5 Ways to Avoid the Costs of Car Maintenance

Monica Ricci
March 1, 2013



I drive a 1996 Acura 2.5 TL (that’s 17 years old, but who’s counting?). She may not have the supermodel good looks of her youth, but she’s long ago been paid for and she still runs like a champ thanks to regular maintenance and the best team of mechanics in the world.

As anyone who has ever owned a car can attest, automobile repairs and maintenance can put quite a dent in your wallet. However, there are ways you can help maintain your car that don’t require professional skills and can help you avoid the costs of car maintenance  saving you a bunch of cash over the long term. For the bigger issues with my car, I let my team at my local car repair shop, Poston Motors, work their magic, but here are the things I do myself (or have done in the past) to keep my car in good running order.

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1. Change the air filter. My Acura is fuel-injected so it doesn’t have a carburetor, but my previous cars (a Nissan and a Volkswagen) did, and I never let anyone change out the air filter. It’s literally a 30-second job that costs just a few dollars for the part.

2. Top off fluids. Brake fluid, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid and windshield are easily accessible in most cars and it’s simple to top them off. That being said, they should also be drained and changed periodically. If you’re the kind of person with the time and inclination to do it yourself, I applaud you! That’s big extra savings for your wallet! But I am happy to leave the drain and change to Matt and the guys and I’m more than happy to pay for it.

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3. Replace bulbs. Screws fall out all the time and bulbs go out now and then too. The world is an imperfect place. Driving around with a burned out headlamp or taillight is a good way to get a traffic ticket, so don’t put off replacing them. You could have your mechanic do it, of course, but why? Over the years, I’ve replaced headlamps, tail lights and marker lights on both my Acura and previous cars, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m paying anywhere from $8 to $28 for a light bulb, I don’t want to pay another fee to have it installed.

4. Install wiper blades. Again, this is something you can absolutely wait to have your mechanic do when you get an oil change or a tune up but why pay them to do it when it’s so easy to do yourself? Just be sure to get the right size blade for your car and you can have them swapped out before you even leave the auto parts store.

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5. Maintain your battery. Your car battery will last longer and start stronger if you periodically clear the terminals of corrosion using a wire brush and a rag. And because car batteries only last so long, yours will eventually go to the big scrap heap in the sky. When it does, save money by swapping it out yourself.

Cars are wonderful machines that will give you years of service when properly maintained. To save money on yours, do the maintenance tasks you can and let the pros handle the rest of them.

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