Check up: Your car warranty may not be valid if regular maintenance was not done by a reputable repair shop. *MCT photo
Check up: Your car warranty may not be valid if regular maintenance was not done by a reputable repair shop. *MCT photo

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16: In a tough economy like we have seen in recent years, people can be forced to rethink their spending. Owning a vehicle is one of our most significant expenses and it is often tempting to skip regular maintenance in an effort to reduce costs.

But while there are many smart ways to save money, skimping on car maintenance is not one of them. In fact, proper maintenance on your vehicle will save money: in the long term your car will run longer and have a better resale value, and even in the short term spending a bit on maintenance results in less spent on fuel and repairs.

Ben Franklin said it best: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The cost of maintenance doesn’t have to be a burden. Some simple jobs can be done at home, and with planning and a budget a year of regular maintenance is affordable and easy.

Where to start?

The best place to start is with your owner’s manual. This will list information about key preventative maintenance requirements. Go through the manual and map out maintenance requirements for the year.

For vehicles still under warranty, understand the terms of your warranty. The warranty might not be valid if regular maintenance has not been done by a reputable service shop. Be sure to adhere to what is required from you in terms of maintenance to get the most out of your warranty.

Once you know what is required, you can put together a plan. Call your service shop to get estimates and put it into a budget. Don’t forget to include fuel, insurance, licencing and other annual costs so you have a good idea of overall vehicle costs.

And while you have the service shop on the phone, book all appointments for the year. Having them on the calendar for the year means you won’t forget or put them off.

DIY

There are some regular maintenance jobs that are simple to do at home. Depending on your comfort level, you can do a variety of things from changing the wiper blades to changing the oil, but a few basic jobs can be done by anyone.

You can easily check and top up fluids yourself. Fluids checks can include oil, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid and brake fluid.

Tyres are an important safety component of your car and regular checks are important. Tyres that are over-inflated can cause premature wear, and under-inflated tyres noticeably decrease fuel economy, which costs you money. Once a month check the tread for cracks and wear and tear, and check the tyre pressure when the tyres are cool. Your owner’s manual will tell you the proper tyre pressure for your vehicle.

The air filter, wiper blades and headlights can also be easy to change if you follow manufacturers’ instructions.

Leave the rest for the professionals

Studies by car manufacturers, auto clubs and other experts consistently show that regular routine maintenance on your car saves money in the long run. We see it all the time; vehicles that have not received regular maintenance end up in our shop for major, costly repairs. Most regular maintenance jobs are inexpensive and require only a short time in the shop.

With an annual plan and budget in place, these will simply become routine and in the end leave a bit more money in your pocket.

• For more information on automotive maintenance, contact Krishna King at Bermuda Motors: 292-0893 or KKing@bermudamotors.bm. Krishna has more than 20 years’ experience in the automotive industry, and chairs the Automotive Occupational Advisory Committee for the National Training Board. www.bermudamotors.bm.