Money Saving Car Maintenance Tips

by on June 18th, 2011
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How long do struts last? How do you know when your axle shaft is bad? And how much should the replacement of a ________ (think any automotive part) cost? These are a sample of some of the questions that those working in the auto repair field get asked all the time.

It isn’t any different than picking the brain of a physical therapist or a physician about a bad knee or tennis elbow, the difference is that heath care professionals are held in much higher regard than they should be. Regardless of whether it’s the body or a sedan, people are always looking for advice about how to make sure they are making the right decisions and not wasting money.

A major part of my expertise lies in the non-technical elements vehicle upkeep. So you won’t be getting tips on the secret tricks that cut down the replacement time for a heater core on a 2008 Chevy Malibu, but you won’t be skinning your knuckles or have to degrease your shirt either. And you may still save money in the process.

So here are five tips that over time will save you money and aggravation.

Don’t Diagnose - This is all about knowing your role in the auto repair setting. You are the customer. It is your responsibility to communicate what you know about the symptoms that you are experiencing and stop there. It’s OK to consult with knowledgeable people whose automotive opinion you trust, but you should file that information away and judge the repair shop’s final diagnosis with an informed perspective. Remember that as soon as you suggest a possible cause of your problem you accept some ownership of the repair. Instead, make sure that the repair facility is 100 percent responsible for the planned fix.

Keep Good Records - You need to know what has been done to your car, including when maintenance was performed and by whom. Make a list of which replaced parts carry warranties and how long they last. If you have your vehicle at garage “B” and they diagnose a bad starter, it may be better to pay its charge for checking it out and have it towed to garage “A” where you had the starter replaced 18 months ago and still have 12 months remaining on the warranty. If you have to change technicians it is important to know exactly what preventative services have been done so that your new repair facility doesn’t duplicate maintenance.

Read Your Owner’s Manual - Maturing mushrooms probably experience more daylight than a vehicle’s owner’s manual. However, the books really are required reading. Some of the things you must know are: the location of the spare, jack, and any key to unlock the wheels; how the oil life system (if provided) works; what your vehicle’s warning lights mean. It is a convenient place to find essential information like what kind of oil is recommended for your engine and how much air pressure your tires take. Take special note of the service intervals recommended for different maintenance procedures.

Take Charge of Your Car’s Care - Once you have read the manual, implement the plan called for in the service schedule. Identify whether your vehicle is being operated in a severe or normal environment and then follow the recommended service plan. Don’t be lured into service menus offered by dealers or independent garages, instead consult your manual and compose a list of what the manufacturer says needs to be done at your current odometer reading. Remember the ultimate goal is conform to your car maker’s warranty requirements by performing the appropriate maintenance. By dictating to the service facility what you have determined has to be done you can avoid the upsell that is common to most service facilities.

Prepare for the Auto Repair Visit - Prior to dropping your car off for repairs or maintenance think about what you want to be accomplished. Be sure to be precise about how much cost of repairs you are authorizing the shop to do without contacting you. Avoid using non-specific expressions like “Call me if it gets expensive.” Anticipate the best way to contact you during your work day and provide that information to the repair facility.

Source: Personal Experience

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