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Ways to Cut the Cost of Servicing Your Vehicle

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ways To Cut The Cost Of Servicing Your Vehicle

A car will be one of your most expensive purchases, and the rising cost of motoring makes it even more so. Here’s some tips on how to keep your vehicle in tip-top condition, and the cost of your servicing and maintenance down.

Check your Tyres Regularly

During your weekly checks you should always check your tyre condition and pressure. Not only is driving with underinflated tyres a dangerous thing to do, it also reduces the life expectancy of your tyres and can lower the fuel efficiency of your car.

If you let your tyres drop below 10% of the recommended pressure, you can expect to end up with a 15% acceleration in the speed your tyres wear at, and a 2.5% reduction in the efficiency of your fuel consumption. It can mean big tyre replacement bills when it comes to Service time.

Also remember that with tyres, there is a certain truth in the adage 'you get what you pay for'. There is a lot more to tyres than the thickness of the tread, and usually the higher the cost, the better they perform - and the longer the life expectancy.

Different tyre models are specific to the kind of driving you do - how fast you usually drive at, how many people you carry and other factors. Try and match your tyres to the style of your driving.

If you know you need new tyres, don't just accept the garage's price, make a few phone calls yourself and see if you can pick up the tyres cheaper and supply them to the mechanics. If money is tight, consider remoulded tyres - but remember, they won't last as long as brand new ones.

Shop Around for Servicing Quotes

If you don't have to go to a main dealer, then you might want to consider going to a independent garage, which is likely to be quite a lot cheaper. Independent garages are less likely to insist on manufacturer's original parts and will be happier to use more generic, and therefore cheaper parts. Warranty rules have changed recently - referred to as the 'Block Exemption' regulations, and in most cases, you don't have to use a main dealer for your services inside the warranty period anymore. However you do have to make sure that you fit the manufacturer's criteria for service regularity and the standard of parts used, so make sure you check the small print before you go to a garage outside the main dealership.

If you're looking for an independent dealer, try to find one by recommendation - word of mouth is the best way to find a good, reliable garage, but the Internet can also be very helpful when researching where to take your car for repair and maintenance.

Sourcing and Providing Your Own Parts

When your car needs fixing, it can often be cheaper for you to buy the parts and supply them to the garage – leaving you just paying for the labour costs. Especially in the case of consumables such as oil, filters, bulbs, window wipers - you can pay far less for them at a car accessory store such as Halfords, or in the case of things like screen wash and antifreeze – at a supermarket such as Tesco or Asda, than you will if you go through a garage. If you know that your car is going to need a service in a few weeks then you have plenty of time to get all the little bits and pieces you need and keep them safe until they are needed.

If you're going shopping for parts, make sure you have the Haynes Manual or the Owner's manual for your vehicle - there's no point in buying parts and then finding out that they aren't the right ones for your car!

Choose your Oil Carefully

If you are going to take along your own oil for the service, you'll need to know which one to buy. Oils fall into three differing kinds, the most expensive type of oil is fully synthetic oil, followed by semi-synthetic, with mineral bringing up the rear as the cheapest type of motor oil.

Synthetic and Semi-Synthetic oils cause less wear on your engine and bring down your fuel consumption. So although mineral oil may be cheaper to purchase initially, the cost could be wiped out by engine wear and the extra fuel you'll need to pay for.

Oil also comes in different types of thickness, technically referred to as viscosity. Generally, the thicker the oil, the cheaper it is, but the more fuel you'll use. More expensive oils also have additives that improve performance or protect the engine more than cheaper oils, so again, it can be a false economy to go for the less expensive option.

Have a go Yourself

Even if you've never even so much as held a spanner, there are small jobs that you can carry out on your car that will make your car perform better and make it less likely to need repairs. Small jobs can still work out fairly expensive, and sometimes, they're so easy to do yourself - it's just a case of knowing how. Don't be scared to do things like changing your windscreen wipers, changing your own oil, etc. Buy yourself a Haynes Manual and set about doing some of the easiest jobs first - each task is 'graded' by difficulty, so you won't end up doing something far too complicated by accident.

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