For most people, transportation is one of the largest monthly expenses.  According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle in 2017 is $8,469/year.  That’s a huge chunk of cash but there are some ways to keep your car rolling for less.

Use the recommended grade of gas

Many drivers make the mistake of using a higher grade of gas than their car actually needs.  That’s an extra 20 to 40 cents per gallon you’re throwing down the drain.  You can easily save at the pump by using the grade recommended in your owner’s manual.  To find the best prices in your area, we suggest using a gas app like GasBuddy.  Just type in your zip code, select your fuel type and they’ll show you the lowest prices in your area.

Don’t change the oil more than necessary

Back in the day, oil changes were required every 3,000 miles but that’s no longer the case.  Newer vehicles can go 5,000 to 7,500 miles between oil changes.  Do a quick search to find out what’s right for your vehicle and stick to the suggested schedule.  Another way to save money is to look for coupons.  Shops like Pep Boys and Jiffy Lube offer special discounts for oil changes and certain services.  All you’ll need to do is download the coupon from their website and present it when you bring your car to get serviced.

Keep your tires properly inflated

Riding around with under-inflated tires will cause them to wear out faster and burn more gas.  Therefore, it’s important to monitor your tire pressure every month.  This can easily be done using a digital tire gauge.  Just remove the caps from the tires air valves and press the gauge down quickly to get a reading.  Compare the PSI to the number recommended on your tire information placard.  If it’s higher than suggested, let out some air.  If the tire pressure is low, fill it with air until you reach the correct level.  To get the most accurate results, check your tires before the car has been driven for the day.

Clean your battery

One of the most common reasons car batteries die is because of corrosion.  Therefore, it’s important to keep the terminals and connections clean.  If you pop your hood and see your battery covered in corrosion, don’t panic.  This is an issue you can easily handle without the help of a mechanic.  Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with an equal amount of water to make a paste.  Then use a toothbrush to apply the mixture.  Bubbles and foam means the solution is working.  Brush off the residue then rinse with water and dry it off.  Rub a little petroleum jelly on the posts to prevent future corrosion.  Keep in mind, your typical car battery only lasts 3-5 years depending on the climate.

Research repair costs

At some point, something’s bound to go wrong with your vehicle.  Avoid getting ripped off at the mechanic by using a site like Repair Pal for a fair price estimate.  Just tell about your vehicle, select your service and they’ll provide a cost range for your repair.  This will ensure that you don’t overpay.

Perform routine maintenance

The key to keeping your car running its best is to perform routine maintenance.  Every car has its own rules so you’ll need to read your owner’s manual to see which services you’ll need and when.  Here’s a general guideline as suggested by the Car Care Council.

Check monthly

  • Dashboard indicator light on
  • Exterior lights
  • Tire inflation and condition
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Engine oil level

Check every 3 months or 3,000 miles

  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Battery and cables
  • Belts
  • Dashboard indicator light on
  • Engine air filter
  • Engine oil and filter
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power steering fluid
  • Tire inflation and condition
  • Windshield washer fluid

Check every 6 months or 6,000 miles

  • Automatic transmission Fluid
  • Battery and cables
  • Belts
  • Chassis lubrication
  • Dashboard indicator light on
  • Engine air filter
  • Engine oil and filter
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power steering fluid
  • Tire inflation and condition
  • Windshield washer Fluid
  • Wiper blades

 Check every 9 months or 9,000 miles

  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Battery and cables
  • Belts
  • Dashboard indicator light on
  • Engine air filter
  • Engine oil and filter
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power steering fluid
  • Tire inflation and condition
  • Windshield washer fluid

 Check every 12 months or 12,000 miles

  • Automatic transmission Fluid
  • Battery and cables
  • Belts
  • Brakes
  • Cabin air filter
  • Chassis lubrication
  • Dashboard indicator light on
  • Coolant (antifreeze)
  • Engine air filter
  • Engine oil and filter
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power steering fluid
  • Steering and suspension
  • Tire inflation and condition
  • Wheel alignment
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Wiper blades