Do Your Own Car Maintenance To Save Big Money
Cars are expensive. They are expensive to buy, operate, insure, and maintain. Nerdwallet.com says maintenance for even a new car, which is still under warranty, can cost an average of $112 a month.
So I am constantly on the lookout for ways to save money when it comes to my car.
One way you can save money on auto expenses is to do as much maintenance as you can yourself. I’m not talking about some of the more complicated and/or potentially dangerous jobs if you make a mistake, like replacing the brakes- leave those to the experts.
There are, however, a lot of smaller and simpler jobs you can do with little or no training.
Recently, for example, my mechanic told me my car needed a new cabin air filter. He showed it to me, and it was indeed filthy. He said they could replace it for $35. I had heard that this was something I could do myself, so I said, “no thanks”.
After the oil change, I drove to a local auto parts store and bought one for $14. Changing it was pretty easy.
For my car, it simply involved detaching the glove compartment, removing the old air filter, inserting the new air filter, and re-attaching the glove compartment. It took me about five minutes, and saved me $21.
Other car maintenance jobs I’ve done myself include installing new speakers, changing the battery, replacing spark plugs, jumpstarting a car, and replacing taillights. None of those tasks were particularly difficult. They just required a bit of research and time.
If you’re not sure exactly what part you need, visit one of our local auto parts stores and tell them exactly what you’re doing. People who work at those stores are experts, and they’ll be able to find the part for you in no time.
Installing and replacing your own auto parts means you won’t have to pay labor costs. According to AAA Auto Club, the labor rate charged by auto mechanics in America varies between $47 and $215 per hour.
Now, if you’re thinking that you’d like to start doing some of your auto maintenance yourself, but you don’t have all the right tools, you’re in luck. Many auto parts stores will let you “borrow” the parts you need!
I put the word “borrow” in quotes, because you do have to put a deposit on the tool you need. And the deposit usually just happens to be the retail price of the tool. But here’s the great thing: when you finish using the tool, if it is still in good shape, you can return it for a full refund!
I don’t blame you if you think this sounds a bit shady. When I first heard about this, it reminded me of people who buy an expensive and fancy outfit for a one-time formal evening affair, then return it to the store the next day to get their money back.
This is different. And legit.
O’Reilly Auto Parts’s own website says they’ve got over 80 different tools for you to borrow. Go to Oreillyauto.com and click on “Loaner Tool Program” for more info. Or ask your favorite auto parts store if they have a similar program.
One last way to save money on your car is to always have a can of tire sealant in your trunk. This stuff comes in handy if you ever have a flat tire.
Earlier this year, one of the tires on my car went flat overnight for no apparent reason. I didn’t have a spare tire, so I knew I had to get it to an auto shop. I live only one mile away from my favorite repair shop, but I knew I’d damage the rim if I drove even that far.
I thought about calling a tow truck, but they aren’t cheap. Even if my auto insurance would’ve covered the cost, I didn’t want to risk my insurance rates going up as a result.
Then I remembered I had a can of tire sealant. This stuff must last forever, because it was at least eight years old. I attached it to the tire nozzle and pressed the button. After a couple minutes, the can was empty, and the tire was inflated enough that I could then drive my car to the shop and have a new tire put on.
Having your car towed can cost $100 or more. A can of tire sealant? Ten bucks. Buy a can and throw it in your trunk. You can’t drive forever after you use it, but you’ll probably be able to at least get to a gas station or another safe spot. If you ever need it, you’ll be glad you have it.