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Frugal Automobile Tips

 

 

Buying a Car

There are several things you can do to increase your chances of buying a good used car.

Always ask to see receipts from maintenance and repairs done on a car if you are buying it from the owner. If they don't have them, beware. It is also a red flag if they don't meet you at their home.

Always run the VIN number of any vehicle you are thinking of purchasing to see if it has been in an accident. If you are buying from a dealer, your best shot is to take the car to a mechanic and have it thoroughly inspected.

Buying a fleet vehicle, or rental car is usually safe, as these cars have been maintained.

As far as price, always check out prices in the Kelly Blue Book, but realize that these books can be difficult to figure out, and the prices are often inflated.


Color

Color can be an emotional decision when buying a car.  You might want to weight other factors.  Red cars usually have a higher resale value.  Black and dark cars are the hardest to keep clean, and light colored cars are the safest.  Silver is considered the safest car color, and is also the easiest to keep clean.


Dealers

If you are checking out Dealers for a used car, try an upscale neighborhood.  People with more money trade their cars in more often, and you can often find cars in better condition and with lower mileage.


Gas Savings

Air-Conditioning

You will use a lot less gas if you don't fun the air-conditioner in your car while driving. If possible, run your errands in the morning before the worst heat of the day.


Appointments

Schedule appointments for visits to the doctor and dentist at times of the day when you face less traffic, and will start and stop less in traffic. If you can do it, schedule appointments with medical professionals so that you will be the first visit of the day or after lunch. Also, you won't lose so much time in the waiting room if they are running behind.


Fan Belts 

A fan belt that is put too tightly on an engine will cause the engine to work harder and burn more gas.  Check your vehicle when the engine is off and cool.  Make sure that when you press against the belt there is a little give.


Idling

If you plan to put your car in idle for more than 30 seconds, it is cheaper to turn it off. Less time than that, you will use more gas restarting the engine. Please note: This tip is only for when you are not in traffic and off the road, like in a parking lot.


Manuals

Always read the owners manual that comes with your car. If you buy a used car, without a manual, send for the manual, or order it from the library. Write down the recommended maintenance, as well as other important information such as the type of gasoline to use for your engine. Use the lowest octane possible to save the most money. Have the proper maintenance done on your automobile and it will last longer.


Starting Your Car

When you turn your car on, there is no need to warm it up for more than one minute. Any longer than one minute, and you are just wasting gas.


Insurance

Declining Car Insurance

If you have an older car, you may not want to carry collision and comprehensive insurance on your car. If your car is not worth $1,500, you may be better off pocketing the money you'll save on the premium and putting it in an emergency savings account. Essentially, you will be self-insured. Then, if you don't need it for your automobile, you will get to keep it. You can also think about doing this if you are a good driver, and don't have a lot of exposure for accidents.


Maintenance

Carpet

Regardless of the how your car is running, when you are ready to sell it, how the interior looks is going to have a big effect on the selling price. The carpet in your vehicle is like a high traffic area in your home. Unfortunately, you can't put in hard wood flooring. However, it is very easy lay down a carpet sample or carpet remnant. Take the time to protect your automobile, and your investment.


Batteries

Buy the best quality car battery you can afford. It will serve you longer, and give you more peace of mind. Keep your battery clean by pouring club soda on it. It you are trying to "push" an old battery that needs recharging, be sure and back your car into your driveway so that it will be conveniently placed if you need a jump start.


 

Repairs

Do you groan every time your car goes in the shop for repairs? Do you wonder if they are over charging you on repairs. There are honest repair shops. Find one before you need one. Ask around. Reputations are earned. If you ask enough people, you will find the ones who do good work at a fair price.


Tires

When it is time to replace the tires on your car, here is one things you can do to try and save money. Check around and see if you can find some "slightly used" tires that fit your car. Some people decide to upgrade their tires just to improve the appear of their vehicles. In some cases, their tires are barely used. If you can locate their old tires, you will save a lot of money. If you have the money, invest in quality, high mileage tires. They cost a bit more, but will give you twice the mileage.


Wax Your Car

In addition to regular maintenance, be sure to wax your car twice a year, and keep it in a garage, if possible. We kept two cars for 15 years, and they still looked good. A car is a major expense. Purchase one that you know is made well and will last, and then do what it takes to keep it nice so you won't be embarrassed to drive it and want to replace it. You will save not hundreds, but thousands of dollars over the years.


Window Washing Fluid

If you don't know how to maintain the window washing fluid in your car yourself, get out the manual.  Buy it at a discount store like Walmart, and save the cost of having it done for you.


Repairs


Used Parts

If you have an older car that needs a part, be sure to ask if they can locate one that is reconditioned. Salvage yards store working parts retrieved from cars that have been totaled. A good auto repair shop will be able to locate these parts which can save you a considerable amount of money.

 


Vandalism and Theft

 

Protecting Your Vehicle

Car theft and vandalism seem to be on the rise. If you think you are at risk, think about investing in a Commercial Car Club to put across the steering wheel. Also, try and always park in an area with good lighting. At home, it may be worth keeping your porch light on all night. When you shop at the store, park in the front, not in the back or on the sides of shopping centers. Car theft alarms are good, but be prepared for others to ignore them.
 


Misc

Oil Spills

If you get an oil stain on your driveway, remove it as soon as possible.  For a quick fix, try spreading some kitty litter on the spot to see if it will absorb the stain. For tougher stains, try this:


Start by soaking the oil stain with mineral spirits.  Let it sit for 3 minutes and then scrub it with a stiff bristled brush. After scrubbing, lay some newspaper on top of the stain and let it dry. Then finish by washing the stain with the following solution:

1 cup laundry detergent
1 cup bleach
1 gallon water.


Tickets

 We all know that sickening feel when we hear a siren behind us and realize we are driving too fast.  Tickets are expensive. Don't let yourself speed, no matter how late you are. If you do get a ticket, show up in court.  If you have any kind of excuse, they will often reduce the fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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