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If you don't take good care of your car, it will become a sink hole that drains away money you pour into it regularly. Ignore regular maintenance and you're courting a breakdown. This blog takes a look at some money saving tips for UK drivers.
- Look up the recommended service schedule for your make and model of car from the manufacturer. If the dealership where you purchased the car gave you a different schedule, follow it only if your warranty requires you too. Otherwise, if there are no warning lights on the dashboard and the car is running fine, it doesn't need to be serviced before the manufacturer's recommendation.
- Have the service done at a garage. Most warranties allow this (check to be sure) and you should get a cheaper deal from the mechanic than from the dealership.
- Wiper blades do not need to be replaced regularly, and only some high performance vehicles require costly synthetic oil. If a garage is trying to sell you some parts you're not sure that you need, check your service schedule or get a second opinion before committing.
- Check your tyres are inflated, including the spare. Air pumps at petrol station are cheap or free, and well-inflated tyres will wear out slower and use less petrol.
- If you don't know already, learn how to change a tyre and keep a jack in your boot. You don't want to pay a mechanic to do something that you could manage on your own. If you need new tyres, sites like Blackcircles.com offer good deals and deliver to garages all over the country.
- If you really think your car needs rust-proofing, it can be done by a local garage or you can do it yourself. Don't let your car dealer talk you into bumping up their commission with this add-on, rust is rarely a worry with a brand new car.
- High octane petrol is designed to protect your engine from knocking, but unless you have a high-end sports car, it usually isn't required. If you don't hear your engine ping or knock on regular petrol, there's no need to get the expensive stuff.
- If your service schedule or a trusted mechanics recommends replacing a part that still works, it might be worth paying for the replacement today, if the alternative is recovering and fixing a broken-down engine in future.
- Air filters and wiper blades are cheapest over the Internet, and there's no shortage of Youtube videos that explain how to replace them. Don't bother with the garage for these small maintenance jobs.
- Change your own fuel filter. Again, follow your service schedule, order parts online, and learn how to do it on Youtube. Changing the fuel filter every couple of years will stop the engine from clogging, which could cause it to fail.
- A proper log book containing receipts from repairs, MOT reports and a detailed service history will not only help you keep on top of your car repairs and help a mechanic identify problems if they occur, it also improves the resale value of the car if you want to sell it on.
- If you have the option, wait until your standard warranty is about to expire before deciding whether you need an extended warranty. Unless your car is prone to breakdown or you are driving it on unusual terrain, the cost of extending the warranty coverage is likely to outweigh the benefit.
- When taking out comprehensive insurance, look at the annual bill plus the excess. If that's more than half the wholesale value of your car, then it's probably not worth it. You'll end up paying more for insurance than you would to replace the car. You should consider saving by only taking out third party, fire and theft cover, especially if you are a careful driver.
If you do need to take your car to the garage, we also have some advice to keep you from being overcharged:
- Ask friends for recommendations and look at online reviews before selecting a garage. If someone has had bad experiences in the past, you want to avoid that place.
- Don't always go for the cheapest garage. They might be cheap because they cut corners. Try to find somewhere that is low priced and also has a good reputation.
- Look for a tidy workshop, kept neat and well-stocked, and if you feel like you can't trust the mechanic, have the courage to go elsewhere.
- An honest mechanic should be willing to answer any questions you have. If they aren't being straight with you, something might be amiss.
- If you're given an estimate before work has started, ask that no additional work be added without your approval of the extra expense.
- Test drive your car to make sure it is fixed before you pay.
- Pay by credit card if possible, that way you'll be protected if there is a dispute later on.
- Be respectful and courteous even if you suspect your mechanic is trying to deceive you. That way if you take it to a different garage for a second opinion and they ask for even more money, you won't have burned any bridges.