There’s nothing more infuriating than being in a rush to get somewhere like a first date, hopping in your car, then hearing it make a nasty sound. You take the car in to get it looked at, only to be told it’s a part that not only costs a lot, but it’s difficult to get to, which means high labor costs as well.

Car repair and maintenance is the last thing you want to deal with. You’re busy, and frankly, you don’t have time to deal with car repair costs.

There are hundreds of areas of your life where you can save money, such as taking care of your car. There are ways to minimize car maintenance costs, help your wallet, and ease your mind.

 

Change the Oil

Many mechanics will tell you the same thing: people forget to change their oil and it destroys their car’s engine. The time between changes depends on your driving habits, but most manuals say to change the oil anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 miles. Newer cars can go longer between oil changes, but this is the number one place where you can save money on car repair costs.

 

Change Air Filters

This will take you less than five minutes and should be done every 20,000 to 30,000 miles, depending on what your manual says. Clean filters keep dirt out of the engine and improve fuel economy.

 

Use Proper Tires

Avoid having different tires on the front and back of your car. You should also rotate your tires every few thousand miles. This ensures the best gas mileage and won’t put wear on the suspension, which can cost at least $1,000 if things are bad.

 

Embrace the Heat

No one likes to be sweaty while driving but instead of cranking your cold air on full blast, take it a few notches above max freezing. Air conditioning units are expensive to repair and running one as soon as you start the car reduces the life of the unit. Drive with the windows open for a short time to let hot air out—saving you 25% on your fuel economy while you’re at it.

 

Don’t Idle

You’ve probably heard this one before, but idling does not keep your engine warm. Idling uses up to a half-gallon of fuel per hour but restarting only uses about 10 seconds of fuel. Idling also produces wear on the engine that may cause issues down the road. And some cities have ordinances against idling.

 

Change the Way You Drive

According to Edmunds.com, the key to saving the most gas is right under your foot. Your own driving habits such as rapid acceleration, aggressive stopping, or speeding can hurt your gas consumption. Driving moderately could reduce fuel consumption by over 30% and put less stress on your engine.

 

Tune-Up Often

Properly inflate your tires and rotate them often. This reduces wear which means you’ll have to replace them less often. Other upkeep, such as replacing spark plugs, can help keep your car running. Take your car to a trusted mechanic and pay the cost for a tune-up. It’s better than paying hundreds or thousands on other car repair costs.

 

Use an Independent Mechanic

This could actually be the biggest place you save money. Dealerships have fantastic deals on maintenance and other upkeep, especially if you buy your car there, but they also overcharge on everything from labor to parts.

Look for a mechanic online. Check out their reviews or even ask your friends for someone. Instead of charging $500 for new spark plugs and ignition coils and “premium” parts, an independent mechanic could help you avoid those high costs.

Car repair and maintenance is no laughing matter. In fact, it can ruin your day and your budget, and make your late for your spike-ball tournament. If you still find yourself in a tough financial situation, see how Lift Credit can help you cover any nasty car repair costs.