Save by Maintaining Your Car Yourself

Save by Maintaining Your Car Yourself

Maintaining your car doesn't have to be stressful or inconvenient. It is a machine that requires constant upkeep, but while this may initially seem like a daunting task, it's oftentimes not as complicated as the mechanic makes it sound. Here are a few easy steps to maintaining your car that will cut down on both cost and stress:

Buy the parts yourself! "“ Yes, the mechanic will get you the part you need. Unfortunately, the cost for them to purchase the part is passed on to you. Going to an auto parts store for the parts you need will significantly cut down on repair costs. Take a gander down at your local Auto Zone (or something similar). Armed with just the kind of car you have, the staff at auto parts stores will help you find all the parts you will need. If you're not comfortable with performing any of the maintenance on your car, bring it to a mechanic with the parts you bought. You will still be charged labor, but it will be cheaper than the mechanic ordering the part on your behalf. Don't be lazy, get off your ass!

Oil Change "“ The most often-changed fluid in your car, oil changes can really begin to add up if you're driving on a regular basis. There are entire companies built around changing oil, so clearly, there must be a trick that has escaped the common person. While I could explain step-by-step how do it, a video is easier, so here:

  • Oil Change Frequency "“ While it is very inconvenient, oil should be changed every 3-5000 miles or 3 months, whichever is sooner.
  • Oil Filter Change Frequency "“ Mechanics recommend the filter be changed each time the oil is changed. All the oil in a car passes through the filter and it is designed to clean the oil of any dirt and chunks in the oil. When it gets too dirty, the oil bypasses the filter and all that dirt gets to dance around the important parts of your engine.
  • Part Purchase "“ The Owner's Manual will tell you what kind of oil and filters are needed. Most modern cars also have the type of oil needed imprinted on the oil tank cap. Both can be found at any local auto parts store and most gas stations.

Transmission Fluid and Filter Change "“ Transmissions require extremely clean fluid to operate properly. Some mechanics will tell you that only the fluid needs changed and that the filter is good for the life of the transmission and car. Well, your transmission will have a much shorter lifespan if you fail to change the filter. Both the transmission fluid and filter should be changed every 30,000 miles. Again, the Owner's Manual will tell you which fluid and filter are needed. The fluid is also listed on the transmission fluid cap.

Tires, Brakes and Brake Fluid "“ City driving really takes a toll on these items and failing to maintain your wheels can really put a damper in your evening if that evening is wet, snowy or full of other drivers. Try to check your tires every month or two. You will notice the treads slowly disappearing. During EVERY trip to the mechanic, be sure and ask how many miles you have left on your brake pads and tires. When you get close to 0 miles, replace them.

  • Tire Rotation "“ This is done because most cars are not all-wheel or 4-wheel drive. As a result, some tires get more wear and tear than others. Rotating them elongates the life of your car. For safety purposes, replace your tires individually as they wear out. Don't wait for all of them to do so.
  • Bonus! "“ If you're really into avoiding mechanics, keep a list of tread depth on each tire. Instead of miles, ask your mechanic how shallow the treads can get and still be useful. Test all of your tires every oil change you perform and you'll spot the time for replacement easily.

Car Wash "“ You should ask yourself the following question: Do you live somewhere with a workable hose? If the answer is yes, buy a bucket, a large car sponge and some car soap and wash your own car. It's convenient to have someone else wash it, but are they better than you could be? Definitely not.

Vehicles can often last much longer than advertised with proper maintenance, so putting in the time and limited effort can really pay off. Your car will be with you for a long time, so there's no reason to neglect it like a red-headed stepchild. Care for it and it will transport you to and fro, not unlike a red-headed stepchild actually.