As the national average for regular fuel has increased $0.45 since Jan. 20 (USA Today), it is estimated to continue increasing by .05 every week until early April. Opting for generic gas brands and using a credit card that offers rewards for fuel purchases helps reduce the pain at the pump, but you may need to take extra measures to make it more affordable in the long run. Here are some tips to help lower spending on maintenance and repairs.
Buy online Since repair shops often apply a markup and may not keep certain goods in stock, buying online is the smartest way to go. Review deals online and evaluate the repair to determine if you or a mechanically-inclined friend can do it. Parts that often need repair or replacement like lights, mirrors, filters and floor mats are cheapest online easy to install. I recently needed to replace a side mirror after I was side swept by another car. A local mechanic quoted the repair for $400 including parts and labor, so I ordered the part online for just $100!
Look for coupons To save on routine maintenance use coupons for local deals. Valpak.com organizes local coupons in the automotive category, making it easy to find savings on essential maintenance costs, plus discounts for car washes and windshield replacement. If there's a Jiffy Lube near you, check their website for regular promotions like $5 off oil change services. At FreeShipping.org, you can find an entire category page of online codes for discounts and free shipping on auto parts and auto care merchandise.
Get recommendations Ask for recommendations from friends and family. Ultimately, some mechanics will take advantage of the undereducated, so your best defense is to be informed.
Read your car manual Have you ever read your car manual? I learned this lesson the hard way when I continued to drive despite a red-light warning. My car was trying to tell me that it was out of oil, and ignoring it eventually led my engine to seize. I could have easily prevented a pricey car emergency had I just read the manual.
Keep up regular maintenance Regular maintenance will lengthen the life of your car and save you money on costly repairs. Whether you administer car repairs yourself or get them done professionally, read your manual for manufacturer recommendations on when specific maintenance tasks should occur as these vary among vehicles. This will help you stay on schedule and not be swayed by maintenance pitches from dealers or mechanics.