Save money by avoiding these Car Maintenance Mistakes

Compared to the automobiles of just one or two generations ago, today’s modern car needs about as much maintenance as a vacuum cleaner. The problem is, most people still haven’t gotten used to that fact and either continue to ignore their car completely or totally overdo it with maintenance that isn’t necessary anymore.

The simple fact is that the answer to most maintenance questions are actually found in the owner’s manual that comes with every automobile.  If you haven’t taken the time to read yours (and you really should), today’s blog will give you some good tips about avoiding car maintenance mistakes and saving money on your ride. Enjoy.

Tip 1: Taking care of your tires.

One of the easiest, and most overlooked, car maintenance tasks that can easily be accomplished by the average driver is simply to make sure that their car’s tires are always inflated correctly, and that they are rotated regularly. Underinflated tires waste gasoline and both under and overinflated tires wear out sooner. If you have five minutes, checking your tires once or twice a month to make sure they are inflated properly, and having them rotated every six months, is the best way to save gas and replace your tires less frequently.

Tip 2: Wiper blades.

Most people completely ignore their wiper blades, even if they are old, worn-out, damaged and aren’t doing much of a job. Of course, that all becomes much more important when it starts to rain, sleet or snow. Your best bet is to have them checked every time you have your oil changed and, if needed, get them replaced. You really should only need to do this about once every two years anyway.

Tip 3: Tuning up your car.

Today’s new cars are incredibly high-tech and no longer have things like carburetors that need to be adjusted regularly. In fact, most parts can go for 100,000 miles without a problem, so spending money on “tune-ups” is really a waste. Instead you should save your money for the big 60,000 and 100,000 mile checkups to make sure that things like or plug wires, timing belts and so forth are in good shape.

Tip 4: Gasoline grades.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again; unless you have a very high-end luxury or sports car, there is almost no need for “super” gasoline. “Regular” will suffice and save you nearly 30% every time you fill up your tank.

 Tip 5: Changing the oil.

It used to be that a car’s oil needed to be changed about every 3000 miles but today’s new cars can go quite a bit further between oil changes. In fact, some can actually go up to 15,000 miles! Follow the recommendations of your car’s handbook and your trusted auto shop to be sure you are not overdoing it with the oil changes.

 Tip 6: Replacing the air filter.

Unless you live in an arid, dusty area of the country like Nevada or Arizona, your air filter can run for years without the need to be replaced. This is something that your mechanic can check when you have your oil changed and, even though a dirty air filter will definitely decrease your MPG, you probably won’t need to replace yours more than two or three times (at most) during your car’s life.

Tip 7: Don’t ignore your brakes.

Simply put, if your brakes sound, feel or respond differently than you’re used to, ask your mechanic to check them out immediately.

Tip 8: Use your garage  to protect your car.

Our final tip is simply this; a car that is kept inside a garage will look better and last much longer than one kept outside. If you have the luxury of a garage but you are not using it because there’s so much junk that your car can’t fit inside, you’re really doing your automobile a disfavor.

When it comes to your car, when is it time to sell rather than get it repaired?

If there’s one thing that can cause a person to become fired up with emotions it’s the thought of buying a new car. On one side there is the fact that a new car is quite the status symbol as well as the fact that it smells nice, looks great and comes with all sorts of new features. (A brand-new warranty isn’t a bad thing either.) On the other side there is the fact that, once you sign that car loan payment paperwork, you are basically agreeing to make some pretty big payments for the next 4, 5 or even 6 years of your life.

Depending on the car that you’re driving now, and your financial ability to pay for a new one, the choice might be quite cut and dried. On the other hand, if what you’re driving right now is still running relatively well, as well as being paid off, the choice of whether to purchase a new car might be a little more difficult. To help you make the decision, we’ve put together a little bit of advice that hopefully will help you. Enjoy.

One of the first bits of information you need to know before you make a decision to purchase a new car is simply this; how long does a car usually last? Today’s modern cars (anything made in the last 15 years) have been engineered to last up to 250,000 miles. What that means is that if your car is 9 years old and has 125,000 miles on it, it probably isn’t past it’s prime by any means. On the other hand, while the major systems in your car might last that long, some of the smaller parts like fuel pumps, timing belts and other things will eventually need to be replaced. Even worse, they might “give out” while you’re on the road, something that can mean a very costly tow-truck bill to your mechanic’s shop.

