While you’re cruising down the highway, a tiny light comes on your dashboard. You dismiss it because it’s only the oil-change icon, and you think you can afford to stretch it for a few hundred miles.
And then another light appears. This time, it’s the check-engine icon. Panic mode instantly sets in.
Car repair costs can inflict serious damage on our wallets. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help lower the tab. In some cases, these pre-emptive steps can eliminate the need for repairs altogether.
To reduce the cost of car repairs and maintenance, keep the following seven tips in mind:
1. Check and change the oil regularly
Regularly changing your oil is the best defense against oil pump replacement and costly engine repairs. The cost of replacing an engine can easily be $2,000, and often much more.
Instead of following the standard advice of changing the oil every 3,000 miles, whip out your owner’s manual to confirm what’s best for your ride. You may find that the recommended oil change interval is every 6,000 miles. Some luxury cars will let you stretch further than that.
Also, check your oil color and level regularly. If the oil drops to the minimum level indicated on the oil dipstick, add oil now. (Your owner’s manual will tell you the type of oil that is best for your car.)
Also regularly check the engine coolant level and the tire pressure, two other things all car owners can easily do themselves. Checking tire pressure is a must-do when the seasons change.
“Goodyear experts explain that air pressure in a tire typically goes down 1 to 2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change,” Goodyear says.