Owning and operating a car is an expensive proposition. In addition to the starting costs of the vehicle itself and insurance, you also have to keep up with gas prices and vehicle maintenance. All of these expenses can add up quickly, so it becomes extremely important for conscious motorists to pay attention to ways they can save money. Many of these opportunities arise from taking care of maintenance issues - and a lot of the costs come about when the need for auto repair is avoided.
That's why Consumer Reports delved into the best ways to avoid expensive repairs. Here are a few of the top strategies they came up with, along with some other helpful tips:
Don't postpone maintenance
One of the easiest ways to keep car repair costs down is by keeping up with scheduled maintenance throughout your ownership of the vehicle. You should be taking your automobile in for brake service and tire rotation regularly, and skipping even one of these appointments can lead to excessive damage that will hurt your wallet. These are also important steps to improve the safety of a vehicle, so no one should bypass a session.
Always change the fluids
While you should be in the habit of taking care of maintenance at standard intervals, it can't hurt to pay extra attention to the fluid levels, especially in the engine. A study from AAA found that most drivers wait too long to change the oil, engine coolant and other fluids essential to the operation of their car's motor, according to Consumer Reports. Letting the levels of these liquids drop too low can negatively impact the function of an engine and cause expensive damage - all without drivers knowing that anything is wrong. Be sure to consult your owner's manual to find out how often you should be checking these fluids, and make sure you stick to the schedule.
Forge a relationship with a professional
As you begin to bring your car in for regular maintenance, you may start to form a relationship with the mechanics and workers at an auto repair franchise. Not only does this make the entire experience more comfortable for you personally, but it also increases the odds that the workers will understand the vehicle history and can zero in on any potential problems. By consistently going to the same repair shop, you also can decrease the time involved in diagnosing the vehicle, which, in turn, can reduce the amount labor required and the costs involved.