Wholeheartedly adore your car? Or is it just a people mover? Either way, maintenance is critical for the health of your vehicle and is therefore a great investment. But ... could you possibly be paying too much? Here are five easy suggestions for cutting those maintenance expenses down to size.
1. Use the manufacturer's maintenance schedule, not the dealer's.
When your dealership tells you your car is "due" for x, y and z maintenance tasks, verify exactly what that means. The manufacturer's recommendations? Surprise! They probably are referring to their own schedule, which likely recommends more frequent work ... and more money out of your pocket.
2. Buy regular gas, not premium.
It's a fact: most vehicles run just fine on regular gas. That even includes cars designed to run on premium fuel. Unless you're a car buff whose mechanical "baby" must have only the best, opt for good old regular gas ... and save your money for important stuff like repairs.
3. Always shop for estimates. Never just pick a repair place out of the yellow pages. Ask around your friends and colleagues and search the Web for recommendations.
Remember that dealerships are expensive. According to the Car Talk website (online home of the wonderful NPR show), dealerships will charge about 18% more than independents
. If your dealer is particularly fabulous or if you have an odd or complicated problem, then go. Otherwise, consider a reputable independent.
4. Don't over-insure. If your car is kind of old and (let's be honest) in second-rate condition, why pay for full coverage? Always, always get good liability insurance, but consider ditching the rest.
Can't decide? MSN Money Central
suggests adding your deductable to the annual cost of collision and comprehensive coverage. If the total is more than half of your vehicle's wholesale value, you might decide to go for liability-only insurance instead ... and pocket the savings.
5. Always consider DIY. No one is suggesting changing your own oil when you're busy with job, kids etc. ... and when you can get an oil change done for $15. But there are lots of other little car tasks you might consider DIY'ing
. Wiper blade replacement, for instance, is easy. Other jobs, like repairing a scratch, take some research and work, but you'll save a ton.