Car maintenance is one of those unavoidable things that most of us dislike having to spend on. Not spending on it at all however is far worse as it eventually leads to much bigger bills and inconvenience. I do however have some advice how to actually keep your servicing costs down in the long run.
Now I’m not going to be talking about how to find the cheapest deals and the lowest prices as such things are fleeting and have too many variables involved. I will instead be giving tips on how to keep servicing costs, requirements and inconvenience to a minimum over the duration of the car’s life in spite of whatever superb deals you may be able to find from time to time.
Service regularly Yes I know I sound like a naggy mechanic or salesperson but it is true. Regular servicing is a far better and cost effective alternative to time consuming and costly repairs resulting from the lack of regular preventive maintenance. Much like how our bodies can greatly reduce the risk of disease and health issues by maintaining a healthy diet with regular exercise, the same goes for our cars.
Regular servicing doesn’t even have to be all that often, it can be as little as once every 6 months usually taking less than 2-3 days out of a year. Having to repair a major issue that could have been prevented will easily set you back more than double the cost and downtime.
Don’t cheap out too much Time and again we are bombarded with really great deals on servicing and oils and spare parts from every direction. The automotive industry has been and still is very competitive especially on the pricing front. However as the adage goes: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.
That is not to say that there aren’t legit amazing deals around, they do exist. However, there are just as many if not more cases where the product being offered at an insane price isn’t exactly the real deal. In these cases it could be anything from subpar products to even counterfeit products, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell them apart these days. You tend to get what you pay for and using subpar products on your car does run you the risk of suboptimal performance that can potentially lead to major reliability issues. I’ve seen enough cases that have resulted in costly and lengthy repairs that could’ve simply been avoided by spending an often inconsequential bit more money.
So the important thing to do here is to not get easily tempted by an irresistible deal and just do a bit of homework. Always remember that everything has a cost to it and if the cost is not being borne by the seller then it’s probably the product that has somehow been gotten or produced on the cheap.
Don’t over buy too much either On the other end of the spectrum from the previous point is to not spend unnecessarily on things that have little or no benefit. For example, expensive “performance” oils aren’t really going to do anything for the average car. Many such oils are in fact designed for track use where it offers lower resistance but also lower longevity. This is fine for track and race use as the engines are serviced just before and after the event. But for the average car doing 6 month service intervals, what you really want is longevity and this can be had in much more affordable road use oils.
Another thing to consider is original vs OEM parts. OEM stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer”, so for consumables such as oil and air filters, most if not all car brands do not actually make their own and basically get them from an OEM factory and have their logo printed on it. I’m not going to say that you should get the cheapest OEM stuff you can find, but a reasonably priced OEM product can be significantly cheaper than an original one with pretty much identical performance.
If you are the type who prefers to use original as much as possible though, then you do you. But if it doesn’t matter to you, in many instances reputable OEM products are a great lower cost alternative without compromises.
Form a relationship with a workshop you trust Now I know I may appear incentivised to give this piece of advice given the fact that I myself run a workshop, however I assure you that this advice comes from my experience in other unrelated areas of my life.
So unlike the past reputation of the industry, the large majority of workshops these days are actually run by honest people trying to make an honest living and aren’t out to cheat their customers. Now I do also agree and respect that going around different workshops to find the best deals is a perfectly fair practice. But there are plenty of legitimate benefits of building up a good long term relationship with a trusted workshop. Some of these benefits could include:
More flexibility in priority and pricing
Access to more knowledge sharing and industry insights
A better understanding about the specific condition and quirks of your car which makes troubleshooting quicker and easier
A willingness to go out of their way or at least point you in the right direction to help resolve issues that aren’t within their area of expertise
Now of course these are very subjective and your mileage will vary, but as much as the workshop needs to gain your trust, you as a customer can also enjoy great benefits by having a good rapport with them.
Learn how to inspect your car yourself Knowing what to look out for can really help you detect issues before they become a real issue. Things such as oil level, coolant level, tyres and brake pads are relatively straightforward things that pretty much anyone can learn to inspect themselves in about 5 minutes.
With servicing intervals being about every 6 months on average, there’s really a whole lot that can happen in between this time that can end up causing major issues if left unchecked. Spending just about 5-10 minutes learning and checking things yourself every 2-3 months can go a long way to avoiding major repair bills in future.
So those are some of the things I personally do to save money on servicing my car and I do hope it helps you save money as well. As costly as car repairs can be, a lot of the time they are avoidable when properly taken care of.