Small Cost Car Maintenance with Big Results
You already know that sticking to a maintenance schedule can help your car run better and have a longer life. Yet you might let your maintenance schedule fall behind because you feel like these services cost too much. The reality is that paying for the maintenance will cost you much less than the repairs that will inevitably follow, thereby saving you money in the long run.
In addition, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on maintenance to make a big difference to your car. Some of the most important maintenance tasks are also some of the cheapest.
Here are a few essential car maintenance tasks that cost a little but mean a lot to your vehicle:
A cheap oil change can be worth thousands of dollars in the potential repairs it saves you. A regular oil change keeps the engine lubricated and running clean. If you wait too long to change the oil, it will become thick and will move through the engine more slowly, causing the engine to work harder. The engine could overheat or experience other problems.
Getting a cheap oil change every three to five months is one of the best things you can do to keep your engine healthy and to prolong the life of your car. For less than $50, you’ll save a lot of money and aggravation later.
New Air Filter
Your car’s air filter keeps debris out of the engine, such as bugs, leaves, dirt and pollen. These items can gum up the engine and make it work harder, again putting it at danger of overheating or experiencing other problems.
Changing the air filter isn’t a demanding task. You only need to do it about every 15,000 miles or so, which can be about every year. However, if you drive in rough conditions, you may need to change it more often. For example, you may need to change the air filter more frequently if you live on a gravel road or if you like to go off-roading. You may also need to change the air filter if you live in an area that gets heavy pollen and grass seed activity in the spring.
Just ask your mechanic to take a look at the air filter whenever you’re in for another service.
New Spark Plugs
How frequently you need to change your spark plugs depends on the type of spark plugs you have. Some won’t need to be replaced for 100,000 miles, while others will need to be changed every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.
The spark plugs play an important role in the operation of the engine, your electrical system, your head lights and more. If you wait until a spark plug dies, you could find yourself stranded on the side of the road because your car won’t start or won’t go very far.
It’s best to ask your mechanic to check out the state of your spark plugs every other year. Not only can your mechanic let you know if the spark plugs currently need attention, but your mechanic can also give you feedback about the expected life span of your spark plugs so you can create the right maintenance schedule.
New Gas Filter
One of the biggest expenses of car ownership is fuel. You can easily spend thousands of dollars a year on gas even if you drive only the average number of miles and have a fairly fuel-efficient vehicle. There are many things you can do to improve your car’s fuel efficiency and save money, such as keeping your tires properly inflated and controlling your speed. Another important thing you can do to improve fuel efficiency is to change your gas filter regularly.
Most vehicles need a new fuel filter every 30,000 miles, or about every two years. By changing the fuel filter, you ensure the passage of clean fuel, reducing the demand on your vehicle. The filter takes impurities out of the fuel and keeps them out the fuel line and other components. Clean fuel moves through the system more quickly and is burned more efficiently.
Ask your mechanic to check your fuel filter during your annual maintenance. If you notice that you are having to fill up your tank more regularly, ask your mechanic to check the filter sooner.
Tire Rotation and Balancing
Healthy tires are key to your car’s optimal performance. With healthy tires, your car will handle better and will be more fuel-efficient. Your car will also be safer with healthy tires that have thick tread to improve traction, helping you stay in control in slippery conditions, such as rain snow and mud.
The best way to prolong the health of your tires is to have them regularly balanced and rotated. Balancing the tires ensures that they have even air pressure and weight so that the tread can wear down more evenly. Rotating the tires involves removing them and changing their position on the car. While driving, the car can pull to one side or another, can be weighed down with cargo, or can take damage unevenly on rugged terrain. Rotating the tires ensures that no one tire is exposed to more wear than others.
You should have your tires balanced and rotated every 15,000 miles or so. Just ask your mechanic about it every third oil change or so to make it easy to remember.
Don’t think that you have to give your car a major (read: expensive) tune up every year to keep it healthy. Just taking small steps like getting a regular cheap oil change can go a long way to keeping your car in top shape and helping to extend its life. These are some of the small maintenance tasks that have the biggest impact for most vehicles, but your mechanic can give you feedback for your specific vehicle to let you know what is most important.