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Keep Your Car A Lot Longer

With the economy still struggling, everyone is looking for more and more ways to save money.  Probably one of the easiest ways to save is to keep your car a little longer.  A new car that costs $25,000 will still set you back $377.42 a month for 60 months even with $5,000 as a down payment at 5% interest.  A little regular maintenance once a month will be a fraction of a new car payment.  With a new car comes a whole basket of other increased expenses as well.  Everyone I know seems to forget about excise tax when they buy a new car.  In Boston, for example, the rate is $25 per $1,000 of vehicle valuation at 90%, so a $25,000 car, which really isn’t that pricey in this day and age, will set you back $562.50 annually just for the excise tax.  That’s about a month and a half of car payments.  Of course insurance pricing varies from insurance company to insurance company, but your car insurance premium will definitely go up.  If you are financing your new car the title holder, meaning the bank, will want you to get mandatory coverage’s, and you can’t obtain a high deductible to help lower your premium.   If you like your car and there really isn’t anything wrong with it, except some wear and tear, or you did just buy a brand new car and you want to keep it for 7 to 10 years, there are basic things to do to drive it well after the car payments are finished.

The keep your car looking good, wash and wax it once and a while.  It is really no fun having a car that runs well but is dirty.  Try to wash it every few months or so properly, meaning using a suitable car wash liquid, appropriate applicators and driers, and wax it at least once a year. Acid rain, road grime, bird droppings, etc.., all eat away at a car’s finish.  If you don’t have the luxury of an automatic tire pressure gauge check the air yourself.  Underinflated tires wear more quickly and cause fuel efficiency problems.   A do it yourself tire gauge costs under $10, or it’s free at the gas station, and usually a dollar or less to add air for three minutes.  New tires can cost well over $100 each, not including installation.  Another free do it yourself check is the oil.  Make sure it is at the proper level, and add accordingly, but this is between oil changes.  Your oil and oil filter should be changed every five months or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first, the change from the old 3 months 3,000 miles.  Obviously if an engine seizes due to lack of oil, or oil break-down it will cost you thousands.    A real simple change that can be done yourself is to change your air filter.  A clogged air filter can hamper fuel economy.    It is so simple to do, and will cost much less than what a mechanic will charge, and your car will run better and keep its fuel efficiency.  Of course if you really know what you are doing you can do advanced maintenance yourself, changing spark plus, installing new brake pads, etc., but for the novice, go to your mechanic every once and a while.  You may dread the price of having to change your brakes, but sometimes when brakes do not feel like they are working properly they just may need to be adjusted.

Finally, don’t beat up your car, drive at the speed limit and don’t drag race at stop lights.  Basic respect of your car will keep it running much longer.  Even if it is six years old, think back to how you drove it off the lot, you probably weren’t speeding or taking corners too fast, treat it like it’s new.