Cars can be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they get you from point A to point B, accomplish essential errands, and a lot of them look pretty fancy when going down the highway. On the other hand, they are machines, and like all mechanical devices, they will break down, and when they do, they can cost an arm and a leg to repair.
We all dread when our car needs maintenance due to the price, time, and inconvenience involved, but the good news is that not every repair requires an expensive mechanic. There are several smaller tasks that you can do on your own to save money from the comfort of your driveway. The trick is to know your limits. Let’s discuss what to consider the next time you want to save a few bucks on car repairs.
Maintenance Best Left To The Professionals
Before we discuss several maintenance tasks that you can do on your own, it is important to understand that some fixes are just better left to the professionals. While the internet is full of helpful tutorials and videos that teach you how to do just about everything, for more complex tasks, you will also need a fair share of mechanical expertise. For example, if your engine fails or you need a new transmission, it is best to visit a mechanic. These systems involve countless complex mechanisms, and if these components are damaged, they could negatively affect other parts of your car.
Really, anything associated with your engine should be left to the professionals. Even a task that may seem simple, like changing a timing belt, can go very wrong if you don’t know what you are looking at. It may look like you only need to stretch a belt around a pulley system, but to do so, you will need to take apart half of the engine. You never know what you could damage during the process without even realizing it.
You also need to consider the costs associated with completing complex car maintenance tasks on your own. To repair transmissions, suspension issues, and other big-time projects, you need several basic tools that can be costly to obtain. A good socket set can cost you upwards of $100, an impact wrench for removing those tough bolts can put you back $200 – $300, and all of this doesn’t even include the cost of replacing the parts themselves. The cost of transmission alone can start out at $800 for a used model. With a mechanic, you could end up paying a bit less, especially if they have a deal going on. Plus, you will get replacement parts that you can trust and a potential warranty to go along with them.
What You Can Do On Your Own
With all of that said, you do not need to bring your car to a mechanic for every issue you face. At a minimum, you can perform most preventive maintenance procedures at home, which will help to avoid higher costs down the road. For instance, if you want your car and engine to last, you need to maintain the oil and complementary components. By reading articles online or watching video tutorials, you can do easier tasks, like replenish your oil and change your air filter at home with materials found at any local auto retailer.
While there are many resources on the internet that can guide you along the way, you want to make sure that you are always following the best advice. If you are looking at how to change the oil or replace the headlights, search online for your specific vehicle type. So, you can Google “change headlights on Kia Spectra.” With any luck, you will find your way to the dealer website for the most accurate information. Also, take advantage of the owner’s manual in your glove box and review the information before beginning the process.
There are many other maintenance tasks that you can complete using online tutorials. Changing a tire is relatively easy because all cars come with the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench necessary to complete the project. By using the instructional materials offered by the dealer, you can also fix old windshield wipers, clean your battery, and replace other essential fluids, including windshield wiper fluid and engine coolant.
Tips For Saving Money
The bottom line is that the better you treat and maintain your car, the less likely you are to require expensive repairs, at least for the first hundred thousand miles. Treat your car like a finely-tuned machine, and it will thank you by staying dependable and efficient for years to come. For example, when you change your oil, instead of getting the bargain mixture, go for premium oil. It will cost a bit more but it also contains the elements that help your engine run smoother and for longer.
Every time you go to the gas station, think of it as a mini-pitstop for your car. Before or after you add the gas, take the time to check your tire pressure and fill them if necessary to the PSI listed on the wheel. If you are trying to save money, then you can cut down on your gas mileage and fill-up frequency by maintaining the posted speed limit, turning your car off when not in use, and avoiding stop-and-go driving.
When it comes to the larger car repairs, use the resources at your disposal to try and cut down on the cost or make the price more manageable. If you paid for an extended car warranty, then take advantage and bring your car to the dealer. Some mechanics may also offer financing options for more expensive repairs, so you can pay back the bill over time. Don’t be afraid to ask about these opportunities, as they can save a bundle.
Car repairs can be expensive. There is no doubt about it. But by taking the time to research and understand when a professional is necessary, you will end up saving money in the long run.