In these uncertain times, many of us are looking carefully at our household expenses to see where we can cut back.
Car owners like us are certainly feeling the pinch, not only with increasing car insurance premiums and fuel costs but the price of car servicing and maintenance too.
We have a Skoda Roomster as our family runaround but recently bought a secondhand Nissan Elgrand which can seat up to 8. When you have elderly parents to care for and kids to ferry about a car becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.
If you are looking for ways to save money by keeping your existing car on the road for as long as possible, regular car maintenance is vital if you want to avoid nasty repair bills.
Your basic checks should include:
At least every month and especially before any long road trips, inspect oil and coolant levels while the engine is cool. Letting the levels of these drop too low will lead to engine problems.
A properly functioning air filter regulates the air that flows into the engine and keeps out debris. Keep your air filter in good condition to improve fuel efficiency and decrease your emissions.
This is essential to ensure the family’s safety. Check your tyre pressure monthly, before long trips and if you are carrying an extra heavy load. Don’t forget the spare tyre either.
Invest in a decent tyre pressure gauge and remember that extra checks will be needed in the winter months. In the event of snow and ice, consider investing in winter tyres which can help shorten your stopping distance. Did you know that in the UK there are around an extra 6500 road accidents due to poor driving conditions?
Rotating your tires will help to extend the service life of your tires by more evenly balancing the tread wear, and helping prevent noise and vibration problems.
Unless you physically check your lights yourself, often you don’t realise there’s a problem until someone points it out. Hopefully, that someone won’t be a police officer!
Switch on your headlights when you’re parked in front of a flat surface and check that both headlights are working properly and well-positioned.
Take a walk around your car to check that parking lights and indicators are working.
Get someone to stand behind the vehicle while you apply the brakes to check your brakelights.
Your motor oil lubricates the moving parts and acts as a sealant against debris. It keeps the engine cool and reduces wear and tear. This helps prevent engine corrosion.
You need your oil to be clean and the correct type for your engine and, you will need to change both the oil and the oil filter periodically.
This can be done by the garage carrying out your vehicle service or, if you are mechanically minded, you can, of course, do it yourself. If you’re doing a lot of mileage or have a large or older car, you may need to change your oil and filter as often as every 3 months or 3000 miles.
You may have heard stories that cheaper supermarket fuel may lead to compromised engine performance. This may be true if you have a high-performance car or your vehicle requires higher octane super unleaded petrol but most of us are trying to save the pennies where we can.
Check fuel comparison websites and remember that the little arrow next to the petrol pump icon on the dashboard shows you which side of the vehicle your petrol cap is on.
I’m sure you know that automatically accepting your car insurers’ renewal premium could mean missing out of the savings and benefits sometimes reserved for new customers.
Always query the proposed annual premium and, if you want to stay with your existing insurer, it’s still worth doing some research on price comparison websites.
If you find a cheaper deal elsewhere, you can ask your existing insurer to match it.
Just make sure when you do use comparison websites that you are comparing like for like deals with the same level of cover and benefits (e.g. courtesy car and breakdown cover).
Many insurers will give you a discount for a multi-driver policy too – or a discount on related policies taken out with them (e.g. home insurance and pet insurance).
So there you have it. If you want to avoid hefty car repair bills and want to save some cash on fuel and insurance, these suggestions should help.
Do you have any car maintenance tips to share?