Five Money-Saving Car Maintenance Tips to Suit Your Budget
3/17/2017 11:11 AM
1.Check Your Fluids
your vehicle’s oil, coolant, transmission, power steering and brake fluids is
fairly simple and can potentially save you hundreds of dollars in repairs. You
can easily locate each of these fluid reservoirs by consulting your vehicle’s
owner’s manual, which is usually found in the glove compartment.
engine oil may be indicative of a leak, which could lead to major engine
problems if left unattended. If your oil appears dirty, it’s probably time for
an oil change – dirty oil can gunk up an engine’s moving parts and the engine
will seize if the oil doesn’t properly lubricate it.
coolant levels may mean a leaky radiator or head gasket, which could be
disastrous for your engine and lead to overheating.
and power steering fluids are critical to check because, if low, brakes could
fail and this could lead to a collision. Have your mechanic look for leaks in
brake lines and the power steering pump and lines if the fluids are low.
Catching leaks before they become big can save you from major engine repairs.
Be sure to check your transmission fluid as well – clean fluid is red while a
brownish or brackish color indicates you may need a transmission flush along
with a new filter.
fluids should be changed as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Check
your owner’s manual to determine how often you should service fluids.
2. Don’t Ignore Your Check Engine Light
us have experienced that moment of panic when the check engine light
illuminates on the dashboard. This little light is an indication that something
may be wrong with the vehicle, and it also registers an error code sent from
the vehicle’s computer. The problem may be as small as a loose gas cap or a
misfiring spark plug, but can also mean a more serious issue with the
electrical system, engine functionality or emissions.
dash lights – like the battery or oil indicators – can provide clues to what
the problem may be. If your check engine light is blinking, the vehicle has a
serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. A solid check engine
light means you should bring it into your mechanic to have a diagnostic run as
soon as possible. Procrastinating could lead to costly repairs, so it’s smart
to get your vehicle looked at sooner, rather than later.
3. What’s that Noise?
creaks and the grinding sound of metal-on-metal are sounds that shouldn’t be
ignored. If your engine is whining or squealing, chances are that it’s time to
get your belts replaced or that the tensioner pulley that holds them tight is
failing. A snapped belt can leave you stranded on the side of the road and can
cause significant engine damage. Replacing them when they become loose and worn
is a relatively cheap fix, and this will help you avoid a more costly
sound of grinding metal when you hit the brakes means it’s time to replace your
brake pads. Brake pads are manufactured with metal hair at the bottom to alert
drivers when they are worn, and these pads typically wear out anywhere between
25,000 and 70,000 miles. This is largely dependent on the type of pads
installed on the vehicle, the type of driver you are and traffic conditions.
sound to listen for is creaking coming from your vehicle’s suspension. This may
indicate a bad axle, bad shocks or struts or other suspension issues. If your
shocks are bad, the other components that make up your vehicle’s suspension
will suffer and wear out quicker. If your CV boot rips, the axle can wear out
and even snap. This domino effect can rack up repair costs, so it’s best to
replace these components as they begin to fail.
4. Tire Maintenance
is an often overlooked, but important item on your vehicle maintenance
checklist. Worn or underinflated tires can drastically reduce your stopping
distance when braking, and improper alignment can cause tires to wear unevenly.
If your tire tread is looking low, use the penny test to determine whether or
not they should be replaced. It’s a simple test where you insert a penny into
the tread channel with the top of President Lincoln’s head directed toward the
tire. If you can see the top of his head when you look from the side, it’s time
to replace your tire.
also important to rotate your tires to promote even wear because front tires
typically wear out faster than the rear ones do. Properly maintaining your
vehicle’s tires can also mean savings at the gas pump, so pay attention to the
only part of your vehicle that touches the road.
5. Use a Trusted Mechanic
a little tender love and care goes a long way in helping to keep your vehicle