Properly maintaining your car can be expensive. Unscrupulous mechanics, costly dealer servicing schedules and unexpected breakdowns and accidents can quickly burn a hole in your pocket. However, there are a number of simple things you can do to save money on your vehicle repairs and maintenance.
- Familiarise yourself with your car
You don’t have to be a qualified mechanic to gather some basic knowledge about your car. A good starting point is reading the owner’s manual. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the basics of your car. In the manual, there may also be suggested car maintenance tasks to do regularly. These can include directions for when and how to check tyre pressure and the battery, as well as change the oil. Aim to stick to these recommended jobs and timeframes.
Besides the manual, you can also do some online research about your particular vehicle make and model. Read vehicle reviews, dealer feedback and checkout automotive forums to find out what people are saying about your car. You can often find useful hints and tips for fixing common problems with your vehicle.
The more you know about what kinds of problems your vehicle is susceptible to, the better you will be able to identify these issues early on and save money on repairs.
- Find a reputable mechanic
Every car needs regular servicing and some inevitable repairs from time to time. And for that, you will need a good mechanic. Unfortunately, finding a reliable mechanic can be difficult. Dodgy mechanics are notorious for recommending repairs that you don’t need and overcharging for parts and labour. A good mechanic, however, will look to build a long-term relationship and will only recommend the services that your car actually needs.
Finding a good mechanic can be tricky, especially if you don’t understand much about cars. Start your search by speaking to friends and family (especially any that have some knowledge about cars). Ask them if they have a preferred mechanic and what they like about the services they provide. You can also look online and check reviews. It may take some time but finding a mechanic who is good value for money will help you save in the long term.
As you start to narrow down your search, you can interview prospective mechanics and see what services they provide. Ask about deals, like loyalty discounts or warranties, or if they have cost-saving options.
For instance, they may offer you a choice between new or second-hand car parts if something needs to be replaced. Alternatively, you can buy car parts yourself and ask the mechanic to install them.
You need to be confident in your car knowledge and research skills to get the best results from the latter method though. This includes sourcing the correct parts — you don’t want to end up with Mazda 6 parts for your Mazda CX5 — and ensuring they’re of a good quality.
- Pay attention to warning signs
If you want to save on car repairs, you need to fix any issues as soon as possible. Therefore, you need to be on the look-out for any signs of car problems. Dashboard lights like the “check engine” or “check oil level” lights are a clear sign that your car needs attention and should not be ignored.
Other common signs to look for include strange noises, like rattling or squeaking or grinding, any signs of smoke from under the bonnet or the exhaust, difficulties starting the car, or any problems handling the vehicle like problems braking, steering issues, shuddering or vibrations.
If you notice any of these signs, you need to get your car checked as soon as possible. While you may end up paying small amounts for various minor repairs, chances are you will save yourself serious money by avoiding more major repairs down the road.
- Learn to do the small jobs yourself
Save money on labour by doing small jobs yourself. Even with minimal car knowledge, you can change wiper blades and air filters, replace burnt-out headlights and old brake fluid, and change the oil. If it’s your first time doing one of these tasks, you can ask a knowledgeable friend for help, look in the owner’s manual for instructions or find a how-to guide on the internet.
Take care of your car and save money at the same time by following these steps. Remember to stay on top of your car’s maintenance and to have a trustworthy and affordable mechanic.