5 Simple Car Care Tips That Can Save You a Bundle of Money

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Make a small investment in these affordable car-care moves, and get a big return on the longevity and performance of your vehicle.

Once upon a time there was a television advertisement for Fram oil filters in which a mechanic was featured saying: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

That ad has disappeared, but its message still holds true. Yes, car engineering has become more sophisticated, and the need for “routine maintenance” has lessened — but don’t take that as a reason to ignore maintenance. That misjudgment can cost you thousands of dollars in corrective repairs or even car replacement.

“Manufacturers spend a great amount of time, money and effort making sure cars don’t have engineering defects. If there is a lemon, which is rare, they work hard to make sure it’s [replaced],” said Ben Perricone, territory manager, AAA mid-Atlantic, headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware “When you hear people say they don’t like [certain brands of cars] it’s often because of [lack of proper] maintenance.”

The shame is that most of us have all the maintenance knowledge we need at our fingertips — in the car owner’s manual. That helpful book details all the specific requirements — from oil weight to tire pressure — to ensure the car runs optimally for the longest time possible, but we too often ignore it.

Consider these five often overlooked maintenance tips that can save you thousands:

1. Change your oil

antoniodiaz / Shutterstock.com

Dad told you to change the oil every 3,000 miles. Or every 7,500 miles. Dad was probably right for the cars of yesteryear. Today’s cars still need regular oil changes, but they generally don’t need them at those mileage markers. And they don’t need the same type of oil — such as the 10W-30 Dad recommended. Individual models need oil changes at specified times, as outlined in the owner’s manual, and that’s where the type of oil needed also is listed. Do not veer from manufacturer’s suggested oil type (synthetic or conventional) or viscosity, said Perricone. Also, buy brand-name oil. Don’t opt for a generic. The reason: Brand names have the additives needed to lengthen the life of your engine. “Saving pennies on oil can cost thousands in repair costs,” said Perricone. No matter what a mechanic says, don’t deviate from the manufacturer’s recommendation.

2. Check your tire pressure

Air Images / Shutterstock.com

“Everyone says they do this, and no one does,” said Perricone. Why’s that important? Underinflation is the main reason that tires wear out, tread separates and blowouts occur. Underinflated tires can also allow your car to hydroplane in wet weather, causing loss of control. Plus, underinflated tires cause a 5 to 10 percent loss of fuel economy. Check your owner’s manual for proper pressure. Tip: If you fill your own tires at a self-service pump, be sure to check your tire pressure with a tire pressure monitor you purchase at an auto store. Self-service pumps offer “wildly inaccurate” numbers, according to Perricone.

3. Change your cabin air filter

NorGal / Shutterstock.com

This is the equivalent of the air filter in your home furnace, trapping airborne dirt and debris. Fail to change a car’s cabin air filter and you may need to spend more on allergy and other medications. Changing the filter annually should be sufficient, even for those who drive in heavy traffic that fills the air with toxins.

4. Swap out windshield wipers in spring and fall

Indy Edge / Shutterstock.com

Few people think about their windshield wipers until they fail. Wipers are exposed to road grime, salt and air pollutants, plus the blades bake in the sunlight reflected off the windshield. Spend the few dollars it will cost to change them twice a year, and you may save yourself from an accident caused by lack of visibility.

5. Wash your car in the winter

Nadezda Murmakova / Shutterstock.com

On the first warm day of winter, you always see cars coated white with the remnants of road salt. Your car may look like that right now. Winter salt and grime piling up on your car doesn’t just damage the car’s paint. It also leads to an ever-increasing rate of failing brake lines, said Perricone. That’s often because salt brine, which sticks to the road, also bonds to the underside of your car. Pay a few dollars to have your car washed and save hundreds on brake line replacement.

How well do you maintain your car? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 10 Ways to Make Easy Money

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,094 more deals!