It Doesn't Matter What You Drive.

Credit: By SuperTank17 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If your finances are anything like mine you probably cannot afford to just go out and buy a new car today no matter how much you really want to.  I am ok with that.  I have an older car that gets me from point A to point B everyday so that I can take care of the family.  That is what matters right?  So it is important to keep your current car running as long as you can.  I probably could not afford a huge repair bill, or the lost income of not having a car.  Could you? So here are some of the ways that I know to keep your car up and running and getting the most out of it.  They are simple, take up only a small part of your time, and best of all wont make you empty out your pockets.

Keep the Oil Clean

Top it off
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Most people know that you are supposed to change the oil in your vehicle every 3,000 miles.  Most people also ignore that bit of information.  My first car died for that reason.  I was told by a few people every 9,000 miles worked just as well and cost a third as much.  Needless to say my car stopped working.  It turns out that oil is what make your engine work.  My dirty oil was not doing the job and eventually metal rubbed metal enough to destroy my engine.  It is easy to avoid this.  Change your oil and oil filter at regular intervals.  Going over your mileage or time frame a little wont kill your car but putting it off will.  The cheapest way to get an oil change is to do it yourself.  It  can be done for $15 - $25.  It just depends on what brand of oil and filter you use.  You can alway take it into a service center.  That can get expensive though. If this is the option you are looking at compare the prices of all the service centers in your area.  Then go to their websites and see who is offering deals or coupons.  I have made a $50 oil change service $20 by looking into their monthly specials and coupons being offered on their services.  Also buy some oil to keep it topped off.  It is important to check your oil level and check it often.  It only takes a minute.  Just pop the hood and check the dip stick once a week before you leave the driveway for work.  Remember Dirty oil may harm your engine eventually, but it will never stand a chance without oil.

Take the Warning

engine light
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Everyone dreads seeing this light go on.  It is a sign that money is going to go missing from your bank account.  Half the people I know ignore this light when it comes on because they don't want to deal with it.  I don't get that.  Many part stores and service centers have the tools to check on the problem for sale.  Better yet many of them will offer to check on it for you and for FREE!  So why not get it looked into?  It will cost you a lot less to fix a problem now than to pay for all the problems that it causes later on.  If they tell you that there is a problem don't panic.  If you want, take it someplace else for a second opinion and get it verified.  If it turns out you are going to need work done take some time to shop around.  You may find that one shop will do it for considerably less than another.  This applies to all kinds of car repair.  Make sure that you are getting your service from a reliable source but make sure you are not overpaying for it.  If you have a friend that is mechanically inclined you may depend on them, you trust their work and they give you a deal that is.

The Little Stuff

Never forget the little stuff when you are taking care of your car.  They can become big problems later.  

Check to make sure your battery is working well.  With that always make sure that you turn off anything that may kill your battery when you leave your car for more than a few minutes.  Depending on the size of your engine a new battery could be a costly fix for something you could have avoided with a quick double-check.  

Check your tire pressure.  Along with giving you better gas mileage, properly inflated tires will help to prevent accidents.  And an accident can be a huge bill, body work for you and anybody you hit, mechanical problems the crash may have caused, medical bills that may have been incurred, and increased insurance payments to name a few.  Also if they are not already consider getting your tires siped for added traction especially during the winter.  The cheapest way to get it done is at the time of purchase of the tires.  Most places will give huge discounts on this service if it is purchased when the tires are, so spend the extra cash when buying new tires if you can afford it.

Listen to your car.  What you may think is just a loud belt or nameless noise could be a big problem in the making.  Ask in your parts store and see if anyone knows what might be causing the noise.  They will often offer advice free of charge and they most likely have seen a lot of car troubles before.   Again you can ask a friend about it if you have one that may know what they are talking about.  If you think that you do have a problem get it checked out by a professional before it becomes too costly and a danger to you.

In the end you can keep your car running better longer by preventing problems or treating them before they become serious.  If you don't have the cash for a new car or a costly repair bill spend a little money here and there to prevent the need.  A little preventive medicine can go a long way.