The simple truth is that owning a car costs money, both in terms of buying that car and maintaining it properly. But for most people, a car is also a necessity when it comes to getting to work, taking the kids to school and even going on vacations. So how can you keep your car in good shape while reducing care costs as much as possible? There are three major things you can do to keep your auto maintenance costs down (without having to learn how to do auto work on your own):
- Stick to a Regular Maintenance Schedule
This may seem counterintuitive: The way to keep auto maintenance costs down is to pay for maintenance? But this has actually been borne out by research time and time again. Putting a modest investment into a regular maintenance schedule will prevent costly problems down the road. There are a few things in particular you should pay attention to: fluid levels, brake pads and tire rotations. These are all extremely low-cost services that prevent extremely expensive breakdowns.
- Use an Independent Auto Repair Shop
Unless you’re under warranty, auto maintenance plans from the dealership are likely to cost you way more. This is partially because dealers tend to use original equipment manufacturer parts (you can think of them as being brand-name parts), while your local car repair shop can give you the option of using less expensive but still high-quality aftermarket parts. Independent auto shops are also more motivated to give you deals, since they have to compete with one another for business.
- Know When It’s Time for a New Vehicle
It’s smart and thrifty to keep repairing your vehicle — up to a point. A well-maintained car can easily last a decade or even longer. But because car technology is progressing so rapidly, you’ll get much better fuel economy (as well as easier handling and more robust safety features) from a new vehicle. If you have an older car and aren’t sure whether it’s worth continuing to repair it, you may just want to ask the technicians at your local auto shop for their opinions; they don’t sell cars, unlike an auto dealership, so they have no reason to sway you one way or another.
Do you have any tips to share on keeping auto maintenance costs down? Give your feedback and join the discussion in the comments.