Consumer prices surged to 8.6% in the year to May as the cost of living crisis really put the squeeze on people here in the USA. It’s no wonder then that 77% of Americans reported feelings of anxiety over their personal finances in a recent survey.
When money is tight one of the first areas that we often neglect is our car maintenance. Whilst it may sensible to save money on vehicle costs and spend it instead on groceries and utility bills, it can be an approach that ends up costing you more money in the long run.
Frequent car maintenance can save you a bucket of cash, helping you to avoid shelling out hundreds of dollars in unnecessary repairs. In this article we explore some of the best ways to cut your vehicle maintenance costs and keep your car in tip-top condition at the same time.
Measure and Save
The minimum tread depth for a passenger vehicle tire in most states is 2/32 of an inch, or 1.6mm. Most car manuals recommend checking your tread depth at the end of every week or after every long journey.
Set aside 5 minutes every Sunday to head outside and check the tread depth on all four of your tires. You can do this with a tread depth gauge or by using the penny trick (see video below), once you’re done make a note of the depth and then put $5 into a savings jar.
If you do this every week you’ll save money through unnecessary repairs and fuel consumption by knowing when to replace your tires. In addition to that you’ll have $260 at the end of the year which should be enough to replace at least two tires.
When it does come time to buy new tires, be sure to check out a vendor such as Tire Agent that offer mileage warranties and great tire brands like Radar.
(Honest Abe demonstrates the penny trick.)
Use The Correct Oil
Not having new or clean oil in your car can overheat your engine and gaskets, leading to a whole heap of catastrophic issues under the hood.
The best way to keep your vehicle running smoothly is to change your oil every six months or every 6,000 miles, whichever comes first.
If you’re unsure how to change your oil, check with the manual for your vehicle or head online to see if you can find a guide or YouTube tutorial on how to do it.
(Beginner’s guide on how to change your own car oil.)
Inflate Your Tires
We’ve discussed tread depth but there’s one other obvious aspect of tire care that often goes overlooked – tire pressure.
Filling your tires up to the correct pressure can be the difference between paying $45 to fill up your car or $50.
Extrapolate that out over 12 months and all of a sudden you’re looking at one hell of a saving, just from having your tires inflate to the right level.
Drive to Speed Limits
Whilst it’s fun to put the pedal to the metal and open up the engine on a quiet road, it’s also foolish. Not only are you risking your life and the lives of others by driving recklessly, but you’re also increasing the risk of your car failing over time.
Higher speeds put more pressure on your engine and parts, making them more susceptible to failure. In addition to that, driving above speed limits dramatically reduces your fuel economy and can increase your gas bills by as much as 15%.
Prevention is Better Than the Cure
Cynics say that services are nothing more than a money maker for car dealerships and whilst that may have an element of truth behind it, we shouldn’t write off services altogether.
It’s prudent to get your car serviced every year or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. A reputable service provider will cover engine oil and oil filter, brakes and steering, fluid and coolant levels and your lights, tires and exhaust. The cost of a service is dwarfed by the cost of potential faults that a routine service could help to avoid.