Purchasing a vehicle is a major expense, especially on an educator’s salary. In order to receive the most benefit for money spent on the vehicle, it is imperative to keep it properly maintained. Doing so will extend the life of the vehicle and keep costly repair bills at bay.
Where to Service a Vehicle
If looking at a car engine sends you into the throws of panic, it is best to find a trustworthy auto shop or car dealership for your vehicle’s maintenance needs.
Dealerships tend to be more costly than locally owned auto shops. However, the dealership may have better diagnostic equipment and more parts in stock for specific vehicles. Be sure to compare prices before making a decision.
If choosing the auto shop route, begin by asking others where they service their vehicles; then, look at the internet reviews for those specific shops and find out how long the shops have been in business. After narrowing down the list, see how much each business charges for their services. This research will help in finding a quality shop.
Certain maintenance is required on every vehicle, such as: changing the oil, replacing the air filter, rotating the tires, and changing the brake pads. Maintaining all of these aspects will extend the life of a vehicle and save money over time.
Generally, the oil and oil filter need to be changed every 3,000 miles. If using synthetic oil, it can be used up to 15,000 miles. Neglecting to properly change the oil will lead to extremely costly repair bills.
Every time a vehicle is serviced, the air filter should be checked. Depending on how much and where one drives, an air filter could go a few months or a few years without being changed. If the car is driven heavily in a city or dirt roads, it will need to be changed more frequently.
With tires, it is important to rotate them approximately every 5,000 miles or roughly every other oil change. Keeping them properly rotated will extend the life of the tires and the money spent to purchase them.
When it comes to brakes, the pads and rotors should be inspected when the mechanic rotates the tires, and he/she should provide an update of their condition. The brake pads will wear over time and it is important to replace them so they do not cause wear on the rotors. If left unchecked, the pads and rotors will both have to be replaced instead of just the pads.
Any other maintenance specific to a vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual or the maintenance manual that comes as a supplement to the owner’s manual. This manual details what maintenance needs to be completed at certain mileage intervals.
Ways to Save
The absolute cheapest option for vehicle maintenance is to learn to do it yourself. Now that so many do-it-yourself videos exist on the internet, this may prove a viable option for some. Teachers are supposed to be “life-long learners”, so maybe it is time to learn how to change oil. If choosing this route, AutoZone has a free “Loan-A-Tool” program where one can place a deposit for a tool, use it, and as long as the tool is returned in 90 days, the customer will receive a full refund. However, if doing it yourself would lead to imminent disaster, there are other avenues to save money.
At auto parts stores, they will generally check/charge a vehicle battery and change wiper blades free of charge. They will also typically discount oil, filters, and brake pads a few times a year. During the sale, purchase them and take them to the dealership or auto shop when it is time for each specified item to be replaced.
For tires, many businesses will offer free lifetime rotations if one buys the tires from their shop.
Also, never be afraid to ask the auto shop or dealership if they offer a teacher discount. Establishments that offer a military or student discount will generally give teachers a discount as well if asked.
As a side note, be sure to keep the service records. When it comes time to sell the vehicle, potential buyers will pay more if there is proof it has been properly maintained.
On a teacher’s salary, it may seem easy to justify prolonging vehicle maintenance, especially when nothing appears wrong with the vehicle. However, do not forego upkeep in an effort to save; in the end it will lead to costly repair bills and shorten the life of the vehicle.