Five ways to spend less on your car

Whether it’s fuel costs or forking out to have it repaired, your car can cost a small fortune. Discover five simple money-saving tips to ease the motoring squeeze.

Routine maintenance
Ensuring you know (and enforce) your car’s maintenance schedule can dramatically reduce your number of unnecessary repairs. It’s like going to the dentist – if you have your teeth checked frequently then any minor issues get nipped in the bud. In the long run it’s much cheaper than discovering you need an entirely preventable root canal. All cars are different, so find out what your car’s ideal maintenance schedule is and make sure you stick to it.

Find a good mechanic
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to find a good, reliable and trustworthy mechanic before anything major goes wrong. A bad mechanic could compound the problem and an untrustworthy one may charge you through the nose for a simple check-up. If you know someone who takes good care of their cars (especially someone who’s a bit of a fanatic), ask them for a recommendation – they’re likely to have already sussed out the best value garage in town.

Check your fluids
Some of you may find the inner workings of your car a little daunting. Most of the time you can leave routine checks to the experts, but when it comes to your fluids it pays to know when the levels are low. Ask a friend to show you what to look for, or talk to your mechanic about giving you a quick lesson next time you take your car in for a service. The main fluids you should be able to check are:

  • Engine oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid

If you know when the levels are low you can avert a number of major disasters, such as your engine overheating or your brakes failing.

Inflate your tyres
Over-inflated tyres can cause your braking distance to increase and under-inflated tyres can cause a blowout. Neither one is necessary. Most cars will have the optimal inflation levels written near where the driver’s door latches on the frame of the door. You can also find this information online – every car is different. Pumping up your tyres is free, too – you can use the air machine at any petrol station. Just use the + and – buttons to choose your PSI (the amount of pressure in your tyres), unscrew the little cap over the valve on your tyre (be sure to keep it safe – they’re easy to lose and do need to be replaced to stop grit getting into the valve), clip the end of the air hose over the valve and wait for the machine to beep.

Balance your tyres
Did you know that improperly balanced tyres not only wear out your tyres faster, they can also wear out your shock absorbers and damage your suspension? If you haven’t had your tyres balanced and aligned recently, it might be time to head for a tyre shop.

Do you have any other money-saving tips for cars? Share your expertise in the comments below.