If you have the financial means to do it and you’re not willing to take the risk that your car is not going to get you from point A to point B, getting a new car might be in your best interest. On the other hand, if you’re not in the position to make big payments every month and your car is already paid off, keeping it well-maintained is probably your best bet.

If your car is starting to get older but is still holding up relatively well, now might be the best time to start preparing to purchase another car. Putting aside the money and making sure that your ability to get a new loan is high are two things you should be focusing on so that, when the time comes, you’ll be ready to sit down at the negotiating table at your local car dealership. Checking your credit report is a good idea at this time to make sure that you can get the best financial terms available. It’s also a good idea to get any maintenance on your car taken care of that’s relatively inexpensive so that, when you take it to trade or sell, it “shows well”.

For some people the fact of the matter is that the car they’re now driving may still be running well and have plenty of years left on it but might not be the car that’s right for their situation. If it’s either too big and wasting lots of fuel or too small for your large family, getting a new car to replace it might either save you money or make long trips with the family more enjoyable. Of course if your current car is unreliable and prone to frequent breakdowns, getting it replaced is probably the best thing you can do so that you don’t miss work or miss out on other opportunities because your car can’t get you there.

At the end of the day, it makes a lot of financial sense to hold onto a car that is running well and doesn’t have a huge amount of miles on it. As long as you keep up on maintenance and don’t drive it too hard, the savings that you will reap could be substantial. Remember that a new car means a new car payment and also that a car is not an investment but an expense. Keeping those things in mind should help you to finalize your decision. Good luck, and good driving!

Avoid these ‘Fuel Saving’ Devices that simply Don’t Work

The key to making any story about a product work (i.e. convert consumers into buyers) is that the story must be as believable as possible. When it comes to devices that claim to save you money on fuel it’s no different. Many of the devices on the market today lay claim to some “overlooked” factor that car manufacturers or gas producers “don’t want you to know about”, something that’s usually small and which should they claim to have figured out how to exploit.

The 5 products that you’ll find below promise to increase your gas mileage and thus lower the sting of filling up your tank. All of them were recently tested by a nationally known testing service and were found to provide practically no advantage whatsoever when it came to fuel economy. Basically, if you fall for their story you’re going to be wasting your money and, since we don’t want that to happen, we’ve put together this blog to expose all 5. Enjoy.

  1. MOLETECH FUEL SAVER. The claim that  this manufacturer makes is that their device is a “fuel enrichment system” that changes the molecular aggregation of your car’s fuel from larger clusters to smaller ones. By doing this it supposedly will help expose a larger fuel surface area that will allow more contact with oxygen and better combustion for better fuel efficiency. The device consists of a small cylinder for the fuel tank, the air cleaner and the coolant line and all three need to be “activated” by revving your engine for a few moments. The result? Fuel wasted and noise made revving your engine, but not much more.
  2. DYNAMIC IONIZER. We actually can’t say if this product worked or not because it never arrived. Company claims on their website tell you that the Dynamic Ionizer simply needs to be placed into your car’s fuel tank or its air filter and that the pellets therein will act as a “molecular ionizer” on either the fuel or the air. What it’s supposed to do after that is “agitate” the fuel or the air at a molecular level. In fact all it actually did was agitate us and we’d advise staying far away from its agitation sound.
  3. FUEL DOCTOR FD-47. This device is meant to plug into the socket of your cigarette lighter and increase your car’s mileage through a process of “power conditioning its electrical systems”. This “conditioned power” then supposedly will help your cars ECU, timing equipment and fuel injection to operate better. With the Fuel Doctor we actually saw a very slight improvement but nothing near the 25% that the manufacturer promises on their packaging. Further inspection of the device revealed a simple LED light circuit board and nothing more. If you think that this will actually help your car, you may just need a doctor… of psychology
  4. HOT INAZMA ECO. When it comes to credible stories this one really seems like a good one. The manufacturer refers to the fact that your cars electrical voltage will drop when you’re using many electrical components and accelerate at the same time (which is actually true). What they say that their product does is store some electricity so that, when you accelerate, there’s a little bit extra to power your electoral system. Sounds good, doesn’t it? We didn’t think so either so we took apart the device and found a number of capacitors and it that, more than likely, are doing absolutely nothing but wasting your money. Modern cars simply don’t need electrical help.
  5. FUEL BOSS MAGNETIC FUEL SAVER. This manufacturer claims on their packaging that “fuel clusters” in your gas tank don’t allow your fuel to mix correctly with oxygen and provide good combustion. The device, which consists of magnets that create a magnetic field to supposedly “break up” these clusters, is probably one of the most useless that we’ve seen. Even more useless is there “ultra-heavy duty” version but we’d recommend that, rather than use magnets in your fuel system, you’d be better off wearing one on your wrist to keep you calm.

