In these tough financial times, a monthly car payment simply isn’t an option for some households to manage. Rather than struggling with the risk, inconvenience, and maintenance costs of driving a clunker, public transportation or carpooling have become tantalizing options for those less fiscally able. But when your commute is too far out of the way or too long to consider biking to taking public transportation, going without a car simply isn’t an option. The necessity for making car payments is one of the nation’s leading contributors to debt.
However, keeping your car running isn’t necessarily about cost as much as it is attentiveness and caution. While all of us are familiar with mechanic sticker shock, most common automotive failures are due to negligence to perform basic maintenance. To make sure you’re able to make ends meet with your clunker, here are some easy ways to reduce your overall maintenance costs. In addition to considering your debt settlement options, these easy routines can be your fast track to keeping your ride going without throwing more debt into your situation.
Pick a cheaper car to maintain
Vehicles come in all shapes in sizes, and every factor could influence how deep out of pocket you are when something goes wrong. From gas mileage to repair costs, the make and model of your car can make a world of difference for your budget. Generally speaking, smaller vehicles are much more inexpensive to keep going. For the medium sized family with moderate travelling needs, compact SUVs such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and Chevrolet Aveo top Consumer Report’s findings when it comes to affordable family cars to maintain.
Get to know your car and provide some regular TLC
While not everyone is cut out to be a mechanic, everyone should know just enough to perform regular checks necessary to keep your car in function. What might take five minutes out of your schedule can prevent a $500 repair tomorrow, so if you’re not already familiar with the basic ins-and-outs of automotive repair, check out the DMV’s guide. This covers basic visual checks, along with how to measure things such as oil and tire pressure.
Know how to inspect a used car before purchasing to prevent an automotive or financial disaster
If you’re in dire financial straits, you might find yourself shying away from newer models in order to seek out used vehicles in decent shape. This can be a smart idea, considering that even minor aesthetic wear and very little use can drastically impact the overall worth of a vehicle. You can immediately tell if something is wrong by looking for the following:
Telltale rust spots, indentions, or scratches on the exterior and under the hood
Examine all hoses and belts for cracks
Make sure that the air conditioner works adequately on all settings
Make sure that the car sits evenly. Never purchase a vehicle with a busted frame!
Test drive the car thoroughly – in multiple conditions if at all possible
Request a complete car service history, and consider bringing a mechanic to make sure everything checks out.
With these simple maintenance tips in mind, you might find that stretching the lifespan on your rust-bucket can help you out tremendously when it comes to balancing your budget. And, if all else fails, it can’t hurt to know how to finance a new care for when your credit is bad.