With the economy still going bad with no immediate promise of recuperation in the next few months, a lot of people are finding the need to be more frugal in their spending decisions. Cutting costs and saving money seem to be more important than ever as people are losing their jobs or are now faced with financial uncertainty in the next few months. One of the challenges motorists face today is how they can be wiser in expenses that involve their vehicles. Cars are a necessary commodity for us to get around effectively. And since replacing our current rides prove to be an unrealistic thing in the road ahead, one must learn the necessary skills to keep their cars in top shape without having to spend more. The following are practical ways one can be frugal on common situations where motoring expense cannot be avoided.
Buying the right parts
Saving money when it comes to buying parts for your vehicle is not as simple as buying whichever part costs less. The decision on whether it is wise to buy replacement parts over dealer parts requires some thinking. Replacement parts are parts that are not sold under the branding of the car make you have. These could be from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the car you have or from a different parts manufacturer which make components of the same appearance and function.
The general rule of thumb when opting to buy replacement parts is to compare the price of the original and the replacement part. If the difference is not that big, it might be wiser to buy original. On the other hand if the difference is pronounced, then one can consider buying a replacement part.
In working with major auto parts stores in the country, I have seen how it might be a good decision to buy replacement parts for parts found on the under chassis of one’s vehicle. Parts like stabilizer links, bearings, tie rods and rack ends maybe replaced with cheaper ones without much risk to function. The same goes for bearings, oil seals and gaskets.
For more vital parts like fluid filled engine supports or brakes, it might be best to buy original for that added security. Having a store you trust when it comes to buying parts online will also be a big help.
Taking your car to the carwash
It might sound like a logical argument to save money on car wash by doing the deed yourself. A simple analysis on what one needs to wash a car will definitely peg the cost way lower than when one decides to have it done regularly in a nearby car wash. If one wants to do the cleaning of one’s vehicle himself, all he needs is a hose, a wash mitt, some cloth for drying, a pail and maybe some car shampoo. The fact that these materials can be used over and over again at the comfort of one’s front yard further reduces the cost resulting in enormous savings.
The truth of the matter is that, one has to be really familiar with the in and out of washing before one can actually save by washing his or her vehicle by himself. Though washing one’s car looks like a simple task, one can actually create long term damage to one’s vehicle if this is not done correctly. Your vehicle’s paint and finish can easily be damaged by using inappropriate household cleaning agents which can strips its wax. Micro abrasion might also result from any particle on your cleaning cloths or mitts which can grow to unsightly scratches on your vehicle’s surface.
The Oil Change
Oil changes are one of the basic things every car owner must be familiar with. It is also so common as a maintenance practice that it is safe to assume that every car owner has had the experience of having his or her car’s oil changed. In trying to save on oil change there are two questions that must be addressed. The first is where it is cheaper to get an oil change and which oil is best to use.
Deciding where you will get your oil change is very important if one wants to get the best bang for your buck. Like in buying parts, it helps to get involved and find out how your local service station or auto shop is handling the job as compared with your car dealership’s shop. Having your oil changed on independently owned garages or service station may prove to be cheaper and faster. The only problem with having it done in these places is the probability that they will be using a replacement oil filter. Usually, the process might prove to be longer if a need for a drain plug bolt or a sealing washer arises and they do not have any in stock. Cost varies and if you are not lucky you might have to tip the mechanic which adds to your expense.
Having your oil changed in the dealership’s shop may be more expensive. Still, choosing this location has some advantages like standard rates, original oil filters and factory recommended oil; plus the availability of any need for bolts and washers.
Between synthetic and mineral oil, the former may prove to be a better choice in the long term. Even if mineral oil is cheaper than synthetic oil, one can use synthetic oil for a longer period of time, sometimes up to three times longer. This means you can save on the labor cost and filter cost for two oil changes. This is also good for a turbo if you have one.
Unlike engine problems or issues involving your running gear, there are aspects of your car which you can opt to try to find creative ways of fixing once they show some problems. One of these is the car’s air conditioning compressor. When your car AC compressor fails due to age, you will be surprised with the need to shell out a few hundred bucks at least to have it replaced. Add to this cost the price for a new expansion valve, evaporating coil and condensing oil and you will see how big you have to spend to have the comforts of riding with your AC. If you need replacement compressor parts, there is many brands such as PMJ International that will have the parts you need.
An option you can take is to go for replacement parts and a surplus compressor, but this may still be a bit expensive. In this time of global crisis this option might not give a good enough saving.
The solution? Try having a certified mechanic rebuild the compressor. It may take some time for you to find a shop which does compressor rebuild. This means they take the compressor apart and rebuild it with parts from other compressors. Scroll type compressors for example can be easily rebuilt. The only drawback to this type of work is one cannot rev past 2000 rpm when the AC is activated to prevent damage to the scrolls. This might be a blessing though because driving with this in mind may even help you save on fuel. If acceleration is really needed, then you can always turn off the compressor with a push of a button from the dash.
This is not something that one can do forever, but it will surely help in prolonging the life of your compressor and save you a few hundred bucks. That way, you will only spend much when you actually have to.
Saving money is always a welcome topic whether one is living in uncertain times or not. Most of the time one will be surprised how knowing more about one’s vehicle can actually keep one from a lot of unexpected expenses and headache. The four tips above done regularly will not only keep more dough in your wallets but will help you maintain your car so it stays with you longer.
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