Unfortunately all 5 of these products are selling quite well these days because gas prices have gone up so high and people are looking for anything that they can use to increase their mileage and decrease their fuel costs. The fact is, there are practically no aftermarket products for sale that will do much more than waste your money. Indeed, if there were gadgets or gizmos that could seriously increase your mileage, car manufacturers would have already been started putting them into their vehicles.

Our advice is to take care of your car, drive as well as you can, keep your tires inflated and avoid speeding. These activities will help you to save much more gas than any of the products we took a look at today.

Carnivals n’ More – September 8th

This week Daily Fuel Economy Tip was featured in the following carnivals:
Carnival of MoneyPros hosted by Rather Be Shopping
Yakezie Carnival hosted by Frugal Rules
Finance Carnival For Young Adults hosted by Mom And Dad Money


Now it’s our turn to share a little link love to the blogosphere…

ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT!  Squirrelers reminds us why this is so important…take a deep breath and slow down…don’t rush into things blindly.

It might not seem like a new topic, but his advice is sound, and food and money are an everyday part of our lives…learn how to save and eat well.  Thanks My Personal Finance Journey.

Learn how to manage your student loan payment here at the College Investor…ughhh how I wish I didn’t have to deal with this.

The Best Cars for Saving Money 2013

Cars are among the most expensive necessities in our modern world. With the high cost of insurance, pricey repairs and steep car payments, owning a car is a privilege that takes work, dedication and lots of money. Over the last decade, Americans saw the average price of gas in the United States rise over $2 a gallon, from $1.75 to over $4.00 in many places, making the cost of driving even more expensive than ever. New car sales have fallen in favor of used cars, driving the price of used cars over the Kelly Blue Book value. For those with the resources to purchase a new car, however, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Many cars are now hybrids or electric, reducing the cost of gas dramatically and car companies are reducing prices in order to draw in shoppers. Here are some of the top money saving cars for 2013.

2013 Toyota Prius

Toyota is known for making reputable, long-lasting cars but few cars have received the hype the Prius can boast. Debuting as a mid-size sedan in 2003 as the first major hybrid vehicle on the road, the Prius has been a smashing success for a decade. With an EPA designation as one of the cleanest cars on the road, an average MPG of 48 city and 51 highway and a starting price tag of $24,200, the Prius is one of the best money saving cars in existence. Additionally, the Prius also qualifies for the governments fuel efficiency incentives programs.

2013 Honda Civic

Same with Toyota, Honda is known for producing long-lasting vehicles and the Civic is one of the best loved compact cars on the road with over 20 million models sold. With an initial price tag of only $18,165 and a combined MPG of 35, Honda offers a safe, inexpensive and money saving car in the Civic.

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Although Ford has had a tenuous reputation over the years, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid has found extraordinary success in the first half of the year. The Fusion Hybrid boasts a combined 47 MPG and provides a smooth, high tech ride to its drivers. Like the Prius, the Fusion qualifies for government incentives for its willing buyers.

2013 Toyota Rav4 EV

For drivers seeking a fuel efficient SUV that can save money, the Rav4 EV is the clear choice. The first all electric SUV on the market, the Rav4 uses no gas in its operations, allowing drivers to save hundreds each month on fuel costs alone. With a steep starting price tag of close to $50,000 the Rav4 EV requires an initial investment that will easily pay out down the road.

