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Savvy Car Care Practices

Spend Now, Save Later: Savvy Car Care Practices

So what if my service light has been on for the past month? If the car is still running, everything is okay. Right?

Wrong. A small issue can turn into a larger and potentially costly issue if you wait too long to address it. Avoid pricey repairs down the road by investing in the following services:

Invest in new, quality tires. Used tires can seem like a bargain, but they're a risky purchase. You don't know where they've been, how many times they've been plugged, or what type of weather they've encountered. New tires are your safest bet, especially if you live in a region that experiences a lot of rain, snow, or ice.

If buying new tires isn't financially possible at the moment, you might consider a rent-to-own option. Be cautious, though. You could end up spending more money renting the tires than if you saved up and paid for them outright.

The Tire Industry Association recommends buying two tires and installing them on the rear, if you're unable to purchase four new tires at one time. Vehicle stability is improved when the tires with the best tread are installed on the rear.

Take care of those tires. Goodyear suggests that you rotate your tires every 3,000 to 6,000 miles. Tires wear differently depending on the type of vehicle you drive, the condition of your suspension, and your driving style. Your car's owner's manual should tell you how frequently to rotate your tires, but it's good to get in the routine of rotating them every time you change your oil. Regularly rotating your tires maximizes the traction of your vehicle by spreading out the wear.

Change your oil every 3,000 - 5,000 miles. The oil in your car is like the blood in your veins; it keeps all of your systems running smoothly. Oil lubricates the metal parts in your engine and keeps them from scraping against each other. The older your oil, the more wear and tear the engine could experience.

Replacing an engine and all of the parts that go with it could run you around $3,000, according to The Car Connection. It's much more cost effective to invest in an inexpensive oil change every few months than to replace an entire engine, let alone buy a new vehicle.

Change your air filter every 12,000 miles. This is one of the easiest and least expensive maintenance procedures you can do for your car. Having a clean air filter improves the efficiency of your engine and could improve your gas mileage. You can visually check to see if it needs to be replaced, or refer to your owner's manual to see how often the manufacturer suggests it be replaced. Air filters only cost around $15, can be found at many large retailers (like Wal-Mart) and only take about ten minutes to install.

When in doubt, refer to your owner's manual. It will include a list of suggested check-ups and major milestones at which your car should be looked over by an automotive expert. Taking the time to perform little services here and there will prevent you from shelling out big bucks down the road. So spend now and save later.

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