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June 02, 2015

Do-It-Yourself Tips for Saving Money on Car Maintenance

Woman_mechanic_do_it_yourself_car_maintenance-iStock_000045551482_SmallSaving money and making it last as long as possible is something many people attempt each and every day. It’s surprising however that as much as people want to save money, they forget about looking after their vehicle. So let’s take a look at ways to keep your vehicle in shape without having to spend a bucket load of cash on car maintenance.

I often ask the students I’m teaching to drive who’s responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle; the owner of the vehicle or the driver? The correct answer is both. If the owner isn’t the sole driver of the vehicle, the driver should inform the owner if something isn’t working properly. The owner can either fix it themselves or have a professional do it.

Woman_windshield_wiper_blades-iStock_000029417912_SmallOne way to save money is learning how to do the little things yourself. After all, why pay a mechanic if you can properly do it yourself? Let’s start with windshield wipers. After a harsh winter with snow and ice it’s a good idea to change the wipers. Don’t forget about the rear window wiper if you have one. Typically a windshield wiper will last a year. They’re pretty easy to replace and usually have instructions on the packaging to help you do so.

After taking your winter tires off and before putting your all-season tires on your vehicle, it’s a good time to check your tires for uneven wear or damage. Look for nails or screws that may be stuck in your tire. Getting it repaired ahead of time will save you from having to change a tire when you least expect it. Underinflated tires tend to have more tread wear on both sides of the tire, compared to over inflated tires which have more wear down the centre of the tire. Properly inflated tires will give you better traction, plus help your tires last longer.

Woman_checking_tire_pressure-iStock_000020917541-sSpeaking of tire inflation, it’s important to ensure the tire pressure is where it should be. Many people use the pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire. Not so. To find what the proper tire pressure should be for each tire for your vehicle, look on the inside door jamb on the driver’s door. Rarely is it the maximum pressure printed on the tire.

Your vehicle has a variety of filters that help the vehicle run smoothly. Most of these are easy to change yourself. Checking your owner’s manual is a good place to find the location of the filters. Once you know where the filters are located and which type you need, head off to the local automotive store to get what you need. Remember to ask a service person for help so you purchase the proper filter.

Woman_mechanic_do_it_yourself_car_maintenance-iStock_000028903088_SmallTail lights and headlights never seem to burn out at the same time. With this in mind, keep spare bulbs in your vehicle so you can do a quick change no matter where you are. Again, the owner’s manual can be a good guide to help you change it if you’ve never done that before and most bulbs are easy to change. Since our society has self-serve gas stations, no one will check the fluids of your vehicle if you don’t. Take the time to check the fluids before the danger level is reached.

These are only a few things you can do yourself  to save money and in most cases, you won’t even get your hands dirty. Sounds like a win-win to me.


Scott_Marshall_headshotBy Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada and started in road safety in 1988.  He was a judge during the first three seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper in 2005.  Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines, and various websites. You can visit Scott’s blog at



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