3 Ways To Stretch The Life of Your Car

3 Ways To Stretch The Life of Your Car August 11, 2011

A recent AAA survey came out that said 54% of Americans don’t want the financial headache of having a new car payment.  With the uncertainty of the economy causing unrest among Americans, the trend has been to keep your car running as long as possible.  Unfortunately, while the economic bind has kept drivers from upgrading their vehicles, the cost of repairing their old cars is becoming more and more burdensome.  According to USA Today, 25% of drivers have neglected repairs and maintenance on their vehicles in the past year because of economic reasons.

Even more shocking were the stats that said 28% of drivers could not afford a repair bill of $2,000 and nearly one in five drivers couldn’t afford a $1,000 repair bill.  (This, of course, is why it’s so important to maintain a healthy emergency fund!)

Stretch out the Oil Change

Even large oil change chains agree that driving habits matter more when it comes to changing your oil.  The standard 3,000 miles or 3 months has been stretched to 5,000 or 5 months.  Always be sure to check your owner’s manual to see the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance schedule and be sure to document each service visit so that you’re confident the next time you go to the mechanic.

Service the Small Things

Don’t let a $300 timing belt repair turn into a $1,200 engine problem because you thought it would be ‘ok for a while.’  The same can be said with brakes and tires.  Why risk the chance of further damage and more repairs when you can take care of the problem sooner?

Drive Less; Carpool More

There’s no guarantee that driving less will mean fewer repairs, but it certainly will reduce the wear and tear that is put on your car.  If you have two cars in your family, try to schedule trips with one car and alternate vehicles when possible to keep them running to spread the wear.  With gas creeping up to $4 for many parts of the U.S., this strategy could reduce your family’s gas bill significantly each month.

Have you tried to reduce your car expenses this year through creative ways?  Meet you in the comments!

image: ebis50

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  • I didn’t even realize the standard oil change mileage had increased from 3000 miles until I purchased my new car about a year ago. The owner’s manual suggested to only change the oil every 5 months or 5000 miles, which I found very surprising. It’s great that you posted this, to help other people know they can cut their oil change maintenance budget almost in half.

    • Tim

      Same here! I’m driving a 2006 car and it calls for 5000 miles or 5 months. It’s saving me 60-80 in oil changes each year!

  • I change my oil every 4,000 miles, but I have old (16 & 14 yrs. old) cars!

    • Tim

      Sounds like a good middle ground :) That saves you an oil change each year.

  • I need to work on all of these. I still need to get an oil change that I’ve been putting off for months and I am the queen of putting off the small service problems…ick…

    • Tim

      I knew someone who forgot to change their oil for almost a year…car didn’t last too long after that..

  • Totally agree on making sure little things are handled before bigger problems emerge from the little problem. This is true with cars as well as life in general!

    As for oil changes, I’ve been changing oil every 4,000 miles. While I like to handle things in such a way that I don’t let little problems become big problems, I do agree that oil changes can be stretched. Some cars can handle that. Newer cars should be able to go to 5,000.

  • Good points on the oil change…unfortunately, a lot of service centers still like to put the “3 month/3,000 mile” sticker on the inside of everybody’s windshield…regardless of the make/model of the car. It would help if they updated that to 5 months/5,000 miles instead.

    Also…in regards to oil changes…I wonder what is going to happen when the Tesla Model S sedan hits the market in 2012. There is no internal combustion engine in the car, and therefore no need for oil changes or gasoline. Hopefully the savings on that will not be offset by the cost of plugging the car into your home electrical outlet.