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Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in Automotive | 0 comments

How Scheduled Car Maintenance Can Ultimately Save You Money


Keeping on top of your vehicle maintenance will cost some money upfront. However, this investment can pay big dividends down the road, especially when you go to sell or trade-in your vehicle. Discover how people will know if your car has been well-maintained and the impact this will have on the value in a private sale or trade-in situation at a dealership. We’ll also outline several ways to keep track of the services due on your vehicle and how to cut costs on these important tasks.

Know the Value of a Well-Maintained Automobile
There’s no question that the condition of the automobile plays a large role in its value. However, what many people don’t realize is that there have been new developments in the tools used to evaluate an automobile.

In the past, buyers and sellers would simply state the condition of a vehicle as poor, fair, good or excellent. Although these levels are still utilized in pricing guides, vehicle history reports now include documented maintenance and the mileage at which these services occurred. This paper trail paints a picture of how well the automobile was cared for. These results are calculated into a value-based report. The documents are available online to consumers as well as dealerships. Both buyers and sellers should use this information in the negotiation process.

Keep Track of Paperwork
To put yourself in the best position for a sale or trade-in, keep track of your car history paperwork. When you bring home that new or used vehicle, the first thing you need to do is create a dedicated folder for it. There’s a lot of paperwork associated with the purchase of an automobile, and this belongs in your folder. As time moves on you will collect receipts for motor vehicle records, warranty repairs, completed recalls, maintenance services, parts and accessory purchases, cleaning supplies and detail services. All of these things will go in your folder.

Few sellers have a rock-solid, organized history starting with the date of purchase, but now you will. If you sell the automobile to a private party, you’ll be able to instill a level of confidence that your competition will not. Even if you decide to trade the vehicle at a dealership, they will have to consider these records into the value of the trade.

Stay on Top of Vehicle Maintenance
The first place to look for required maintenance is the owner’s manual. I know this sounds obvious, but very few people actually read the most important document that comes with a car. Some manufacturers do an excellent job of providing detailed information in their maintenance section. Take advantage of this by studying the information and becoming an expert on what’s due on your specific automobile. Take this a step further by learning what types of fluids it uses and their capacities.

Now that we are in the age of the Internet of Everything, some car manufacturers and app developers have released apps to help us track vehicle maintenance, provide recommendations, pay bills and get advice from the car community. Large fleet companies have been taking advantage of these kinds of software programs for decades. Now we can use the same powerful tools. Finally, if you’re in a used car situation and don’t have access to the original owner’s manual, it’s easy to get one. You can order these important books at the dealership’s parts department, but they’re often available for free online in PDF format.

Save Money on Vehicle Maintenance
Of course the obvious way to save money on vehicle maintenance is to perform it yourself. Although the automobile has become a complicated piece of machinery, changing wiper blades, cabin filters and engine air filters remains a relatively basic operation on most automobiles. For those ready, willing and able to get their hands dirty, big savings is the payoff. As an example, an air filter at a dealership can cost $25-$50. At retail automotive part stores most air filters fall into the $10-$15 price range.

When shopping for parts, take advantage of the fact that the competition is fierce between these well-established auto-parts franchises to save even more money. All of the major stores offer price matching and reward type programs. Surrendering your email is a small price to pay for coupons that save you $5-$20 off in-store purchases. When you sign up for the rewards programs you may also receive a monthly sales flyer that can provide even more savings on things you’ll need anyway.

Not everyone who wants to save money falls into the category of a do-it-yourselfer. Fortunately, there’s an opportunity for both groups to save money on car maintenance. Whether you check your vehicle in for service at a new car dealership, private repair facility or a retail automotive service center, all of these organizations also want your email address. In the same way that the parts store uses a rewards program, these businesses provide regular discounts and monthly specials to keep customers coming back.

Finally, while maintaining your car is essential in keeping up its value, make sure you’re only performing recommended or required services. Many quick lube oil change businesses rely on up-selling additional services during an oil change to actually turn a profit. However, modern automobiles often have extended life fluids and maintenance items that don’t need replacement for 100,000 miles. One of the biggest ways to save money is to not buy what you don’t need.

Mark Gittelman is a retired ASE master technician who fuels his passion for cars as a writer for CARFAX , sharing his knowledge with the vehicle savvy and the vehicle illiterate alike.

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