5 Cheap Car Repairs That Pay Off Big Down the Road

For some folks, getting a new car can cost the equivalent of a year’s after-tax salary. After spending that much on four wheels and an auto body, you’d think it would run trouble-free for a decade.

That’s a lovely dream. The reality is that regular maintenance and vigilance are required. That way, a small issue won’t turn into a huge, expensive problem.

Maintenance and vigilance pay off in the long run, too. Today’s cars can last 200,000 miles if you take care of them.

Following are some easy fixes that can help you avoid big repair bills later.

1. Respect the ‘check engine’ light

That “check engine” light could mean something as simple as a loose gas cap. Or, it could be an issue with the oxygen sensor, which can cost about $250 to fix.

Put off fixing an oxygen sensor, and two things can happen: decreased mileage now and a big, fat repair bill later. So, get that light checked out.

2. Fix the PCV valve

Mileage still bad? Engine somewhat sputtery? It could be your PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve.

If that’s the issue, fixing it now could cost $100. By contrast, ignoring it could lead to costly engine damage later.

3. Repair small windshield cracks

Suppose the vehicle in front of you flings a piece of gravel straight into your windshield. The resulting ding isn’t pretty, but it isn’t a big crack. So, you consider ignoring it.

Don’t. The small chip can expand into a giant crack that impedes your vision and ultimately leads to the need for a new windshield. Driving with a damaged windshield can also lead to a ticket.

The sooner you repair a ding, the better. For example, Edmunds reports that with chips in the glass, rain can drive dirt into a crack and make it harder to fix.

4. Pay attention to puddles

See a puddle under your car? Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then, get your vehicle looked at right away.

Whether it’s leaking oil, transmission fluid, water or gas, this is something that needs to be fixed now to avoid potentially bigger problems and expenses later.

Some experts suggest taking a minute to walk all the way around your vehicle and look for puddles before you get in it.

5. Don’t put off scheduled maintenance

Many drivers believe that scheduled maintenance translates into “another way the dealer can gouge me.” In addition, being without your car even for part of a day can be a major hassle.

It might be tempting to put off oil changes and other maintenance. But ignoring your ride can cost you.

Maybe the vehicle drives just fine right now, but perhaps you have been lucky. If it helps spur you to act sooner than later, picture yourself standing by the side of the highway, waiting for a tow. Now, picture it late at night or in the winter.

Besides, remember how much you spent to buy that vehicle? For the maximum return on your investment, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and keep an eye on things in between.

To help make sure preventive maintenance gets done correctly, check out “11 Keys to Finding a Car Mechanic You Can Trust.”

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
12 Easy Ways To Make Make Money Online Without Leaving Home

If you’re hanging around the house a lot these days — and who isn’t? — use your time to make some extra cash.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It

Millions of people overlook this potentially potent condition that tends to strike women and older adults.

2-Minute Money Strategy: How Should I Invest My Retirement Savings?

If retirement is on the horizon, you can’t afford to take too much risk, but you also need to make as much as possible. Here are your options.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.