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Car Maintenance Cost: How To Cut It

One of the most discussed areas about vehicles is "How To Cut Automobile Maintenance Cost", however most of those discussions center on taking your car in for service, pre vacation checks, pre winter checks and such on a schedule. What most of these discussions miss is the simple point of what the vehicle owner can do everyday to reduce that expense.

Have you ever noticed during your commute times the increasing number of vehicles that are on the sides of the highway or are blocking traffic because they have had a breakdown? Have you noticed when refueling the number of people either hold the pump nozzle or talking on their cell phone?

A better use of this time!

Today most of us barely have time to do what we must and adding anything to our workload is going to create conflict.

Since full service stations have disappeared and we have to pump our own fuel I am suggesting that a better use of this time while you are buying fuel would be to perform that "service station" inspection from many years ago. It doesn't take but a few minutes while the fuel is pumping on automatic to perform after you get in the habit.

Turn on your park lights and simply walk around the vehicle inspecting the lights to see if they all work. If one is out remeber to have your mechanic replace it as it could save you a trip to court.

During this walk around the vehicle look at the tires to see if one is low as compared to the others, pay attention for any liquids dripping from your vehicle (ac condenstation is normal).

A low tire not only damages the tire, but can cost money in lost fuel economy. Plus it could be a serious risk of an accident. If a tire is low check the sticker on your door for the correct air pressure and
inflate it. Many gas stations today have inflation stations for a fee, but for a small investment you could have a portable air pump at home.

Next raise the hood and check the oil level with a clean disposable paper towel or napkin by first removing the stick, cleaning it and reinserting, then remove it and look at the level indicated between the add and full lines. If it is below the add you need oil or get an oil change if it is due (check the window sticker). If it is low but not ready for a change, check the owners manual and add the correct type and viscosity oil, but NEVER overfill.

Next look at the coolant level in the overflow or surge bottle to check the level, if it is low wait until the vehicle has cooled overnite to top it up. It should not be low, but if it is low you should see your mechanic right away because you may have a leak and that could cause major damage.

After you get in this habit have your mechanic explain where the other fluids are and how to check them. Just integrate these extra simple checks into your routine.

If you develop the habit to perform these minor maintenance inspections at every refueling time not only will you get better fuel economy but you will catch problems in your vehicle while they are still small and relatively inexpensive to repair. Not to mention that your vehicle will be better maintained and less prone to a breakdown leaving you stranded on the highway.

Additional money saving notes:

When the fuel nozzle shuts off automatically, you can use it to round the price a few cent to an even number if you like but do not just keep squeezing the fuel in as this can damage emissions components on your vehicle.

The tire inflation pressures listed on the door jam sticker from the manufacturer are intended to give the vehicle a better ride, sometimes you can inflate the tires just a few (about 3) psi more without hurting the ride or the tires and get a little better fuel mileage. Never exceed the maximum pressure indicated on the side of the tire.

If your vehicle was built to operate on 87 octane fuel, do not spend the extra money for mid grade or premium fuels. Additionally these higher quality and priced fuels do tend to carbon the engine more and require cleaning.

Purchase a high quality fuel from an oil company and not from an oil products marketer, this way you get the full additive package and do not need to add any fuel system cleaners or conditioners.

Cut your cost on oil changes by switching to full synthetic oil that can go longer between changes. For the expense of 2 synthetic changes it would require 3 to 4 regular oil changes to equal that service mileage plus the synthetic can give you better fuel economy and engine protection.

Updated Information:

Every motorist should own an obd2 scan tool and use it at least once per month to check the running performance of their vehicle. It doesn't take very long and the results of every test can be saved and compared for component degradation. This component degradation translates into lost performaqnce and reduced miles per gallon. This is something that could easily be done after you have finished washing the car one week.

We have been concerned with the current 10% and future percentages of alcohol that is required in today's fuel by the EPA. What is concerning us is the harm caused by this alcohol as it is very corrosive. Could it be harming the engine itself? Thus we started testing additives available at the local parts stores to see if any differences could be observed externally.

I am happy to announce that our testing yielded some great results, but even more so in the increased performance area. Of all the additives tested, only Lucas's Top Engine Oil showed any positive results. When used in the correct mixture, the engine operated more smoothly, started easier and accelerated better. We are now suggesting everyone start adding this to your fuel to overcome the harm caused by the EPA mandated alcohol.

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