How would you like to be a step ahead of the majority of vehicle owners insofar as your repair costs are concerned?
It’s surprisingly simple to do, yet so few people do it:
Read your owners manual.
Specifically, read the section that discussed your vehicles recommended maintenance schedule. It usually looks like a chart, and it should tell you exactly what kinds of service your vehicle is likely to need after however many miles have been driven.
Remember however, the maintenance schedule chart was put together by the company that designed and manufactured your vehicle. When you hear the phrase “scheduled maintenance,” this is the guideline that people are talking about. Most owner’s manuals have two tables – “normal” and “severe” schedules. Very few drivers fall into the “normal” driving conditions.
If you’d like to keep your repair costs down, maintenance is key. Let’s take a look at seven more expert tips along these lines:
#1 – Understand the Difference Between Maintenance and Repairs
Maintenance is part of owning a vehicle. It must be done. Repairs will also be necessary during the lifetime of the vehicle, but will be necessary significantly less frequently when the vehicle is regularly maintained. Oil changes, tire rotations, transmission services, or replacing brake pads are considered maintenance, not repairs. However, paying close attention to these needs of the vehicle will prevent repairs from becoming necessary for far longer than if they’re neglected.
#2 – Check Your Air Filter
Let’s start with a simple one. Even though it should be part of a standard inspection during most oil changes, it’s still a smart move to check your air filter regularly. Over time, it gets clogged with debris. This can lead to problems that may require repairs, but the most immediate benefit is that a clean air filter will improve your gas mileage. And who doesn’t want to save money on gas?
#3 – Know When Your Brake Pads Need to be Replaced
When something was going wrong with an older car, the driver would usually know about it pretty quickly. These days, cars are designed to give an incredibly smooth ride, and in-cab noise reduction technology has become pretty great. Combine that with listening to the radio and a lot of the clunks and pings that would alert drivers in the past go completely unnoticed.
If you’re hearing a scraping sound when you hit the brakes, it’s time to change the brake pads. Most vehicles come equipped with a wear indicator right on the brake pad. It looks like a little tab—the closer it is to the rotor, the further worn down the pads are.
#4 – Learn Your Fluids
Having a solid understanding of the fluids your vehicle needs will cut down on future repairs, and in most cases you can check them yourself rather than relying on a technician. Learn how to check your oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and antifreeze levels. If you’re a particularly busy person, make a note on your calendar to check your fluids every few weeks.
#5 – Understand Your Dash Lights
Another great reason to read your owner’s manual: in it, you’ll find a detailed description of all possible dash lights that can illuminate. Understanding what each one means and what kind of action you should take as a result of it is a great way to prevent major repairs before they’re necessary. Many modern cars come equipped with sensors that can tell you many things from when you need an oil change to when you need to have your tire pressure checked.
#6 – Consider Purchasing a Roadside Service Account (or BG Services offers it for FREE – learn more).
Roadside service accounts are generally very affordable and offer drivers benefits like tows within a certain number of miles, gas in the event that they run out, and so on. These kinds of services are beneficial if problems do unexpectedly arise. A tow service can prevent you from having to “limp” to a service station, potentially causing more damage in the process. If you are using BG Products and Maintenance services, you can get roadside assistance for free.
#7 – Make an Effort to Meet a Great Mechanic
Not all auto technicians are made the same. Ask around, read reviews, and make your own judgments whenever your car needs servicing. A skilled, honest mechanic is an asset that any car owner would be delighted to have—and they’re not quite as uncommon as you might have been lead to believe. If you can help it, don’t just go to the most conveniently located auto shop—go to the best.
Maintenance is almost always going to be cheaper than repairs. Following your vehicles maintenance schedule will save you money, hands down.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had your vehicle serviced, you might be experiencing that “driver’s sixth sense” feeling that something will go wrong soon. Here’s what to do: schedule a checkup as soon as you can, review your owner’s manual, and talk to your auto service professional. (We promise it’s not as lame as it sounds.)