You need a car to go to work and school and to run errands, but a car can also be expensive. Even if your car is fully paid off, there are a lot of costs associated with it. The key to making sure car ownership remains economical is to figure out what you really need to be spending money on and where you are wasting money.
Comparison Shop for Mechanics
Do you automatically take your car to the dealer for any repairs or maintenance you need? This may be necessary for some types of repairs, but in many situations, an independent mechanic can do the work for considerably less than a dealer. It is worth comparing the estimates you get from the dealership versus independent mechanics. You should be sure that you get a written estimate from anyone you talk to and that you research online to see what other customers are saying about them. Keep in mind, however, that the cheapest solution is not always the most economical. For example, there are cheap kits or online do-it-yourself tips for headline restoration, but the results are short-lived. A somewhat costlier professional job will last much longer.
Find Cheaper Car Insurance
Looking at mechanics is not the only comparison shopping you should do. You should also shop around for your car insurance. You may be able to get quotes for cheap car insurance with online comparison engines or by calling insurance companies and seeing what they offer. Although it may seem like a hassle, it is worth looking around for lower prices each time you renew your insurance since rate increases can creep up.
Ignore Older Maintenance Recommendations
Unless your car is at least 20 years old if not older, many of the must-do maintenance recommendations you may have heard are no longer valid. Modern cars are all very different, and you can read the owner’s manual and check what is recommended for your specific make and model. For example, the old recommendation is to have your oil changed every 3,000 miles. This is no longer the case, and modern cars usually need their oil changed at 5,000-7,5000 miles. Contemporary cars also generally do not need lube jobs or tune-ups. The computer systems in modern cars keeps track of any issues and will alert you if there is a problem.
Pay Attention to Newer Maintenance Recommendations
Your check engine light remains important and should never be ignored. Having it looked at early can mean that a problem is taken care of while it is still small and affordable instead of after it becomes a big, expensive issue. Newer cars do not need to have their system flushed unless they have been in an extraordinary situation, such as being driven through high water. You do need to have the brake fluid checked every two or three years since in newer cars, the system is not sealed. In general, whatever the age of your car, you should read the owner’s manual and follow the specifications there.