Best Value Car Maintenance and Auto Repair Tips
|What Car Maintenance and Auto Repairs are Worth the Money?|
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
An investment is money spend that has an opportunity to make a profit, also called a return on investment. Typically, the bigger the investment you make, the bigger return your potential return. An example of an investment would be buying stocks or real estate. Historically, these types of investment have average return on investment of 8%. At 8% return, you could invest $1000 and have $1080 after one year of growth.
Most car maintenance is in the same category as paying your electric bill- it is an expense. But car maintenance is not optional, just like paying your electric bill is not optional if you want to continue using electricity. If you want your car to keep running and be reliable, you have to spend money on car maintenance. But as with most expenses, you want to minimize how much this expense costs you.
What car maintenance and auto repairs are worth the money?Most car repairs are in the same category as home improvements. For example, home improvement projects such as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom add about 75% of the cost of the project to the value of your home. This means that you are actually losing money by doing the project, but it does hold some of its value over the long term and you get to use the resulting project which has value to you.
For example, you might have a car that is worth $5,000 based on its make, model, mileage, and condition. But the car is in the shop and won’t run without major repairs. You could sell the car as-is for let’s say $2,500 to a salvage garage, or you could spend $3,000 on car repairs to get it in good working order. But even if you spend $3,000 on auto repairs, the car will still only be worth $5,000. If you spend $3,000 to repair the car, you’ll spend more than the car is worth.
|How Much Money Should I Spend on Auto Repairs?|
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher
The reason to spend money on car repair is not usually to increase the value of the car- the reason to put money into repairing a car is so that it will run well and you can use the car instead of spending more money to buy a different car. It is the same concept as spending $25,000 on a kitchen remodel that will only increase the value of your home by $20,000. You may choose to do the remodel even though you will lose money on the project since you can enjoy the kitchen, and it may allow you to stay in your current home instead of moving.
Top 10 Most Cost-Effective Car Maintenance and Auto Repairs
Here is a list of the top 10 most cost-effective car maintenance and auto repairs. These car maintenance items will keep your car running smoothly and improve fuel efficiency, saving you money on gas. The auto repairs on the list are things that don’t cost much, but improve your car’s safety and reliability. You will save money in the long run if you can keep your old car running for a long time without spending much money.
10. Oil change and lube ($30). For older cars, use conventional motor oil, not synthetic. My Honda Civic with 180,000 miles was leaking oil when I was using full synthetic oil. The oil leak stopped when I switched to conventional oil, which is thicker and less likely to leak in older engines.
The proper oil change interval is a subject of much debate on the internet. A safe way to go is to follow the oil change interval recommended by the maker of your car for your driving conditions. For most vehicles, this would be an oil change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles.
9. Check tire air pressure every fill-up (free). You will get better gas mileage with properly inflated tires, saving you money on gas. The proper inflation level is listed on a sticker inside the driver’s side door. You can get a tire pressure gauge for under $5. Tires will also last longer when fully inflated, preventing premature tire replacement.
8. Rotate tires every 10,000 miles ($30). Rotating your tires will help extend the life of your tires, preventing uneven wear.
7. Repair windshield chips or a cracked windshield ($65). The windshield is an important structural component of your vehicle. Windshield chips can grow into cracks, and cracks greatly weaken your windshield. A rule of thumb is that chips or cracks smaller than the size of a dollar bill can be effectively repaired. The cost to repair a windshield is typically $65, the cost to replace a windshield is typically $300 or more. You can save money and make your car safer by repairing windshield chips before your windshield cracks.
6. Touch up paint chips and wax your car ($20). You can keep your car looking good and prevent most rust by touching up paint chips and then putting a good coat of wax on your car. I have been using synthetic wax lately, which provides great protection and comes off easily.
5. Restore the lenses on your headlights ($20). There are several good headlight restoration kits available- these kits will make your old yellowed headlights look almost new again. You will also be able to see better at night if you restore your headlights.
4. Change your timing belt ($800). This auto repair is a bit painful. Changing a timing belt costs a fair amount of money, but if your timing belt breaks while you are going down the road, it could ruin your engine. Some cars have “interference engines”- this means that valves or pistons can get tangled up if the timing belt breaks, ruining your engine. If your maintenance schedule calls for a new timing belt- typically at 100,000 or 120,000 miles for many vehicles- consider taking care of this to prevent major problems.
Ask the mechanic to place a sticker near the timing belt indicating that the timing belt was changed and the mileage and date. This will help a lot if you sell the vehicle. You will be able to easily show that you have completed this expensive repair, improving the resale value of your vehicle.
3. Change your windshield wiper blades ($20). Having windshield wipers that work well make your car safer by greatly improving visibility in rain, snow, and muddy driving conditions.
2. Shocks and struts ($800). Replacing shocks and struts is another fairly big auto repair item. Your car will ride a lot smoother and quieter if you replace shocks and struts that have worn out. This also improves the safety of your vehicle, keeping your tires firmly on the road and giving you maximum control for steering and braking.
1. Give your car a tune up ($200). Replace your spark plugs, adjust your timing, and get your engine to peak performance. A tune-up will make your car run better and get better gas mileage, saving you money on gas.