10 Car Maintenance Tips to Help You Save Money

When buying a car, most people think only about the cost of acquisition. However, there are many other expenses involved in vehicle ownership. In particular, you have to factor in regular maintenance in your budget.

Keep in mind that no matter how tough your car seems to be, it’s still a machine that needs regular servicing for optimum performance. Fortunately, you can apply for cash loans if ever there’s an emergency or if you need extra cash to cover some of the costs. That said, if you don’t work on proper car maintenance, it won’t be long before you’re drowning in all sorts of repairs, parts replacements, and labor bills.

If you want your car to look good and drive smoothly for years without spending too much, here are some money-saving car maintenance tips to keep in mind:

Read the Owner’s Manual

There’s probably no one more familiar with your car than the manufacturer. After all, they’re the ones who built it, from the first screw to the last coat of paint. As such, a crucial part of your car’s maintenance is to read the owner’s manual. This booklet has everything you need to know about how to take care of your car based on the manufacturer’s recommendations

Some of the most important sections of the owner’s manual that you should definitely keep in mind include:

  • Troubleshooting tips
  • Recommended tire pressure
  • Switches and controls for different car functions
  • What each warning light on the dashboard means
  • Warranty coverage

By knowing such details, you can immediately tell if there’s something you need to do so that your car can achieve maximum efficiency.

Keep the owner’s manual in the glove compartment of your car so that it’s easy to find and you can always refer to it when you need to.

Know What the Warning Lights Mean and Pay Attention to Them

As mentioned in the previous section, your car’s owner’s manual has a list of all the warning lights you can find on the dashboard and what these lights mean. These are your car’s way to tell you that something’s wrong, so make sure to learn them by heart. This way, you’ll know what to do whenever a symbol lights up. 

In general, the lights that you should pay attention to are the red and orange/yellow ones. The former means something urgent, while the latter means something important but doesn’t necessitate immediate action. Do note that a warning light will activate even for simple issues such as a loose gas cap. That said, this doesn’t mean that every problem is so easily solved. Make it a habit to check things whenever any light comes on the dash to save yourself from potentially worse problems later on.

P.S. There are also blue/green/white lights on your dashboard. These are informational lights, letting you know that an action has been performed (e.g., the fog lights have been turned on).

Check Your Tires, Including the Spare

If your car’s tires are underinflated, they will wear down more quickly; you’ll also get fewer kilometers per liter. Meanwhile, if your car’s tires are overinflated, they’ll be more prone to damage and could burst more quickly when you hit sharp debris or drive over potholes. Either way, you’ll be racking up higher and higher maintenance costs if your car’s tires don’t have the right amount of pressure in them.

The recommended psi of your car’s tires is indicated in at least two places: the owner’s manual and a sticker or label on the inside of the driver’s door. If you can, memorize the number; if not, just know where to find it so you can keep your car’s tires properly inflated at all times.

It’s also important to check the spare tire’s pressure. This way, it’s always ready for use in case you run into tire troubles while on the road. If your spare tire is flat, you might have to pay for a towing service. This can easily cost thousands of pesos, even for short distances.

Rotate the Tires

Another tire maintenance tip that will save you a lot of money is to rotate them every 5,000 to 8,000 kilometers. Doing this will make the tires last longer and also wear down more evenly. 

These two factors are important because it’s inadvisable to replace just one or two tires at a time. Instead, it’s recommended that you replace them all at once. If your tires are in good shape for longer and are more or less in the same condition, you can replace them at the same schedule and save thousands!

Clean the Battery Regularly

One of the more expensive parts of car maintenance is getting a new battery. Depending on the brand you choose, a good quality battery can cost around Php 4,000 or more. Fortunately, you can make your car’s battery last longer by keeping the terminals clean and free from corrosion. 

Of course, you won’t know whether your car’s battery terminals are corroded if you don’t inspect them regularly. Do this about two to three times a year; if you see a bluish or white powdery substance on the terminals, that’s corrosion. You can clean it up by disconnecting the cables, pouring some cleaning solution on them, and scrubbing the corrosion off using a wire brush. Give the terminals a good rinse then make sure they’re completely dry before reattaching the cables.

Replace Spark Plugs 

A car’s spark plugs may be among its smallest components, but they’re some of the most important. After all, you can’t drive your car if there’s no spark—literally. The air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber needs a spark from the spark plugs so it can ignite and power up the engine. If your spark plugs aren’t in good condition, your car’s engine will experience frequent misfires. This situation can result in poor fuel economy and engine damage, both of which can be costly.

To keep the engine running smoothly, make sure to replace the spark plugs about every 48,000 to 50,000 kilometers. If your budget can accommodate it, buy iridium or platinum spark plugs. These are more expensive but last much longer and offer better performance.

Always Check the Fluid Levels

Your car needs different types of fluids to function properly. These fluids include the engine oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure that these are all topped up before you drive anywhere to reduce the chances of overheating, poor performance, and other issues.

Again, your car’s owner’s manual will contain information regarding the correct level of these fluids. There are also some tools, like a dipstick, that come with your car that can help you measure the amount of fluids in each tank. Most car fluid reservoirs also have markings that you can use as a guide when filling them up.

Fill Up With Regular Fuel

The term “high-octane fuel” sounds really impressive on paper but it’s highly likely that your car doesn’t need it. Unless your car has a turbocharger or a high compression ratio and unless the manufacturer expressly recommends it (check the manual!), your car will be perfectly fine with low-octane gas. Your car won’t suddenly become as powerful as a sports car with high-octane gas in the tank, so save your money and go for regular fuel.

Replace the Windshield Wiper Blades

Ideally, you should replace your car’s windshield wipers every year or as soon as you notice the following symptoms:

  • squeaking or scraping sounds while the wipers are cleaning the windshield
  • the wiper arms are vibrating
  • there are leftover streaks on the windshield after using the wipers
  • the wiper “skips” a section of the windshield

With bad wiper blades, your windshield can get scratched or otherwise damaged. Remember: getting a new set of wiper blades is so much cheaper than getting a new windshield.

Clean Your Vehicle

Last but not least, one of the simplest yet most effective car maintenance procedures is to keep it clean. A clean car not only looks good, but also retains its resale value. It’s also less prone to rust and other forms of exterior damage that might affect the appearance, performance, and value of your car.

To keep your car clean, give it a good wash every two weeks or so to keep dirt, mud, and grime from sticking to the paint. It’s also advisable to have your car waxed about every two months to protect the paint from acid rain, bird droppings, and other substances that might corrode it.

For the inside, make sure to regularly vacuum the seats and flooring to get rid of debris like sand and small stones. You should also take out the floor mat to wash it from time to time, but especially when it has recently rained or when something spilled on it.

It’s also best to not keep a lot of cargo in your car. That’s because the heavier your car is, the more power it needs to move. Thus, if you want to save on gas, try to lighten your car’s load as much as possible. If you can, don’t add too many accessories. The only thing that should be permanently inside your car is your emergency tool kit.

You’ve invested quite a lot of money in your car, so it’s a logical next step to protect it. Follow these tips to keep your vehicle in good shape without breaking the bank, for a safe and enjoyable driving experience for years to come.