Everyone knows how quickly car expenses can add up. In fact, buying a car is one of the largest purchases most consumers will make in their lifetimes. And as families grow, more cars are needed in a household, whether it’s for more room for young ones or for your newly licensed teen driver (gulp).
More cars means more wear and tear, more opportunities for damages, and more maintenance to repair and avoid it all. While we definitely recommend finding an insurance company that gives you a discount for being a multi-car household, there are dozens of ways you can save money on maintenance and fuel efficiency alone.
How to save money on car maintenance
Cars can be expensive to upkeep, but a necessity for most of us to get through our day. Whether you have an older car or one that’s brand new, there are certain things you can keep an eye on to maintain your car’s condition and save you a few bucks along the way.
Each car’s make and model can vary when it comes to the type of maintenance and care that it may need to keep it running and out of the repair shop. Before doing anything to your car, it’s important to reference your owner’s manual when considering the type of maintenance or work it may need. But let’s review some common maintenance tips that are useful no matter what car you have:
Refilling and changing your car’s oil is one of the most important car maintenance tasks to stay on top of. If your car’s oil isn’t regularly refreshed or refilled, it can lead to major engine issues or even total engine failure. Thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest kinds of maintenance—just a few minutes can help you avoid thousands of dollars in costly repairs.
There are two main types of car oil: regular and synthetic. It’s important that you know what oil your car takes to properly care for it. Each car is different when it comes to knowing exactly when to change the oil, but the average for conventional oil is around 7,500-10,000 miles. If your car carries synthetic or a blend of synthetic oil, you’re in luck! Those types of cars can last up to 15,000 miles between oil changes. While it’s always smart to get your oil change within the recommended window, changing your engine oil overly frequently is usually just a waste of your time and money. Just keep an eye on your odometer and you’ll be fine!
Your tires are the only part of your car that touch the road, so it’s really important they stay healthy. Make sure your tires are always inflated to the recommended PSI for your car’s proportions and weight. This helps with wear and tear on the tires and even helps with getting the best gas mileage for your car. Your owner’s manual will have the recommended PSI for your tires, and some cars even have it listed within the driver’s side door.
Tire rotations are equally important in protecting the lifespan of your tires. On average, tires should be rotated every 6 months, but a lot of that depends on how frequently you drive your vehicle. The upkeep of rotated tires has many benefits, like keeping your car functioning properly when coming to sudden stops or halts, getting better gas mileage, and preserving the durability of your tires for longer. Anytime your car is in a repair shop, make sure to ask your mechanic to give your car’s tires a quick look-over to make sure they’re in good shape.
Your owner’s manual can tell you more about how often to change transmission fluid for your car. Automatic cars vary from every 60,000-100,000 miles and manual cars vary from 30,000-60,000 miles. Transmission fluid needs to be changed to keep your transmission lubricated and running properly. By sticking to a mileage schedule, you can lengthen your transmission’s life and prevent you from paying hefty mechanical bills in the future.
Air filters catch debris from the air that enters through the engine, so it’s important to change your air filter periodically. If a filter gets clogged, a variety of things can happen: lack of power during acceleration, higher RPMs when accelerating, fuel economy can be affected, and in some cases, the dreaded ‘Check Engine’ light may come on.
Thankfully, the average air filter only needs to be changed every 15,000 to 30,000 miles and can be done affordably at most car shops. Be sure to double-check your owner’s manual to see what is recommended for your car type.
Save on fuel costs
Regardless of how efficient your car’s gas mileage is, it’s still a large chunk of change you’re having to pay periodically. Thankfully, there are a few things you can try to help keep those gas prices low. Gas apps such as Gas Guru, Gas Buddy, and Waze have become convenient ways to tackle efficiency in driving by providing anything from gas rewards to showing the cheapest gas stations on your route.
Another option is to join a rewards program. Some drivers like to go the credit card route since many of today’s credit cards offer cash back rewards on purchases like filling up your tank. Some gas stations offer lower prices if you join their “fuel club” and certain grocery store chains offer lower gas prices through a gas point reward system when being a loyal shopper.
Keeping up with a healthy car maintenance routine will hopefully help you save money in the long run and keep your car happily running (and out of the shop). And when you’re budgeting what you can spend each month on your cars, don’t forget that there are insurance companies like Elephant that can give you a considerable discount on your Multi-Car policy, so shop around and get a quote with us today.