After purchasing a car, there is an important cost to be aware of, which is car maintenance. When people think about buying a car, beyond putting gas in it, they often forget to consider the cost of maintaining the car. Just like a human body, cars require fuel and liquids to keep them running, and sometimes things have to be replaced when they are worn out. Here are some of the costs of maintaining your car:
Gas is something we all know we have to provide for our vehicle, and we also know the cost of not putting gas in the car-we end up on the side of the road, waiting for someone to pick us up to take us to a gas station (or to a Walmart or Auto Zone for a gas can and then a gas station). However, did you know that there is a cost involved in putting the wrong kind of gas in your car? Believe it or not, car engines have preferences about the grade of gasoline you put in them. Some engines prefer the lower grade unleaded gas (87), while others prefer higher grades. It is a valuable 5 minutes of your time to look through the car’s manual (or google) what kind of gas your car prefers. The right grade of gas in your car can result in less frequent trips to the gas station. And, if you put the wrong grade or type of gas in your car, it can lead to expensive engine problems down the road.
Changing the oil is the most common, yet often overlooked car maintenance chore. The rule has traditionally been that you should change your oil every 3 months or every 5,000 miles driven. With the new synthetic oils on the market, it is possible to stretch out the miles driven between oil changes. When you get your oil changed, talk with your mechanic about whether synthetic oils are better for your car, what the cost difference is, and how often you need to change your oil. By the way, changing oil does not only involve draining oil out and replacing it with new oil, it also requires changing the oil filter. Oil changes in 2022 are running anywhere from $50 to $100 an oil change, so it is worth it to ask the car dealership where you purchase your car if they have any car maintenance deals that they will provide with the purchase of your car. At The CARes Project, we have arrangements with the car dealerships we work with to offer free car maintenance packages, which are basically free oil changes for at least 2 years or the life of the car loan. If you have not been getting your car in for oil changes, make your appointment today!
After gas and oil, the next maintenance expense is tires, which need to be changed periodically. Like gas and oil, tires are not all the same. Some are made to go longer distances (by 10s of thousands of miles) than other tires. Some cars require fatter, taller tires than other cars. Your car manual will tell you what the optimum tire is for your car, and the outside of your tires will have that number (which will look something like this: P215/65 R15 ) on them also. The penny test is an easy way to determine when you need to replace your tires, due to worn tread. Take a penny and turn it so Lincoln’s head is upside down and facing you. Insert the penny in the tread, and if you see all of Lincoln’s head, it is time for new tires.
Potentially one of the least expensive maintenance costs, but the most overlooked are the windshield wipers. You will know when it is time to change your wipers– strips of the windshield will not be wiped when you turn them on– and it seems to always be the section that is right at eye level. Not replacing windshield wipers can lead to very expensive costs– such as having car wrecks at night due to poor visibility. Having your wipers replaced is also really easy– if you purchase blades at a car parts store like O Reily’s or Auto Zone, or Advance Auto, you can ask the customer service person to replace the blades for you, and they walk out to your car with you and trade them out for you.
5: OTHER MAINTENANCE
Other maintenance costs that you will most likely have to address over time are the various parts and fluids that keep your car moving.
· Headlights, tail lights, interior lights, and brake lights will all go out eventually, just like light bulbs in your home.
· Brake pads wear down over time, and like tires, can be replaced with differing quality brakes, some of which claim to never need to be replaced.
· Car batteries should be checked by a mechanic regularly to make sure the fluid in them is topped off, but they too will need to be replaced after a few years.
· Additionally, transmission fluid, antifreeze, window washing fluid, and power steering fluid all need to be checked periodically by a mechanic. These are often inspected as part of an oil change. Unless you are a mechanic yourself, it is best not to top any fluids off if they look low. If a liquid appears low, go to a mechanic to find out why. Sometimes what looks low to you is actually normal, and if you top it off, you will be overfilling, which can cause great harm to an engine.
In each case, it is far better to have things replaced before they wear out or get low. The cost of prevention is much less expensive than the cost of fixing something that has broken as a result of not maintaining your vehicle.