Saving tips to stretch your vehicle budgetWritten by Nick Shultz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Cutting expenses is a high priority during these tough economic times. When it comes to our cars and trucks, we have to spend money in order to save money. Waiting for your vehicle to break down will usually take a large bite out of your vehicle budget. Having scheduled maintenance performed at regular intervals is always cheaper than following a breakdown maintenance plan.
It will cost you much less to have your vehicle serviced on a regular basis than it would to wait for your car to break down. A good example is brake-system maintenance. Servicing our vehicles’ brakes on a regular basis can save us hundreds of dollars in a short period of time. Waiting for our brake systems to fail can cost us three or even four times as much money in additional parts and labor.
It is true for virtually every system on our vehicles. From our vehicles heating and cooling systems to the transmission and differentials, a regular maintenance plan will save us big bucks in the long run. Our car will last longer and perform better as well. The single greatest way to save money on our vehicle expenses is to perform regular scheduled maintenance upon them.
Hire a professional
I am sure your neighbor’s son is a fine young man. I doubt, however, he is qualified to work on your car. The money you think you are saving most likely will be absorbed in system-related failures. These failures are most likely brought on by technician error. Here’s an example: Removing bolts from some modern-day engines in the incorrect order can destroy or seriously damage the engine. The damage to the engine can cost thousands of dollars to repair. You heard me right: Tearing one or two bolts off a modern engine in the incorrect sequence can destroy it. This is only one example of the many things an unqualified person can do to damage our vehicles. Do you really have that much trust in your neighbor? A professional is also unlikely to call you and say, “I replaced the part we agreed on and now I have found another part that needs replacing.” What that shade-tree-mechanic is really saying is; “I really don’t have an idea what’s wrong with your vehicle, but I intend to keep hanging parts on it till it’s fixed or until you run out of money.”
A professional technician does not need to use the hit-and-miss approach to diagnosis. It is true that a professional may cost you more per hour in labor expenses; however, you will find that he or she is well worth that expense, and the overall repair bill will most likely cost less.
Economy priced parts are a waste of valuable money
Discount oils and filters and even replacement parts are often a waste of money. Those items are usually poorly engineered and don’t meet minimum standards. Sometimes they are rejected by manufacturers and repackaged and then sold to the general public under a different label or brand name. Beware of these parts.
Properly inflate tires
Not only will maintaining our tires at the proper air pressure get us better fuel mileage, but it will also help our tires to last longer.
Keep your vehicle clean
Yes, a clean vehicle lasts longer and is less likely to break down. Vehicle owners who keep their vehicles clean are more conscientious and, thus, more likely to maintain the entire vehicle.
Extended idling uses fuel
A vehicle needs to develop oil pressure when first started in order to operate properly and prevent engine damage. This occurs almost immediately after it is started. Even on a cold morning, your engine develops proper oil pressure in just a few moments. It is not necessary to have the interior of our vehicles at 80 degrees before we begin to drive them.
A normal engine idles at about 800 to 1,000 revolutions in a minute when warm. It may idle slightly higher when cold. It takes a significant amount of fuel to allow our interior temperature to reach a comfortable level. Perhaps as much as 10 minutes of idle time is required. Our vehicles’ air-conditioning system requires much more fuel to operate then most folks can imagine. It can take up to 20 horsepower to operate our vehicle’s air conditioning system. As much as a 10 percent loss in fuel economy can be noticed. Even the latest A/C systems use power. I operate the A/C on my vehicle only when absolutely necessary. That usually means whenever the wife is with me.
A few more savers
Use the manufacturers recommended oil viscosity for the temperature at which your vehicle is operating. Most manufacturers recommend a different oil viscosity in the winter than in the summer. Using the correct oil viscosity can save fuel and money.
Also, replace or repair safety-related components as they fail. This includes all lights and wipers. Our vehicles safety-related components and devices are meant to keep us safe. They were also designed to make others aware of our presence and intentions. We all can share stories of people driving without their headlights on or failing to use blinkers when changing lanes or turning corners. An accident eats up the auto budget quickly regardless who was at fault. Good common sense and good auto sense most often are one in the same. When we exercise either, we begin to save money.
Nick Shultz is an instructor of Automotive Technologies at Owens Community College. He is an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau who specializes in cases involving the Ohio and Michigan Lemon laws. He is a certified master automotive technician by ASE, General Motors and Ford Motor Company. Schultz will take automotive technical questions from readers at email@example.com.