Keeping Your Vehicle Healthy

We’ve all been driving down the highway at some point and heard a strange new noise coming from our vehicle. This knock, rattle, squeak, or grinding comes out of nowhere and brings on a feeling of despair in the driver. Most of the time we are able to get home or drive straight to an auto repair center. If not, pulling over to the side of the road and calling for a tow truck may be the only option.  The roughly $100 it costs for a tow is the first cost a driver encounters.  This normally pales in comparison to the actual repair costs.  Basic vehicle maintenance can greatly reduce these costs.

An oil change is probably the most essential service to perform. The rule of thumb has always been to get an oil change every 3 months or 3000 miles. With the use of synthetic and semi-synthetic oils, this timeframe can easily be doubled and safely stretched to 5000 or 6000 miles.  Coupons for oil changes are included in mailers all the time, often for around $20. Tire rotation and balancing should also be performed yearly based on normal mileage of 12,000 miles per year.  Most repair centers will offer a complimentary balance check and tire rotation with the oil change. Either way, a balance will cost between $50 and $80 based on the retailer. Changing the air filter is also a yearly task.  This is normally something a car owner can do themselves. A new filter will usually cost between 10 and 20 dollars.

By summing the numbers above, yearly maintenance (barring any other issues) will cost a driver around $150. Car owners should budget for these costs just as they pay for fuel and auto insurance. A savvy driver can look at these costs and actually find savings.  By keeping the oil changed regularly, tires balanced and properly inflated, and air filter clean, a driver can notice fuel mileage improvements of 1-3 miles per gallon.  This is like receiving a free gallon or two per fill-up. Saving five dollars per fill-up can save a driver around $250 a year, more than paying for the basic maintenance.

Changing spark plugs, timing belt and fluids are types of maintenance that should be kept when necessary.  This could be anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 miles depending on what your auto care professional suggests.  Normally they will give the vehicle a basic inspection during an oil change, but having a thorough inspection every year or two is an added safety measure.

Many of these basic maintenance procedures can be performed by a car owner. Nonetheless, there will be occasions where taking a vehicle to a repair shop is necessary. Choosing a place for auto repair in California can be tricky because of the number of options.  Ask friends, family, or co-workers for references.  They may be able to save you time and money by finding a reputable shop quickly.

Performing basic maintenance saves time and money when it comes to vehicle costs. Improving fuel mileage and the life of your vehicle are the benefits. Sticking to a maintenance schedule can help to avoid major repair costs in the future.

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