Everyone is looking for how to save money, and your car is a great place to start. No one wants to shell out the big bucks on costly repairs. Focusing on preventative car maintanence is a great way to save money. Paying a little money now on some basic maintenance habits will save on expensive repairs down the road.

Have Your Vehicle Inspected

One of the best and most basic ways to start a good maintenance routine is to inspect your vehicle. You can take it to the experts and have a trusted mechanic give it a good look, but it doesn’t have to be that formal. Instead, here are some things you can look for at home on your own. First, ensure all the lights on your vehicle are working. Once a month, check the pressure in your tires. All you need is a tire gauge. It’s a good idea to always keep one of these on hand in your glove compartment. Keeping your tires at peak air pressure can save money in a few ways. The proper pressure in your tire prevents uneven wear and saves gas money by increasing your fuel economy. While you are at the tires, check the tread. One way to check your tire tread is to place a penny between the treads. Finally, always listen to the sounds that your car is making. If you hear anything new, you need to address it right away.

Check Your Car’s Fluids

You may or may not change the fluids yourself, but it’s important to know how to check all the fluids your car requires. You need to look at a few fluids, including antifreeze, coolant, wiper fluid, and power steering fluid. Some fluids are checked just by looking at the tank. The tank should be labeled with what fluid and what level the fluid should be filled to. Some fluids may require the use of a dipstick to check. Your owner’s manual will have information about all these fluids, where they are located, and how to check the fluid levels. Even more critical than fluid levels are fluid leaks. If you ever notice the signs of a fluid leak in your vehicle, have it addressed immediately.

Timing and Serpentine Belts Need Replaced

Standard intervals to replace your timing belt is every 60,000 miles, and the serpentine belt is 40,000 miles. Those are approximates, and your owner’s manual should have better information for your specific vehicle. These are good guidelines, but nothing beats an actual inspection of your belts. If you are in for another service, you may ask your mechanic to inspect and let you know their condition. If your belts look good, excellent. Otherwise, when your belts are worn out, have them replaced. If they are worn out, and you ignore this, it is only a matter of time before they fail. A broken belt can cause more damage to other aspects of your engine and cause a more costly repair later.

Oil Changes

You should have your oil changed regularly. This is a fluid you can check yourself. The oil should be at the right level and the right color. If you can determine that your oil is clean and not a dark, muddy color, you can catch engine issues early. The standard recommendation for oil changes can vary from every 3,000 miles to every 10,000 miles depending on the car type. Hybrid cars don’t need as frequent oil changes, for example. This information can be found in the owner’s manual.

Check the Battery and the Contacts

Batteries are more manageable today, with little maintenance required. The basics still apply, though. You will want to check that your battery is not leaking and that the contacts are clean of buildup. The terminals of your battery can be cleaned easily. A battery tester can give you a good idea of the battery’s state. Another good money saver can be a portable jump starter. You won’t have to spend money on tow trucks or waste your time waiting for someone to come and jump your vehicle.

Windshield Wipers

Wipers are an easy part of your car to ignore until you need them and notice they are not doing a good job keeping your windshield dry. Wipers are inexpensive, and changing them is a snap. Literally. Don’t wait until you notice how badly they need to be changed. Decreased visibility can lead to accidents that will cause you lots of money in the long run. Set a schedule to replace them. Also, it’s a great idea to have a schedule for washing the inside and outside of the windshield.

Replace the Cabin Air Filter

One of the most straigtforward and inexpensive maintenance tasks is the cabin air filter. Almost all vehicles have this conveniently located for you to reach. You can easily replace this yourself with a trip to an auto parts business.

Replace the Engine Air Filter

The engine’s air filter may not be as straightforward as the cabin air filter, but it is important to replace. The type of driving you do will be more of a determining factor regarding how frequently it will be required to be changed. For example, if you are doing more city driving that has you breaking more frequently, this filter will get dirtier faster. More information about how to replace this and how often can be found in, you guessed it, the owner’s manual for your car.

Tire Rotation, Tire Balance, and Tire Alignment

The holy trinity of tires is rotation, balance, and alignment. You can find out how often this is recommended for your car in your owner’s manual. This will depend on your vehicle type; for example, hybrid vehicles need their tires serviced more frequently than traditional cars. It also will depend on your driving habits. Tire maintenance significantly affects the amount you spend on your car’s maintenance and repairs. When your tires are balanced and aligned, and the tread wears more evening, you replace the tires less frequently. You also save at the gas pump. Your tires have a significant effect on your gas mileage.

Change Your Spark Plugs

Spark plugs wear out and get coated in buildup. When this happens, your engine works less well. This can cost money in extra fuel, and it can cause the engine to become in disrepair. Checking and changing these yourself is possible, but you may need to invest in some specialty tools to do so. Your local mechanic can replace these at the recommended intervals.