How Do I Save Money on Car Maintenance?

Car maintenance can sometimes break the bank (and your relationship with your vehicle). To avoid feeling worn down by an improperly-maintained lemon, it’s important to take good care of your ride from the beginning. This week we’re covering some of the most important things you should do to save money on car maintenance down the road. Since a car is an (epic) investment, we definitely want to help you get the most out of yours. Read on to see some of the long-term advice we’ve enjoyed sharing with our customers throughout the years.

Go by the Book

not this book… it’s just an expression.

Check your owner’s manual for ideal fluid levels, oil change timelines, and scheduled maintenance plans for your exact vehicle. Your manual will give you specifics on everything from replacement parts to compatible light bulbs in the event of a dim headlight. Sticking to the manufacturer’s recommendations keeps your warranty valid and your car up to date on repairs.

If you decide to save money and skip a recommended car maintenance trip, know that it’s a gamble. Small things like a dry, cracking fuel line can go unnoticed if you choose to forego your scheduled maintenance. In the long run, it could wind up being a far more costly expense than if you’d stuck to the regular schedule, since skipping regular maintenance may void some warranties. That cracking fuel line could have been replaced at little to no charge if you’d stuck to the recommended schedule, but left alone, it can cause damage that can cost hundreds to repair.

Proper Oil Changes

Warning: do not remove valve cover to change oil.

Getting proper oil changes are essential to the function of your vehicle. When done by a professional, your vehicle’s maintenance records are logged with CARFAX. This looks great to potential buyers down the road. If you choose to save money and perform the changes yourself, make sure to keep clean and detailed records of the services you perform. This will legitimize your vehicle’s value and back up your car maintenance claims.

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If you choose to buy a used car, it’s important to read the owner’s manual to see which type of oil the manufacturer recommends. It’s also important to check with the previous owner about the type of oil they were putting in the vehicle. It’s not advisable to downgrade the oil that’s currently used in the vehicle. So if someone preferred synthetic oil for your previously-loved ride, that’s something you’ll need to commit to for the long haul.

Extended Warranty

This Beetle is most likely not under warranty…

Always consider the pros and cons of purchasing an extended warranty. An extended warranty is an added insurance plan for the material components of your vehicle. It eliminates major repair bills within a reasonable scope. It also guarantees the car for longer than the manufacturer originally intended. Even though it can feel like a considerable amount of money up front, you’re able to break down your car maintenance costs by month. Most banking institutions will include the fees for extended warranties in their financing plans, as well.

Choose the Right Fuel

Save Money on Car Maintenance.
If anything on your car looks like this, call a mechanic.

It’s very important to select the correct octane level for your vehicle’s fuel tank. To determine the correct fuel, you should consult your owner’s manual. Using a grade that’s lower than what the manufacturer recommends can often void your warranty. If your car was modified or upgraded, it’s best to check with the previous owner about the type of fuel they were using. For example, if the previous owner added an aftermarket turbo, you’ll likely need to use a higher octane fuel than the owner’s manual recommends.

Wash and Wax your Car

Save Money on Car Maintenance.
Washing your car in automated machines could damage your paint over time.

Along with caring for your car’s needs under the hood, preserving the exterior of your car is also important. Regular washing of your vehicle helps remove sticky residue and abrasive grime that can deteriorate your paint. Over time, small scratches, dents, and chips can become detrimental to the vehicle’s value. Hand washing saves a considerable amount of money and regularly allows you to get a detailed look at the condition of the exterior. This also allows you to address problem areas before they become costly oversights.

It’s important to wash with an automotive-specific soap in order to protect the paint. Using products like grease-cutting dish soap can actually harm the finish of your vehicle. Remember to wash from the top to the bottom as well, in order to avoid spreading gritty debris up the side of the car. We also recommend periodically waxing in order to keep a protective coating over your paint and finish. Waxing schedules vary from car to car, depending on whichever product suits your needs. It’s best to consult a technician at an auto care shop for specific help with choosing a product.

The Long-Term Solution

Save Money on Car Maintenance.
Sourcing a good car is crucial to saving money on maintenance. Check out our inventory!

The ideal car maintenance prevention plan includes following the steps above, while also starting off on the right foot. This means that it’s important to buy a car that comes with a solid, healthy history. When buying used, it’s extremely important to choose a ride that’s been well maintained. If the past owner was diligent, they’ll have complete records and a clean CARFAX report. In addition to that, the vehicle should be serviced and inspected, and any issues or needs should be honestly revealed. Luckily, TRED helps buyers cover all their bases by compiling detailed vehicle history. They gather CARFAX reports and complete a 150-point inspection (performed by an expert). TRED also offers an awesome trade-in program, as well. Check it out at!


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