Tuesday, February 12, 2008


While the discussion of what car to actually purchase will be discussed in a later post, I would like to point out a few things to keep in mind with the car you already have. I recently had the lovely opportunity to have my car run into an issue where the transmission was stuck in four wheel drive. Naturally my girlfriend was driving and I was no where nearby. So after having her turn the car off and back on, the issue seemed to have been resolved, I came to a bit of a cross road. I knew that there was a problem but it seemed to have been "healed" all by itself. Should I let it go and see if it happened again or have it immediately taken to the dealership to have it at least looked at.

As much of a pain as it was, I elected for the latter. I ended up having the sensor replaced, as well as an over haul of the entire four wheel drive system (Consider getting a second opinion on your vehicle when it has problems, until you are comfortable and trust a mechanic you may end up spending more than necessary). It might seem as though that was slightly fool hardy but I look at my car as an investment. Not an investment where it will gain equity, but as an investment to stave off another vehicle purchase. The absolute best way to save money in the long run is to not have a car payment. Some might argue that "Well, I am always going to have a car payment so I might as well get the nicest car I can." This is simply not true! This happens because some are not in tune with getting regular preventative maintenance. Ever hear the phrase "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? It's definitely true. Cars should last at least 10 years in our opinion here at Milk Your Money and by keeping your car going for at least double the amount of time on your loan, you can justify that your payment is being cut in half in the long run.
My vehicle purchase was out of necessity and my selection process was somewhat biased as I had just moved and gotten a new job and the payment was/is manageable. Don't get me wrong, I love my car, but if I knew then, what I know now, I would have chosen differently. Again, that type of discussion is for another post.

I want to make the point that my thought process was geared towards not having a massive payment later down the road. (Any puns found in the previous sentence were completely intentional.)

SmartMoney has an excellent article that talks about the 10 best ways to keep your car out of the shop. These are really simple ways to make sure you get the absolute most out of your car. Some are well known while others are not. Here is a quick summary:
  1. Start it up properly: "Make sure that any extra accessories, such as headlights or climate control, aren't on when you turn on the ignition."

  2. Come to a complete stop: "By shifting into drive while the car is still in reverse, you're asking the transmission to do the work of the brakes — and that will wear down your gears [...]"

  3. Don't Run the needle down to empty: "You can stir up sediment by driving with less than a quarter of a tank of gas. Prolonged abuse could wreck your fuel injector, which costs about $80 to $100."

  4. Turn gently: "By turning the wheel to the point where it can move no further, you're putting 50 times more wear and tear on your steering pump than normal [...]"

  5. Check your tires: "If you drive with too little air, your tires will get quite hot; excessive heat will wear out the tread much faster than normal driving. If you drive with too much air, less rubber will hit the road than necessary. Next thing you know, the outside portion of your tire will be doing all the work and wearing out faster than the inside."

  6. Don't ride the clutch: "Pop the car into neutral and take your foot off the clutch while sitting in traffic."

  7. Listen to your car: "The most common sound people ignore is squeaky brakes. As soon as you hear the sound, you probably need new brake pads [...]"

  8. Heed those warning lights: "By waiting even a few days, you can turn a simple problem into a disaster [...]"

  9. Drive more: "Many people don't realize it, but not driving your car can be as damaging as driving it too hard."

  10. Neglect will cost you: "The single most important thing you can do for your car is take it in for regular maintenance."

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