When it comes to car maintenance, many folks prefer to depend on auto shops and mechanics’ advice for fluid fills, repairs, and tire care. Many automotive repair companies and mechanics have solid reputations, but deceitful practices such as misleading sales tactics continue to lead to lawsuits and frustrated customers. The average car maintenance cost can be a large portion of the cost of owning a new car.
To avoid getting a bad deal on your car’s maintenance and repairs, here are nine clever ways to save money on all things automotive including tips that you can use to save money on car maintenance right now – today!
How To Save A Fortune On Car MaintenanceHow do you save money on car maintenance? Here are 9 great tips! Click To Tweet
Monthly DIY Engine Check
Even if you know very little about cars, you can still check your own engine fluids as a part of a monthly car maintenance routine. LifeHacker lists five engine fluids you can check on your own: engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, and brake fluid (LifeHacker also includes helpful videos for each fluid mentioned).
By performing your own car inspection on a monthly basis, you’ll be more aware of what needs changing or refilling and when, rather than relying on quick-lube shops’ “every couple of months” guidelines. It’s also very important to check and clean your car battery on a regular basis to avoid corrosion and maintain its functionality for several years to come.
Buy Your Own Auto Parts Online
Dealers charge a premium for automotive parts, and local auto shops may not be much cheaper. If you’re doing your own repairs or having your car repaired at a local shop that has a flexible policy on bringing in your own parts, you can save money on car maintenance by purchasing auto parts online.
Autozone.com, Parts Train, and Parts Geek are popular websites for affordable car parts with favorable consumer benefits ranging from free/fast shipping and low price guarantees to large inventories and money-back guarantees. Save 15% On Online Ship-To-Home Orders Of $100 Or More PLUS Free Shipping! Use Coupon Code: SAVE15
Check Your Car Warranty
All too often, people begrudgingly pay for pricey car maintenance work without checking the warranty first. If you have an older car with more than 100,000 miles then there may not be much left on the warranty (though it’s worth checking!), but a newer car will likely have some parts covered.
To check if your car has a factory warranty, Cars Direct recommends investigating with your car’s VIN number (on the dashboard or on the driver’s side door), contacting your dealership, or requesting a CARFAX vehicle history report. You may just find that a new battery or perhaps an $800 repair job for your engine might be paid for with the warranty instead of out-of-pocket. You have nothing to lose by checking, right?
Delay Oil Changes
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Change your oil every 3,000 miles!” But nowadays, this archaic car maintenance guideline is hurting drivers more than helping because it not only wastes perfectly good oil, but it also wastes money by sending them to the auto shop every 3-4 months for an oil change.
Seriously, you don’t need an oil change every 3,000 miles. Car experts are quick to point out that newer cars can oftentimes go as many as 5,000-10,000 miles before another oil change is necessary, and only quick-lube places and unscrupulous auto shops – which rely on a steady stream of paying, 3,000-mile abiding customers – still advocate for frequent oil changes.
Check out CalRecycle’s CheckYourNumber.org, which is a useful online tool for anyone in the US who wants to guesstimate when they need another oil change instead of relying on the 3-month/3,000 mile standard proposed by the auto lube center.
Don’t Pay for “Check Engine” Diagnosis
Some dealerships and auto shops charge as much as $90 for a “Check Engine” light diagnosis. This is sometimes factored into the overall cost of the car maintenance tasks performed – if you have repairs done at the same place as the diagnosis – but sometimes the diagnosis is its own separate cost.
With the plethora of OBD2 scanners and apps for smartphones on the market for as little as $10-25 (for basic models), why would you pay someone else to diagnose your car for you? These scanners and apps allow you to figure out what’s going on with your car and determine if it needs an immediate repair. You might even choose to repair your car on your own!
Compare Auto Shops
If you run into a serious engine or mechanical problem with your car, then taking it to an experienced, reputable professional is your best bet. Unless you have a dedicated mechanic you rely on for all your automotive needs, shop around different auto shops for estimates on the specific repair job you need. You’ll want to limit your search to shops that are ASE Certified to ensure quality service from recognized mechanics.
Asking friends, family members, and neighbors for their preferred auto repair specialists is a great way to find potential mechanics and checking the auto shop’s Yelp reviews from other customers won’t hurt, either. Be sure to get written estimates from auto shops to use as leverage for the shop’s competitors during your estimate search, as well as protecting your wallet when it comes time to pay for the repairs later.
Check RepairPal.com for Prices
Not sure if you’re getting a good deal on your car repairs? Then do some research on RepairPal before signing anything at the auto shop. This website will give you an idea of what certain types of repairs cost for your type of car in your area.
Over 4 million people in the US use RepairPal for getting estimates on car repairs, and the certified shops listed in the directory align themselves with RepairPal’s fair price standards (otherwise, RepairPal refunds you the difference).
The shops also guarantee a minimum 12-month or 12,000-mile warranty on the repairs performed. Just to be safe, you can also read verified reviews from other customers who had their cars repaired at an auto shop you’re considering for your automotive work.
AAA Car Care Center Savings
Are you a AAA member? If so, then you could get 10% off on labor costs and 2-year/24,000 mile warranty on car repairs performed at one of the AAA Car Care Centers or AAA-certified auto shop. Enter your zip code on the AAA website to see if there’s a shop in your area!
Get Your Tires Fixed for Free
Some tire companies offer free rotations, balancing, and flat repair for returning customers who bought tires from them in the past. This includes warehouse clubs such as Sam’s Club and Costco, though Sam’s Club members get the added benefit of qualifying for some free tire services even if they didn’t buy their tires from Sam’s Club.
Unless you’re a seasoned mechanic, wading through the murky task of performing or paying for car maintenance can be frustrating sometimes. But it doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as you do some research beforehand to lay out as many options as possible before going to the auto shop.
What about you? Did I forget any good ways and tips on how to save money on car maintenance? How do you save money on car maintenance? I’d love to hear your tips in the comment section below.