Car maintenance can be expensive. So, be preventative! If you don’t want to end up spending triple what you thought you would on a used car, it is worth it to be super thorough before buying the vehicle. That way you cut down on costly repairs over time.
Below are some ways to help keep repair costs down for car maintenance.
Car Maintenance: How to Keep Repair Costs Down on a Used Car
No one likes dealing with high repair costs associated with car maintenance. The best way to prevent costly repairs is to find the right car first. This article will tell you a few key strategic precautions you should take before, during, and immediately after money exchanges hands.
Smell the Car
- AC problems.
- Electrical problems.
The simplest measures are often the most effective. The single biggest red flag you can possibly find on a prospective used car is a burnt smell.
A burnt smell could mean an electrical problem. These fixes can be expensive and difficult to spot. Worse, an untreated electrical problem could literally cause your car to burst into flames.
Obviously, you will want to keep other problems like mold and internal AC issues in mind as you go about sniffing the vehicle.
Take it for a Test Drive
The automotive experts at Autowise advise driving a minimum of 5 miles to gauge the state of the car. There are ways of actually turning the maintenance signals on a car’s dashboard. So you will want to run the engine for a good five miles to see if anything blinks back on.
- Turn on the air conditioning to make sure it works properly.
- A lot of people forget to check if the car functions properly in reverse. Don’t be one of those people.
- If it is a stick shift, try starting the car on different gears. If the engine turns on third gear, it’s an indication that the car is properly maintained.
Pop the Hood and Check the Screws
If these are different colors for any reason, it could be that you’re looking at a car that has been repaired after a collision. Major accidents are supposed to be reported and registered, but this is not always the case.
You will want to keep a keen eye on anything that says “salvaged” or “rebuilt title.”
The fluids you will want to check are:
- transmission, and
The oil will indicate to you what kind of care the previous owner has/had with the vehicle. It should not be too dark or viscous. If it is, you should proceed under the assumption that this car might have other problems under the surface.
Transmission fluid isn’t always possible to check. If you are able to inspect it, it should be reddish in color. This fluid only needs to be changed once every 40,000 miles.
The coolant should be greenish. This fluid also only needs changing a few times in a car’s lifetime.
Salvaged and Rebuilt Title
These cars should keep you on your guard, but that doesn’t mean they will break down after 50 miles.
Check the tires on rebuilt title cars. If the tires are being worn unevenly, that is a violent red flag. In a rebuilt title, unevenly worn tires could mean that the entire chassis has bent. This damage is irreparable and must be avoided at all costs. Not only can your tire explode on the road, but the root cause of the problem is basically unfixable.
Another way to check for chassis damage in salvaged or rebuilt titles is to stand directly behind the trunk and check that the lines are straight on the body of the car.
Find an Auto Repair Shop That Is As Transparent As Possible.
There are many mechanics out there who will take advantage of people who don’t know what is wrong with their car in order to extract double or triple the money.
For this reason, it is good to find somebody you know and to bring as much information as you can into the mechanic’s garage. You should avoid going in blind.
Since the 90s, many car manufacturers have installed mini-computers inside their vehicles that track the car’s “vitals.” In fact, this is one feature that insurance companies often use to offer a mechanical breakdown insurance quote based on what your car logs about your driving patterns.
The computer system will be able to know if the:
- oxygen filter is clogged,
- the electrical system is failing, or
- if there are airbag problems.
Back in the day, the devices used to obtain information from these mini-computers were worth thousands of dollars. You would connect to these through the aux cord. Today, it is possible to find an app that you can use to read your computer’s “vitals.” This is a way of preventing dishonest mechanics from price gauging you or charging you for unnecessary replacements.
Auto Zone, Auto Parts, and Napa Can Check the warning Signals on your Dashboard
Check engine lights don’t actually have to do with your engine with car maintenance. It’s really a general warning. Check engine just means you need to take your car to a mechanic. If one of these lights comes on the car you are considering, you should take it to Auto Zone for an inspection.
These auto shops have a device that can perform checkups on your battery and alternator.
Car Maintenance and Repair Costs: Wrapping It Up
Even though car maintenance can be costly, you can avoid some of these major problems by checking the vehicle first. It would be very helpful for you in the long run so you don’t end up spending thousands on a vehicle that you should have left sitting on the lot. Make sure you use these tips on your next used car hunt. Save yourself some valuable time and money!
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AUTHOR LaTia Longuemire
My name is LaTia Longuemire. I enjoy writing, singing, and cooking in my spare time. My passion is helping others. At this stage in my lifetime, I'm primarily focused on my children. They are everything that keeps my world spinning.