How to save money with car maintenance
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Many of us go through lean times financially, times when it’s easy to put off spending on matters we see as a low priority.
But be careful about applying any false economy to car maintenance. That notice from your mechanic reminding you to bring your car in for a check-up should never be dismissed lightly.
Think what it would mean to your finances if you were to neglect a maintenance issue which puts your vehicle off the road. Far worse, of course, is the scenario in which somebody gets hurt because of such an issue.
True, it’s not only ordinary citizens who are guilty of ignoring necessary short term expenditure to avoid long-term-pain — companies and even governments do the same thing.
But for ordinary folk the results can be far more damaging, sometimes direly so, if something breaks or goes wrong with one’s sole means of transport.
For example, if your vehicle is due for a cam belt replacement or brake pads need replacing, these items are a must. You just have to try to budget for them; it’s the true price of car ownership.
So what separates matters which can be deferred from those which cannot be? The answer for most of us — like so many other issues in life — rests more with, “who we know” than “what we know”.
A trusted mechanic will understand your needs, take some care, advise fairly and, before commencing repair work, ring back to clarify anything ambiguous. If you have somebody like that, think twice about dropping them in favour of some operator who does everything half price.
Top 5 maintenance tips
- Engines don't like over-heating and hot days and long drives mean the cooling system will be worked hard. They operate under extreme pressure and often if one hose blows others may soon require replacement too.
- Is the cam belt due to be replaced? Cam belts have a limited life and must be replaced to avoid potentially catastrophic engine damage. Never risk leaving this work undone if it's due. OK
- Brakes will work harder on a long trip - particularly if the vehicle is towing. Brake fluid needs to be periodically replaced as moisture contamination can corrode the system’s internal components. A warrant is a visual and mechanical inspection; you may be asked to check or replace the brakes if they look low.
- Tyres (including the spare) must be checked. New Zealand frequently has wet summers and the last thing you need is a tyre unable to dissipate water because the tread is too worn. Make sure the equipment to change the spare is there and adequate for the job. Some wheel braces cannot loosen wheel nuts which have been over-tightened.
- Genuine oils and filters are of good quality and great to use on your prized late model vehicle but, if your vehicle is a bit older, aftermarket parts may be a good alternative and will help reduce maintenance costs as the vehicle ages.