Aside from fuel costs, auto loan repayments, and the costs of your insurance, the one cost of owning a car that you have to deal with most frequently is the cost associated with keeping it running well on the road. Maintenance, repair and replacements can all get pretty expensive, but it doesn’t have to be such a disaster for your wallet. Here, we’re going to look at a few ways to keep the budget of your car upkeep on the slimmer side.
Don’t buy a lemon
There are laws protecting you from buying a car that is in a significantly worse state than it appears. No one can sell you a car that isn’t road legal and pretend that it is. However, if you’re buying a used car, you can still get ripped off by buying a car that isn’t in as great a shape as it could be. You should be wary of buying on the private used market without any guarantee of the car’s performance. Aside from taking it for a test drive, you should also take the car to a mechanic so that they can have a look over it and identify any issues that you might not be aware of. Otherwise, you might be buying a car that you will have to shell out for again soon after you have bought it.
Mind how you drive it
Your car is going to need repairs, replacements and general maintenance at some point. It’s a fact of life that wear and tear affects all physical objects, including your vehicle. However, how much they affect it will depend on how you use your car. There are bad driving habits that will in fact, cause parts of your car to wear out more quickly. The easiest example to point to in this case is how idling causes your engine to work when it shouldn’t be, which decreases its overall lifespan while braking and accelerating too quickly can really do a number on your brake pads. Be a more conscientious driver and your car will be a less expensive one.
Get better at some car DIY
Now, when it comes to fixing your car engine or ensuring that the suspension is working as well as it should, maybe you should leave it to the professionals to ensure the safety of your car. However, there are quite a few car DIY tasks that most owners can reasonably and easily undertake on their own. Things like replacing the spark plugs and replacing your brake pads aren’t going to be that difficult at all and will save you the cost of going to a mechanic with it. Of course, if you don’t feel confident in your fixes, it’s best to get the peace of mind a professional can provide.
Don’t ignore “small” issues
If you see a little crack in your windscreen glass or you hear a slightly weird sound when you are braking, you might think that it’s not really a symptom of anything too important. You’re not going to take your car to the garage unless there’s a major problem. However, there’s good reason to get in touch with windscreen repair services as soon as you can and to act on other symptoms that might seem innocuous at first. Often, they can easily lead to much more major issues, such as small crack in a windscreen leading to it eventually breaking if you hit a bump in the road.
Don’t let your garage provide the parts
Now, this isn’t an assumption that every mechanic is going to try to rip you off by increasing the price of any replacement parts that they find for you. However, it is extremely common practice for there to be a mark-up on parts when you get them from a garage. It’s like any other store, they make their money by selling parts for more than the trade price they paid. As such, you can usually get your replacement parts cheaper by going to the source, like a local auto parts dealer. You don’t want your parts to be so cheap that you have reasons to doubt their reliability, but you can always decrease the costs by looking outside of your garage’s offerings.
Choose your mechanics with care
A mechanic you can trust is one that will hopefully not overcharge you. By getting an idea of the average repair costs for certain tasks, you can develop an intuition for when you are being overcharged and when it’s time to change mechanics. However, when it comes to cars of certain manufacturers or types, you should also keep an eye out for garages that specialise in those specific vehicles. For instance, some specialise in Toyotas, others specialise in RVs and so on. These mechanics tend to know your specific type of vehicle better and therefore their repairs are likely to be more reliable in the long-term, so you don’t have to visit them quite as often.
Save up a car repair fund
Yes, it can be difficult to find the room in your budget to start saving up for something completely outside of your usual expenses. However, there are big benefits to being able to put some money aside so that, when your car does need repairs, it doesn’t cost as much to repair. The reason that it doesn’t cost as much is simply that you’re not as likely to need to rely on credit to pay for those repairs. When you pay using credit, then you’re not just paying the charge, you’re going to have to cover the interest and fees for relying on that credit as well. It can be a good idea to look over your past annual repair costs, figure out how much you’re likely to spend on taking care of your car and working to save up that amount.
If you want to save money when it comes to taking care of your car, then you need to be diligent and mindful every step of the way, from buying it to the moment you get hit with a repair bill. The tips above can hopefully help with that.
Photographs courtesy of motorverso.com