Manufacturers are doing their best to extend the life of your vehicle and its parts. To do so, Manufacturers call for scheduled maintenance to keep your car a top-notch athlete. Although these intervals are often expanding, in your favor (just think of the old three months 3,000-mile oil change), keep an eye on them and your money to see which method is best for you.
If payment is tight and you’ve got some time to throw at some of your automotive tasks, try these five ideas to save you some money overpaying to have them done:
1. Change Your Oil
POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 45-50%
If you are prepared, you can change your oil and filter in 30 minutes or less. Use some of the extra savings on a quality product (synthetics anyone?), and watch for specials as stores run them all the time. You can buy it ahead of time and shelve the items for a few months until you get around to it!
You should be getting an oil change every 3,000 miles or three months to keep your car up and running. If you have experience changing oil, you can do this at home and save some money on the cost of labor that a mechanic would typically charge.
2. Change Your Air Filters
POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 35-50%
An automotive shop quoted me a 1/3 of hour labor to replace the cabin air filter in our van. The labor cost would be $30.73. The screen itself was $33.42. In our van, you open the glove box, remove the side tabs, ease glovebox down, and you are at the filter. Replace the filter and reverse procedure. The only way this is a 20-minute job is if you stop to eat a sandwich.
The dealership charged me $36.00 labor to install the same cabin filter and also the engine filter. On average, these take no more than 15 minutes to do and are easily changed! Look around to find the correct procedure for your car. These are routinely checked and replaced, so they are often not hard to get at. You can also get hold of doorstep servicing with the help of the getpitstop.com.
3. Change Your Fuel Filter
POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 80%
Some cars are doing away with these, so don’t panic if you don’t find one. You are already saved by not having to change it. For example, a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe nor a 2009 Honda Odyssey has a serviceable fuel filter. It is built-in with the fuel pump system.
If your car does, the savings can be significant. To change the filter on my truck, I was quoted: $82, $85.99, and $90. The Original Equipment ACDelco part can be ordered for around $15. Again, find specifics for your vehicle, but don’t forget to relieve the line pressure and, of course, work safely considering the fluid.
4. Change Your Coolant
POTENTIAL SAVINGS: Up to 50%
This one is a little more difficult to nail down depending on what kind of coolant and how much you need, but I found costs to range from $55-130 at area service centers. To purchase a gallon of coolant on your own, and you’ll likely need more than one, costs from $10 and up. A coolant flush additive will add extra time and money to your tally.
Although there is a saving here, consider that you will be needing to recycle a fair amount of fluids, and safely waiting on the engine to cool can be time-consuming. (Yes, there are those that safely work around or with the hot fluids, but it can be dangerous for those that aren’t trained in doing so.) Check out the procedures for your vehicle, and don’t forget that the system is under pressure – especially when hot!
5. Change Your Own Spark Plugs
POTENTIAL SAVINGS: 51-77%
Start by researching the spark plug maintenance details for your specific vehicle before you travel down this street. Many are easy and accessible, while there are a few that will make you wish cars never had spark plugs. Thanks to AutoMD’s Repair Cost Estimate, they approximate that changing the spark plugs on a 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe would cost you $62 to do yourself, $234 at an independent shop, and $266 at the dealership. They estimate you will pay for 1.8hrs of labor time, a 73-77% savings if you do it yourself. A 2010 4cylinder Camry will require 0.8hrs of labor time and cost between $130-138 to change all 4. Doing it yourself would let you save between $67-84 or 51-61% savings.
Don’t delay in getting them changed, one way or another, as build-up on the plugs can make it more difficult to remove. Wait for the engine to cool and work with the right tools to gently remove the plugs straight out. Putting leverage to any one side may damage the cap. When re-installing, check for the torque specs on your vehicle as it does not take much to seat the plugs.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that the part cost and labor rate can change drastically depending on your area, part selection, or service center. Maintenance procedures should be done following manufacturer recommendations and specifications.
Unless you live in a city with easily accessible mass transit, you rely on your car for your day to day life. Whether you drive into town from the outskirts daily or just enjoy visiting friends in neighboring cities, your vehicle must be in tip-top shape, or you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere. By making sure to keep your car tuned up, you also ensure your safety and avoid a lot of frustration. These mandatory auto maintenance tips are the most important things you should do for your car to keep it running smoothly for years to come.
Taking your car in for these tune-ups is easy enough, but the essential car care tip is to have reliable auto insurance. And getting proper insurance coverage for your car isn’t tough as long as you seek help from credible providers like Youi.