructions to get you started, though hopefully, you can grab someone who has done it before to help you the first time around.
Buy And Replace Your Own Air Filter
Without fail, the service people doing your oil change will ask if you want them to replace your engine air filter. While they don’t charge for the service of putting it in, they do sell you the filter at a premium price (this goes for windshield wipers too). Opt to buy your own from the auto shop. Replacing an air filter is a fairly easy task that only requires a screwdriver and about 15 minutes of your time at most.
Maintain Your Tire Pressure
Maintaining the manufacturer recommended air pressure in your tires is important for a number of reasons. The tread of your tires will wear out quicker if you consistently drive on underpressurized tires. Additionally, you’ll burn more gas in the process. Your fuel economy will definitely go down. Make sure you’re checking your tire pressure monthly for optimal performance and cost saving.
Balance And Rotate Tires
Your car’s tires also need to be balanced and rotated annually. That is if you want to extend the life of them for as long as possible. Your tire’s tread will last much longer if you balance and rotate them every year or whatever the manufacturer recommended timeframe is.
Replace Tires at Bulk Stores
When it does come time to replace your tires, shop at bulk stores like Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club to buy them. Their tire centers are usually the cheapest by a wide margin and they will still put them on for you. The dealer, on the other hand, will charge you a premium.
Tire sales are usually discounted the most during the months of October and April. This is for seasonal reasons. Just like how other goods are discounted for holidays, tire manufacturers look to take advantage of the seasonal changes to encourage car owners to buy new tires for winter and for summer, respectively. See if you can time your tire replacements for those months.
Research Repairs Beforehand
If you end up needing a repair done by a mechanic, do a little research yourself to get a better understanding of what the problem is and what it’s going to take to fix it. AAA has some great resources for this, including a car care repair cost estimation tool as well as listings of approved auto repair shops. Also, check out AutoMD.
While AAA offers some great informational resources, it also offers some big potential maintenance savings. Namely, you can save a ton on towing and roadside assistance by becoming an AAA member. Both of those services are quite expensive, but with a membership, you get a certain amount of it included depending on the member tier. The membership also gets you discounts at a wide range of businesses.
You can maintain your car (or not) through the way that you drive every day. Accelerating quickly and abruptly puts a larger strain on pretty much all of your car’s mechanics and parts. Similarly, try to anticipate stops so you’re not pressing hard on the brake. Your brakes can last a much longer time if you coast to stops, allowing inertia to slow the car down, instead of accelerating and then needing to slam on the brakes.