[Article by Rachel MacDonald]
The last thing you want to think about when you purchase a shiny new car is paying for future repairs when it breaks down. Yet repairs and maintenance are major components of the overall cost of car ownership, and are important to consider as you work out a budget. There’s nothing worse than a massive and unexpected bill at the mechanic’s.
Slash your maintenance costs and have more to set aside for your next holiday by taking these preventive steps.
Become a more efficient driver.
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to reduce your maintenance bills is to keep your car in top working order. Well maintained cars are more efficient and in better shape. Keep a light touch on the accelerator and avoid slamming on the brakes whenever possible. You can also keep mileage down by combining multiple trips, carpooling, and seeking out alternative forms of transportation.
Keep a record of your full service history.
Getting your car checked out on a regular basis requires a bit of an investment, but it can help you save on significant repairs down the road and is well worth it. You’ll want to maintain documentation of your full service history, because this will help you protect your warranty. It can also help you sell your car down the road.
Take care of your tires.
Driving on under-inflated tires is an easy way to burn through unnecessary fuel and put strain on your car’s engine. At the same time, over-inflating your tires causes extra wear to the treads and reduces the tires’ lifespan. You’ll want to check your tires regularly to make sure they’re at the recommended level of pressure, and order replacements online to get better deals than what you’d find at the dealership. Costco is a good source if you want competitive pricing on tires. They fill their tires with nitrogen instead of air which results in more consistent tire pressure and improved fuel performance.
Don’t be afraid to haggle.
If the thought of a trip to the mechanic’s sends you into a cold sweat, you’re not alone! Many of us rank it up there with visiting the dentist or taking an exam, afraid of the high bill that’s likely to result. If a quote seems unusually high, try haggling. You can ask for a breakdown of all the work the mechanic suggests, so that you can get a clear picture of the services rendered. The important thing is to ask for this before you agree for the work to begin, and ask for quotes from several other mechanics at the same time. This gives you added leverage when you want to bargain for a cheaper price.
Buy your own car parts.
As you look at the breakdown of a maintenance bill, you may notice that the most costly components are often the auto parts themselves. It’s not always in the mechanic’s best interest to get you the best deal on car parts. You can source parts on your own and benefit from added discounts. Try visiting a local scrap merchant, an auction site, or a specialty parts supplier along with staying up to date on the latest car news from sources like car sales. If you can find a better deal, hold off on the work until you’ve ordered them.
With proper care and a bit of haggling, you can downsize your bills in no time. These are just a few ways to cut the cost of car ownership just a little bit, leaving more money in your bank account to splurge on a new car when the time comes to trade it in.
Image Source: Poppy Thomas-Hill / Wikimedia Commons