When looking to save money on the purchase of a car, drivers must remember the contributing factors to auto costs, such as gas mileage, repair costs and insurance rates. For example, newer, more reliable cars are cheaper to insure while luxury cars and gas guzzlers can be more costly. There are many secrets to lowering insurance costs, something you can discuss with an agent or representative. Regardless of your personal car preferences, some cars are less expensive to insure, less likely to break down and far more fuel efficient than others. Purchasing a Honda Civic, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Prius, or Toyota Rav4 EV will allow you to keep your costs down while enjoying the ownership of one of the best and most high tech vehicles on the road today.



Fuel Saving Tips to beat the Gas Crunch Part 2 of 4

Hello and welcome back for Part 2 of our 4-Part fuel saving tips to beat the gas crunch blog series. We’ve got an absolute ton of tips and advice for saving gas that were going to give to you today so, without further ado, let’s get started. Enjoy.

Filter out of kilter. A dirty air filter can actually decrease your mileage by 1 to 2 miles per gallon. Cleaning your air filter or replacing it will thus save you money on gas almost immediately. In most cars that have a replaceable air filter you can also do this yourself quite easily and save the cost to have it done by a professional.

Red light district. When driving through a neighborhood with many lights it would be best to time them so that, rather than having to stop at many red lights, you can cruise through green lights and not have to accelerate and decelerate as often. In most cases this entails driving a little bit slower and looking ahead to the lights as they’re coming so that you know what they’re going to be (red or green), more or less, once you get there.

Turn on your gas savings. Many people have the habit of slowing down completely, almost to a stop, in order to go through a turn. While we’re not saying that you should speed dangerously through turns, you can definitely roll through a turn at a little bit higher speed so that you’re not forced to use more gas to accelerate back up to speed once you’ve gone through the turn. Remember that the more you brake, the more gas you will use to speed back up afterwards.

Beat the heat. In winter the first thing that most people do is turn on their cars heat and defroster. While this may seemingly warm up the car faster it actually causes the engine to take longer to heat up to its most fuel efficient temperature. Better to use your cars heated seats (if it has them, of course) and, after about 10 minutes of driving, then turn on the heat and the defroster. If the windshield is heavily frosted you should use an ice scraper first to make sure that you have a clear view of the road.

You can drive 55. At 55 mph most cars are running at their maximum efficiency. Between 55 and 65 you might still be okay but anything over 65 will definitely cost you more gas per mile so, unless you’re really pressed for time, keep your speed and 55 and save money on gas.

Is it drafty in here. Drafting, or following behind a larger vehicle and taking advantage of the aerodynamic wind tunnel that they create, is a great way to save fuel if you do it correctly and safely. If you can use cruise control and stay within a distance that will allow you to brake safely if needed, drafting behind a large truck on the highway can actually save you up to 5% of your fuel. This is best done on long, straight and flat stretches of highway.

It’s bad at the top. Although filling up your tank might save you a little extra time because you won’t have to go back to the gas station as often, the extra weight can actually decrease your gas mileage. Not only that but many people overfill their tanks and actually lose gas from spillage. Better to fill your tank about two thirds full and make an extra trip or two to the gas station. You’ll use less gas and waste less gas.

Sneaky AC. In many new cars when you activate the defrost or ‘defroster + feet’ setting on your heater the air-conditioning will also be activated so that the defrosting or defogging of your windshield will be quicker. What won’t happen is that the AC indicator light won’t go on and, while you’re not aware of it, you’ll be using your AC and wasting gas. Of course, having your windshield completely defrosted is an important and safe thing to do but, knowing that the AC is being used, make sure you turn the defroster off as soon as you can.

Up to speed. Many people make the mistake of waiting until they are almost on the highway before accelerating up to highway speeds. Frankly, the ‘on ramp’ is made specifically for this purpose and so should be used to accelerate, if not completely up to highway speeds, somewhere close so that you don’t have to accelerate much faster to avoid cars that are already at speed on the highway.

Over the hill. If you just climbed a hill and you’re going slower than regular speed (and you don’t have people in a rush behind you) use that hill to cruise back up to speed rather than accelerating to do the same. You’ll save gas and give your engine a little bit of a break.

