Owning a car can be expensive. Besides the fact that it can easily be your second largest investment, operating and maintaining one can also be a huge drain on your budget. Based on the results of a study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in 2015, the average car maintenance cost can easily amount to about $8,700 a year. No wonder the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks it as the second largest expense in the average American household.
So, is there anything you can do about it? Thankfully, there are a number of ways by which you can keep your car maintenance costs down and save thousands of dollars over the life of your car. Here are some strategies that can help you accomplish your goal.
Read the manual. This simple strategy can help you avoid being charged for any unnecessary service when you take your car in for maintenance. Keep in mind that most dealerships will recommend additional service even if your car does not need them at the moment just to improve their profits.
Avoid aggressive driving. You can save anywhere between 13 cents and 89 cents per gallon or up to $477 per year by driving sensibly so avoid speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking at all cost. You can also save an additional $198 per year if you drive between 50 and 60 mph on the freeway. In addition, you can extend the life of your brakes when you avoid slamming on the pedal. This allows you to save anywhere between $600 and $1,000 over the life of your car.
Shop around. Whether you’re looking for the lowest gas price or new auto insurance, it pays to shop around for the best deal in town so use a highly rated app to find what you’re looking for. Apps such as Gas Buddy, Gas Guru and Fuel Finder can help you find the cheapest fuel prices nearby while apps such as Go, iCompare and Car Insurance Discounts can help you compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies.
Be a DIYer. Handle simple car maintenance jobs such as replacing your wiper blades, lights and fuses, and learn to rotate your tires by yourself. This can help you save more than $200 a year.
Store your car properly. Take good care of your car, especially when you are leaving it unused for weeks or months. Parking it in a garage and forgetting all about it will increase the probability that you’ll end up paying for expensive repairs in the future. Don’t let this happen to you. Do the necessary prep work when storing your car for prolonged periods of time.
Wash your vehicle and make sure there are no food scraps left inside, remove the battery and spark plugs, change the oil and filters, and fill the tank with quality fuel. For best results, park your car in a dry and well-ventilated garage, and use a high quality semi custom car cover to protect its delicate finish. Avoid using tarp or plastic covers since these materials can easily ruin your paintwork.