MOST of us are always looking for ways to save a few ringgit here and there. After all, a ringgit saved is a ringgit earned.

Still, looking after your pride and joy sometimes costs us a pretty penny (sen). Some of us with DIY skills are able to avoid labour costs, but the main point of this article is to avoid mistaking penny-pinching as a means to save a few ringgit. The consequences could mean a bigger repair bill in the future.

Neglecting to change oil and filters

Ignoring oil and filter changes can mean disaster for your engine. While it is permissible to skip a filter change every other oil change, a fresh filter every time is a better option. Neglecting to change the oil and filter periodically will increase contaminants and shorten the engine life. In the worst-case scenario, it could mean an engine replacement. Topping up once in a while simply will not do.

Ask for your old parts back

Unfortunately, there are some unethical mechanics who may try to charge you for work not done and it could end up costing you in the long run. Asking for your parts back will help ensure that the mechanic has done the repair. If possible, be there while the mechanic is doing work on your car.

Communicate with your mechanic

It is easier for the mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem if you can communicate the symptoms you experience. Note exactly when the symptoms occur (while braking or while at a certain speed), and share this with your mechanic. The approximate location, frequency of the symptoms and if any repairs were done on the vehicle recently will also be helpful.

Driving on worn or under inflated tyres

Being aware of the condition of your tyres can save you a significant amount of money. Proper inflation and checks can extend the life of your tyres. Keeping your tyres inflated to the proper pressure can improve your fuel mileage considerably. Worn tyres, on the other hand, can lead to expensive damage to other components of your car or even lead to an accident.

Failure to listen to your mechanic

A failure to listen to your mechanic could lead to needless repair and more money out of your pocket. An experienced mechanic will know that you need a part fixed or replaced to fix your problem instead of new spark plugs or an engine tune-up. If you tell your mechanic to replace the spark plugs instead of asking him to diagnose the problem, he will do it and charge you for it, leaving you with the problem unresolved and a further bill down the road.

Neglecting simple repairs you can do yourself

Some of the easiest car maintenance you can do yourself include replacing your wiper blades, replacing a light bulb, even replacing a fuse and an air filter. There are plenty of online resources that show you exactly how to do it. This will save you some money and also may encourage you to try more difficult maintenance procedures.

Ignoring symptoms

Paying attention to your car can help you identify a major problem, avoid potentially serious safety issues and can help you save a lot of money. Many times a problem with a simple fix, simply ignored, could result in a more complex and expensive issue.

Driving on empty

Back in the day when cars had carburettors, you could drive them till the tank was dry and drive again with no problem after refuelling. However, most fuel-injected engines rely on in-tank electric pumps that use the fuel to cool and lubricate their internal components. Driving your fuel-injected engine frequently on fumes could lead to pump failure, leading to a very costly repair.

Shade tree mechanics

The dealership service centre can make sense for recalls, warranty work or very complex repair issues. For many other jobs, however, finding a cheaper shade tree mechanic will save you a lot of money. There is no need to go to the dealership for a simple oil and filter change, especially after the warranty period expires.

Comparing shops and quotes

When it comes to a major auto repair, get a second opinion. It pays to shop around. Comparing shops and prices can also help you avoid being charged for unnecessary repairs. Go online to research the method and extent of repair, and by all means get several quotes over the phone.

It is possible to save money while maintaining your car perfectly. A final word on saving money on maintenance: Please use original parts. Pattern parts do not save you money in the long run.

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