Patience young padawan. Unless you’re in a complete rush to be somewhere on time (and if you are it’s probably because you left too late) (be honest) being patient and taking your time to get where you need to go is definitely going to save you on gas and also be less stressful. If you’re in stop and go traffic led to the car ahead of you get even further ahead of you so that you can simply cruise rather than having to keep using your break every two minutes.

Well dear readers that it for Part 2. We hope that you’ve learned a few things today and that you can start using some of these tips right away to start saving gas. Will be back soon with part three and more excellent tips and advice for beating the oil companies at their own game. See you then.

Care and Maintenance Tips #8

Welcome back for the 8th and Final Part in our 8 Part series.  We’re so glad you’ve been able to join us and we hope that the Tips we’ve already shared have been helping you and enlightening you to what you can do to keep your car running well, looking good and using as little fuel as possible. Today’s Tips are the last but are just as important so let’s get started!

When you fill your car’s washer fluid tank never use water as this can freeze in winter and damage the entire system. Also, if you’re near the end of the fluid try not to use it until you can fill the reservoir again so that you don’t damage the empty system. If your washer tank is cracked you should replace it or, if you can’t right now due to financial reasons, use a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag in its place until you can.

Cars are tools and meant to carry us, and our stuff, to wherever we wish to go.  That being said you still want to make sure that you don’t overload the car, especially the roof-rack.  If you have to purchase something very heavy like sheet-rock, plywood, or anything else thatyou might first want to consider having it delivered, especially if the cost is reasonable.  It’s safer, it’s insured if they deliver and it won’t stress out your car’s suspension system or engine.

This is the same for towing as a load that is too heavy for your car or truck’s system could very well do some major damage to the drive train and over-tax the engine very heavily.  Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when towing or carrying anything with your vehicle.

Keeping an old blanket or, better still, a moving blanket in the car for when you need to put something on the roof is an excellent idea and will protect the paint from whatever you put up there.

Finally, securing anything that you put on the roof is vitally important for safety and to protect your car. If you’re going to do this regularly you should probably invest in a high-quality roof-rack, trailer hitch-rack or whatever you need for the types of loads that you’ll be taking.

And there you have it.  A multitude of excellent Tips and great advice for maintaining your automobile(s), lowering your maintenance costs, saving fuel and increasing your car’s resale value at trade-in time.  We truly hope that you’ve enjoyed all 8 Parts and wish you the best of luck with all your vehicles. Also we’d like to wish all of our reader’s a Happy New Year and a very prosperous 2013!


Care and Maintenance Tips #7

We’ve explored many ways to keep your car running well and looking good and today’s Tips are more of the same.  Just to reiterate, keeping your car well-maintained will not only reduce your repair costs over the life of the car but will reduce your fuel consumption and thus save you money every time you fill up.  With gas at nearly $4.00 a gallon in most parts of the country using less gas is one of the best ways we know to save money.

Wheel-well splashguards are a very important safety device for your car’s engine and other parts because they keep water, salt, slush, dirt and other damaging gunk away from these vital parts.  They are also quite flimsy so check them regularly and, if they get torn off or damaged, replace them right away.  If you don’t have them on your car and it’s still in good shape you should consider getting them.

Many people skip cleaning their cars in winter because, well, it’s pretty darn cold out there to be fooling around with water. The problem with this is that during the winter, especially if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice, the salt and/or sand that the road crews use to make the roads safer can be very damaging to your car.  Getting this off of your car as soon as you can and on a regular basis is vital to your car’s performance and looks. A well-done, thorough cleaning is important to do at least once a week but, if you can’t afford that and doing it yourself is out of the question, running it through even a cheap car-wash once a week is still better than nothing.

Waxing your car is also vital to its long-term looks and finish. Yes it’s a lot of work but, in the long run, it will keep the resale value higher and also give you a sense of satisfaction and pride that can’t be overrated. If you can afford it you can have this done professionally and experts recommend once a month in winter and once every 6 weeks in summer. If you need to do it yourself get a good brand of wax and follow the instructions.

