4 Car Maintenance Tips That Can Prevent Big Repair Costs

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay small costs to avoid bigger ones, and your car is a prime example.

Tune-ups and maintenance jobs are usually less expensive than paying a mechanic to fix your car. Minor upkeep is also good for getting the most life out of your vehicle’s parts. No one wants to buy a battery, doohickey or thing-a-ma-jig because the old one wore out too soon and left you stranded. Or worse, with a major car repair.

A little extra effort can go a long way toward curbing the repair costs for your automobile. Here are four car maintenance tips that can delay or even prevent the need to pay for a big fix to your ride.

1. Check Your Spare Tire

It’s just as important to keep the reserve tire inflated as it is the four tires under your car. The last thing you want is to discover that your spare is flat while you’re pulling the jack out of the trunk. That’s when you’ll need to call a tow truck—which can run you hundreds of dollars when you add up towing, mileage and any fees. It’s better to spend a dollar at an air pump to inflate your spare. That can spare you the cost of a tow.

2. Change the Oil

How much can your car’s oil affect your budget? Bankrate reports that oil problems are potentially the most costly car maintenance issue. Most automobiles need oil changes every 5,000 miles or so depending on the car and the type of oil. It’s better to spend as little as $20 to get the oil changed than to put it off and risk wearing out your engine—which costs a lot more than $20 to replace.

3. Keep the Battery Clean

Corrosion (which looks like white or bluish powder) can form on the terminals of your battery. If you don’t keep them clean, the battery could develop a crack or not function properly, which could leave you stranded. Since a quality car battery can cost upwards of $100—and a tow can run you even more—it’s money well spent to buy a $5 wire brush and keep the terminals looking spiffy.

4. Replace the Brake Pads

Do you hear a squeaking sound when you hit the brakes? If so, your brake pads could be on their last legs. A new set can cost up to $300 for all four wheels, plus the labor charge if a professional installs them. We know that price tag may seem hefty. But being able to stop before rear-ending that Lexus in front of you is priceless.

The more proactive you are about keeping your car in good shape, the less money you’ll spend on it. That means you have more to save or pay off debt—and that puts you on track to win with your money!