6 Easy Ways To Save Big Money On Car Maintenance

Skipping services or regular maintenance on your car is a very bad idea. You may save some money in the short term but at some point in the future, you are going to have to pay double, or even triple what the scheduled servicing would have cost. Regular maintenance is still the best way to save money on car repairs and maintenance, so look at the figures below, and decide how much you want to save- or pay in unnecessary car repairs.

The figures listed here are based on the records of the repair shop owned and managed by the author in South Africa, and reflect the actual costs some customers have incurred as a result of having neglected the servicing and maintenance of their cars during 2014/2015. All costs are based on one year of car ownership, and are quoted in $US for convenience. Since local prices and costs vary from country to country, use this converter to calculate costs for your location.

Regular oil/filter changes:

How long any engine lasts depends solely on the quality of the oil in it. Regular oil changes reduces mechanical wear, keeps the engine clean on the inside, extends the life of catalytic converters, and saves fuel because of reduced friction. Always use the oil recommended for your car by the manufacturer, and never exceed the prescribed oil change interval.

Average cost of one year’s worth of oil changes:                                                    $132.00

Average cost of an engine replacement due to lack of proper lubrication:   $4200.00

Timing belt replacement:

The timing belt is a crucial component that controls and regulates the opening and closing of the valves to ensure the smooth operation of the engine. However, timing belts have finite service lives, and in some cases the engine can suffer serious and even irreparable damage when the timing belt fails. Some engines though, do not suffer any damage, and a simple timing belt replacement is all that is required to get the car on the road again.

Although it is possible to replace the timing belt on a DIY basis, it is always a good idea to have this done by professional mechanics since the alignment of timing marks often requires specialized knowledge, equipment, and skills.

Average cost of timing belt replacement:                    $575.00

Average cost of repairs due to timing belt failure: $2 680.00

Regular brake inspection/replacements:

Although some brake system components such as discs, pads, drums, and brake shoes are designed to wear down, it is imperative that the brake system as a whole be kept in a near a perfect condition as possible, since the life of not only the driver is at risk, but those of his passengers and other road users as well.

Brake components that are allowed to wear down to below their safe (and legal) limits are not only dangerous, but can cause serious secondary damage as well, such as when the metal backing plate of the brake pads comes into contact with the brake discs. However, since driving conditions/styles differ widely, it is impossible to prescribe appropriate replacement intervals for these components, which is why regular inspections are crucial to maintain the effectiveness of any brake system.

Average cost of brake pad replacement:                           $80.00 to $155.00

Average cost of brake repairs due to excessive wear:  $256.00 to $385.00

PCV (Crankcase Ventilation Valve) replacement:

The correct functioning of this valve is crucial for the emission control system to work effectively, as well as to ventilate the volatile gases that result from the engine oil being heated.

If the PVC valve does not work correctly, the volatile gases cannot be directed into the engine to be combusted with the air/fuel mixture, which eventually causes the build-up of harmful sludge that seriously inhibits the oil’s ability to lubricate the engine. Worse though, sludge can block, or plug oil passages, which when it happens, can instantly deprive the entire engine of lubrication, with complete engine failure as a result.

Average cost of replacing a PCV valve every 60 000 kms:                                                     $20.00

Average cost of engine repair/replacement due to PCV valve failure: $4 200.00 to $5 500.00+

Spark plugs and air filter replacement:

Worn sparkplugs and clogged air filters cause increased fuel consumption, los of performance, and make it almost impossible for a car to pass an emissions test. Keeping the plugs and filters is one of the most basic maintenance procedures, but also the chore that is neglected the most often, and which can result in damage to the catalytic converter, oxygen sensors, and other emission control system components.

Average cost spark plug and air filter replacement:                              $80.00 to $110.00

Average cost of bringing vehicle emission compliant standards:  $760.00 to $1570.00+

Brake fluid replacement:

Brake fluid is the last thing on the minds of most mechanics when the service a car, but the result of neglecting regular brake fluid checks and replacements could result in sudden, and catastrophic brake failure.

Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, which could (and does) lead to brake fluid boiling at dangerously low temperatures, which when it happens, destroys the incompressibility brake fluid depends on the transfer pressure effectively. However, moisture saturated brake fluid also causes corrosion in the brake system, which in turn, causes leaks. In almost all cases, the only remedy for brake fluid leaks is the replacement of corroded components, which can be completely avoided by replacing the brake fluid once a year.

Average cost of replacing brake fluid:                                           $35.00

Average cost of extensive brake repairs due to corrosion: $1200.00+

A final thought…

All cars cost money to service, maintain, and care for but from the above, it should be abundantly clear that regular servicing and maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary repair bills over the life of your car. How much you want to spend in avoidable repairs is of course up to you, but the final thing to remember is that a properly-cared for car will always fetch a higher price on the used car market, as compared to car that had been neglected.

Regular maintenance lets you win in more ways than one- once in reduced overall costs, and again when you get a good price for it when you decide to sell it- and who does not want that?