Keep Car Repair Costs Down with DIY Maintenence

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Most of us rely on our vehicles to get us where we need to and want to be so it’s in our best interest to keep them running at peak performance. Nothing can put a crimp in our schedule — and our budget — like car trouble. What can be done to minimize the inconvenience and expense of auto repairs?

The key to your car’s optimal performance is preventative maintenance, much of which you can do yourself. Here are some suggested DIY tips to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

Check or inspect the following every 2 weeks:

That owner’s manual that’s been in your glove compartment since you drove off the dealer’s lot contains all the information you need concerning appropriate levels and schedules for your particular vehicle. Read it! Taking some time to familiarize yourself with the “care and feeding” of your car is an investment in its long-term operation.

  • Oil: Remember back in the day when a gas station attendant checked your oil at every fill up? That was a sound practice. Allowing oil to get low or not changing it often enough is the number one killer of engines.
  • Power steering fluid: While you’re under the hood, also check the level of this fluid which is as important for the lubrication and operation of your power steering system as oil is to your engine.
  • Serpentine belt: This belt runs multiple components within the engine. Inspect it for cracks or fraying.
  • Tire pressure: Under-inflated tires cause unnecessary wear. Invest in a gauge and make sure the air pressure in your tires is where it should be. A bonus to properly inflated tires is that it increases your gas mileage — who wouldn’t appreciate more MPGs these days? Also, remember to check the fifth tire — a flat spare is as good as no spare at all. Learning to change a tire will save you the expense of calling a mechanic or tow truck when you’re stranded with a flat.
  • Tire appearance: Visually inspect your tires for wear. Uneven wear could indicate a suspension problem.

If any of these elements need attention, get on it immediately or seek the services of your mechanic to do so. Likewise, if your “Check Engine” light goes on, make an appointment with your mechanic as soon as possible.

Prudent Practices for Savings

  • Trust your gut when choosing your mechanic. Because most people don’t possess automotive know-how, there’s a pervasive fear of being taken advantage of by an unfamiliar mechanic. That’s why word-of-mouth referral is the best method by which to choose your mechanic. Like a doctor, a trustworthy, capable mechanic willing to take the time to completely explain issues related to your vehicle is preferred. The benefit of having a long-standing relationship with your mechanic is that he or she will know your car — both its history and its quirks.
  • Wash your car. Not only will it look nicer but keeping it free of grime will reduce the risk of damage to the finish or rust. Washing is recommended every couple weeks and waxing twice per year.
  • Keep at least ¼ tank of fuel in your vehicle. Although with the price of gas it’s like driving around with the cost of a large pizza sloshing around in your tank, the gas actually lubricates and cools your fuel pump. When your tank is routinely lower than ¼ full, the pump is not submerged and is therefore not protected by the fuel and will experience increased wear.

Performing good preventative maintenance yourself will keep small problems from escalating into major, potentially costly, auto repairs.

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