Washing and cleaning the interior is just as vital and should be done often to make sure that stains don’t form and that dirt and debris don’t accumulate to the point that your car starts to smell unpleasant.

The time and energy that you out into maintaining your car well will most certainly pay off when you go to trade it in or resell it. Yes it’s sometimes a time-consuming pain but it really is worth the trouble.  Also worth the trouble is to come back for the 8th and Final Part of our 8 Part series.  See you soon!


Care and Maintenance Tips #6

Part 6 of our 8 Part Series is all about your car’s tires.  One of the most important parts of your car they should be maintained well and, if done, this maintenance will save you a good deal of money during the life of your car in terms of lowered fuel costs and repair costs as well.

Maintaining your car tire’s proper inflation is vital. Experts recommend checking tire pressure at least once a month and more if you live where it’s always very hot.  Checking tires when they are cold or in the morning is the best time of day to get an accurate reading of the psi.

If you use an air pump at your local gas station check to see that there’s no moisture coming from the pump itself by putting your thumb over it and seeing if it gets wet.  If it does you may want to inform the attendant and then go to another station until the problem is fixed as even a little bit of water inside the tires can cause the rims to corrode and pressure variations that could damage the tires.

If you keep the tire pressure checked but still find that your tires are wearing unevenly you may consider going to get the alignment checked. Uneven wear may also be a sign of bad brakes, shocks or a bent wheel as well as worn bushings or other tire damage.

Driving on bad treads is not only bad for the car but is also quite dangerous.  Most tires these days have ‘wear bars’ that will tell you when it’s time to get them replaced.  A great way to check and see if your tires are still good is to grab a quarter (American, .25 cents) and put it so that President Washington’s head is inserted between the treads.  If part of his head is inside the tread you’re still good but if not the tires should be replaced ASAP.

Rotating the tires regularly is an excellent idea to make sure that they wear evenly and you get the most out of every set.  Experts will tell you that the first rotation is the most important so check your manual or ask the dealer to make sure that you don’t miss it.

If you live in an area of the country where the temperatures go to extremes on a daily basis check your tire pressure more often.  Also, make sure that you always have caps on all 4 of the inflation valves as they can leak if not capped and cause under-inflation problems.

How about those great Tips! Not bad right?!  We hope you like them and use them and, when you’re ready for more, come join us for Part 7!


Care and Maintenance Tips #5

Welcome back!  Part 5 of our 8 Part Car Care and Maintenance series is all about protecting the interior and exterior of your car.  Doing this will not only keep it looking good but, when it’s time to finally trade-in or sell, will increase greatly the amount of money that you can on it and put towards the purchase of your next new car.

If you have leather upholstery you probably paid a lot extra for it so you’ll want to take care of it well.  This means cleaning it regularly and using a leather protectant made for cars to help it resist stains and keep it from cracking and fading later.

Cleaners that you use in your home can be used on regular car upholstery material but be sure to use them sparingly and don’t saturate the fabric. Scotch-guarding the fabric can also be a great idea to help it, like the leather, resist stains and stay better-looking longer and also keep its original texture.

If you have a baby and are using a baby seat in the car you should put a towel under it to ensure that you don’t permanently damage or stain the upholstery. A heavy piece of plastic can do the same thing and both will protect from the inevitable stains that baby will make.

All cars will eventually get nicks, scratches and gouges no matter how well you drive.  These should always be repaired as soon as possible to prevent moisture from seeping in under the paint and causing rust to start forming. Even a small, inconspicuous scratch can be the start of major rust damage so check the car often for these and have a bottle of touch-up paint handy at all times to make the necessary repairs quickly.

If you have a cracked turn-signal cover or a tail-light cover you could be risking major damage to your car’s electrical system. If water were to seep into the light assembly the electrical system could short-out and cost a lot to repair. If you can’t get to a parts store right away use colored duct tape that matches the light cover until you can get a new cover to replace the old, cracked one.

If you find that you have to replace a light bulb do so with care and caution. Clean the corroded socket well and brush it with a metal brush before putting in the new bulb. When you’re done seal the gasket with some rubber protectant also.

Use these Tips all the time and you’ll find that when you go to resell your car the price you’ll get will make you very pleased.  And of course come back and see us for Part 6!


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