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Saving Money on Car Maintenance

Updated on March 15, 2007

It is pretty much a guarantee that if you own a car, it will need to be repaired. Car maintenance is a big expense even for fairly new cars and can be a much bigger expense for older cars. This doesn't have to cost a fortune though. There are things you, the car owner, can do to save money on repair and maintenance of your automobile.

Routine maintenance is one of the best ways to prevent further, more expensive repair. Change your oil when it needs to be done (every 3 months or 3,000 miles) and you will save money in repair bills down the line. Change the belts in your vehicle before they break and you can save yourself hundreds. A broken belt can lead to major, expensive repairs needed on top of the cost to replace the belts. Your car manual should tell you when things generally need to be replaced and it is wise to do so at that time.

When a car is under warranty, you will obviously take your car to the dealership when it needs work done, as it should be free under warranty. When it is no longer under warranty, the dealership is probably your most expensive option. Find a reputable mechanic close to home or work and it will generally be much cheaper than the dealership. You should always keep good records of everything that is done to your car and by whom. Even those pesky oil changes need to be logged. When it comes time to sell, a good record showing that the car has been maintained properly will go a long way towards increasing the money you get for the car.

I do have to mention that a lot of routine maintenance can be done at home by the owner. You can purchase automotive repair manuals for the make and model for each car you own at your local Autozone. These generally cost around $20 and you should recoup that cost in your first use. Changing your own oil will save you that much the first time you do it. The last time I checked an oil change was costing around $25 per vehicle. We purchase our oil and filters at Walmart for around $5 per vehicle.

Doing your own maintenance does require some special tools. You can use these tools however on all your cars now and in the future, so it could be a wise purchase. There have been times when a particular tool has cost more than it would cost to pay someone to repair it for us, and those times we took it to a mechanic. You do need to consider the cost of tools when deciding to do a repair yourself.

Some other things that my husband has done himself have included changing filters, belts, batteries, CV boots, oil changes, basic break maintenance, flushing the radiator, replacing spark plugs, and replacing head and tail lights. Some things like changing the light bulbs require no special tools and really only take a few minutes. The Haynes Auto Repair Manuals explain things in detailed steps with lots of pictures, making doing it yourself much easier than most people would think.

Another to consider, is before you purchase a car, research which vehicles have the best track records for repair. Buying a car that generally has few repairs other than routine maintenance can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the car. Taking good care of your car will cost money in routine maintenance but as I have pointed out there are ways in which to save money on these expenses. Taking care of the routine maintenance will definitely save you money in the long run.


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      Jaime Corales 7 years ago

      I purchase a manuel from the Motorbookstore online and save several dollars compared to Discount Auto Part Store in my town. But the pictures are not very clear to make repairs good, but the text is okay to explain lots of the details in the how to fix it. So happy with the book and purchase prices from the motor bookstore.

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      Mark Patton 8 years ago

      I recently picked up a used Haynes manual for my car, which didn't cost me too much. It's already saved us some money by helping us understand how to do some basic repairs.

    • DHunter profile image

      DHunter 10 years ago from Unites States

      Nice article! Routine maitenance is essential to avoiding those costly repairs in the long run as well as avoiding a bundle of repairs that usually happen when we don't do take care of our cars on a regular basis.

      An automotive savings account could prove very useful in emergencies.