Car Maintenance Tips: What Every Driver Should Know
Among the many factors that impact the total cost of owning a car, regular maintenance expenses can be significant. You’ll spend about $1,200 per year to maintain a new vehicle, according to a study by AAA. Luckily, there are several ways savvy drivers can keep their cars in top shape while saving money. Here are our best car care tips, including three user-friendly DIY car maintenance projects.
Don’t skip these preventative items
While you might have a little wiggle room with some car repairs—like patching a punctured tire instead of replacing it—there are a few things you shouldn’t skip:
- Oil changes: Thanks to improved technology, the old adage “every 3,000 miles” may no longer be correct—but you can’t forego oil changes altogether. Stick to your manufacturer’s recommendations. If oil is left in an engine for too long, sludge can end up damaging engine parts instead of protecting them, potentially costing you major dollars.
- Tire rotations and wheel alignments: Keep up with these two services to make sure your tires don’t incur any extra wear and tear, and that your overall steering mechanism is working properly. Experts recommend getting your tires rotated each time you get an oil change and your alignment checked every other oil change.
Think twice about these services
More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to car maintenance. Here are a few things you should carefully consider before opening your wallet:
- Supplemental service guidelines from a dealership: Your dealer’s recommendations for routine service could be above and beyond what’s recommended in your owner’s manual. Compare your dealer’s suggestions with your manual—you might find out you don’t need to change your spark plugs at 30,000 miles, for example.
- Air conditioning tune-up: Experts agree if you’re getting sufficient cold air, there’s no need to tune up the system.
- Premium gas: Some cars do need higher-octane gas—as per the owner’s manual—but many cars don’t, and splurging on better gas won’t increase your car’s performance.
DIY car maintenance projects
Keeping your car in great shape doesn’t have to mean taking it to the shop. Check out these three easy, affordable DIY projects:
- Keep it clean: Washing the grime and salt off your car’s body and underside will help prevent chips, rust and paint fading. Plus, studies show a dirty car is less fuel efficient. Be sure to wipe down the interior, too, and consider adding extra exterior protection with a high-quality wax every six months.
- Check the air pressure in your tires regularly: AAA recommends monthly. Low tire pressure can ding your fuel economy and lead to a flat.
- Change your wiper blades: They’re an important part of your car’s safety system. Check and replace your wiper blades every six to 12 months—it’s quick and easy to do at home.
Is your car maintenance budget stretched too thin?
If keeping up with regular car care is costing more than you expected, refinancing your auto loan might help you cover the gap. On average, customers have saved over $1,500 by refinancing their auto loan through us—that’s enough to purchase and install two new sets of tires.1