Maintaining a vehicle can be costly, so why pay any more than you actually need to? These 6 suggestions can help savvy auto owners get the most from their maintenance budgets.
1. Look for a detailer certificate
Detailing a car is just like any other professional service — some people are good at it, some aren’t. How do you find a car detailer who’s going to get into every crack and crevice to get your auto looking like new?
- Look for one licensed from a car detailing training facility
- While there’s no “official” master detailer designation (in other words, it’s an unregulated industry) detailers who take the time to go through a certification program are probably better equipped to do a top-notch detail job
2. Skip spray-on wax at the car wash
A few more bucks for a hot wax job (or maybe they call it triple foam, or a sealant, or whatever) at the local car wash seems like such a deal. Does it make your car look better? Absolutely.
Problem is, the shine (and additional protection) diminishes after about a week. A better idea would be to save the extra few bucks that the wax costs, and spring for one of those “express” wax jobs most car washes offer. They cost about $30, but they will give you longer-lasting protection.
3. Catch the wax on the rebound
Carwash owners certainly aren’t going to tell you this, but you’ll get the hot wax treatment for free at most car washes.
How? Prentice St. Clair, president of Detail in Progress, an automotive detailing company in San Diego, says that if your car wash recycles its water — just ask, and you’ll find most do — then the spray-on wax that gets applied during other people’s car washes will stay in the water supply and will get transferred onto your car. Just another reason to find an environmentally friendly car wash!
4. Ignore that tire “dent” warning
- If a tire salesman points out dents in the sidewalls of your tires, don’t worry — he is just looking to make a quick buck
- An unscrupulous tire dealer will tell you these dents are a problem and you need new tires, but in fact, these little concave depressions are more than normal
- And they’re not really dents — they’re where the tire’s poly cords are joined together
- On the other hand, if you have a tire bulge — a convex lump that’s a sign of an impending blowout — that’s when it’s time to consider forking over the dough for some new tires
5. Put your mechanic behind the wheel
Something in the front of your car is squeaking. So you take it to an auto repair shop, you tell them about the squeak, and they throw the car up on the lift. Twenty minutes later, they’re telling you that you need pricey new brakes and brake pads. How do they know this if they haven’t taken the car for a test drive?
One auto service manager we asked says you should get that car off the lift and take it to a different repair shop. A mechanic typically needs to take a car for a spin to diagnose big problems; those that don’t are just selling you the most expensive fix to what could be a much smaller problem.
6. Beware shock absorber shenanigans
Many an unscrupulous mechanic has sprayed oil on a customer’s shock absorbers, causing them to appear to be leaking oil. So if your mechanic delivers that kind of grim news to you, take your car to another mechanic for a second — and even third — opinion.
Pricier repairs may come up during the life of your vehicle, but for basic cleaning and maintenance these six tips can help save you a little money and a lot of hassle.