When it comes to driving a car many of us are slaves to the prices at the gas pump and necessary maintenance to keep the engine running smoothly. Sometimes just the mention of hiring a mechanic brings us to tears. To keep costly repairs to a minimum and the “gas line item” in your budget on track try a few of these cost savings tips.
Find a reputable mechanic
As the daughter of a retired auto mechanic I am lucky in the “repairs” department. My dad has always been able to fix my car or at the very least tell me what needs to be fixed before I go in for repairs so I don’t get taken advantage of. I recently watched Today Show episode (you can view it here) about how car dealerships often take advantage of unsuspecting customers who just want to get their car fixed, no matter what the cost.
While the “big name” repair shops carry a reputation based on good marketing I would recommend considering your local repair guy down the street. These folks not only know what they are doing they rely on repeat business and referrals to keep their business going. Because of this they are often extremely honest and reliable. To find one near you view Angie’s List for recommendations or ask your family and friends.
Maintain your car
Keeping your car healthy is sort of like keeping your body healthy; by doing so you reduce the risk of breakdowns and costly repairs. So getting you car in for regular check ups, oil changes, and scheduled maintenance is important.
- Perform regular preventive maintenance. Scheduling maintenance for your car at regular intervals will allow you to spot problems before they become disasters, such as discovering loose belts before they crack or break.
- Keep your tires inflated properly to get better gas mileage. Better gas mileage means you don’t have to fill up the tank as often. Less trips to the pump means more money in your pocket.
- Change your own oil. If you have the time and know how, you’ll be able to save approximately $80 a year that you can use for something else – like paying down your debt.
Not all gas is created equal
Depending on the make and model of your car, you may need to use premium gas to optimize your car’s performance and get the most miles per fill up. However premium gas is not always necessary and the regular may be all your car needs. Check your user’s manual to make sure this doesn’t harm your car.
Consider transportation alternatives
No one likes to go over budget when it comes to transportation expenses. With gas prices reaching an average $3.50 a gallon there are only so many options when it comes to transportation.
- Carpool to work. Driving less saves money on gas, maintenance, and the “wear and tear” on your car. You may even enjoy the conversation on the highway in the morning.
- Ride a bike. No doubt the exercise will be good for you. If you live in a city or close to work biking may be an excellent alternative for your mind, body, and wallet.
- Use public transportation. This not only reduces emissions but will help you save money. A $2.00 bus ticket is much less than the almost $4.00 gallon of gas.
How do you keep the crankies away when it comes to dealing with the costs associated with owning a car?