A little bit goes a long way when it comes to keeping your vehicle in good shape. A trip to the mechanic doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg, and it could actually save you an arm and a leg down the road. Follow these simple steps now, and you'll rake in the savings later.
Get to Know Your Owner's Manual
Every make and model of car has its own set of specifications, but most drivers never bother to learn them. Always check through your owner's manual to understand recommendations for oil changes, engine maintenance, rotating your tires, and other routine jobs -- and then stick to that schedule.
While there are some general rules of thumb -- replace your brake pads every 20,000 miles, replace spark plugs every 30,000 miles, etc. -- look through the owner's manual to see if your vehicle requires anything more or less. For example, while Chevrolet recommends changing out the air filter every 45,000 miles, Ford will tell you to do it every 30,000.
Find a Quality Automotive Service Shop and Stick With Them
Too many people make the mistake of bouncing from shop to shop, looking for deals or simply stopping wherever's convenient at the moment. You'll do better to find a local auto repair shop that's knowledgeable and friendly, and it helps to be friendly with them yourself, too. Developing a relationship with your mechanic means more trust and more experience tending to your vehicle's needs.
And while personal referrals can be great, don't rely on someone with a fifth-hand connection, like your cousin's girlfriend's sister's uncle's friend, for example. If you're looking for a new mechanic, take the time to do your research right. Quality automotive service is always worth the investment. Make sure that the shop is legitimate and that all mechanics are master certified.
It's easy to keep putting off simple automotive repairs, but doing so can end up costing you more in the long run. If your check engine light comes on, you might be able to wait a few days to figure out what's going on. Unfortunately, too many people let days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into a busted engine. If that warning light starts flashing, pull over as soon as you can.
The same goes for oil: you can delay that oil change by another week or two, but make sure that levels aren't dipping dangerously low. Unhappy oil leads to unhappy engines, which can really do a number on your vehicle's functioning.
You and your car can have a long and happy life together, but the best relationships are built on mutual affection, communication, and commitment. Listen to your car. Take care of your car, and it'll take care of you for years to come.