If you’re traveling by car this holiday season, you want to get your car ready to go. Auto maintenance can be a strain on the wallet, but there are some ways to beat the costs, even for those who rarely look under the hood. Below are three tips to help get any car ready for a road trip, without spending a lot.
Replace windshield wipers for less
Before hitting the road in bad weather, it’s important to have a clear windshield. Windshield wiper blades are easy — and cheap — to replace on your own. It’s important to know that the part of the wiper that needs replacing is usually just the blade, not the whole windshield wiper.
To help you find the right fit for your car, most auto stores have a book or computer near the blades and wipers. All you need to know is the make, model and year of your car; then you can look up exactly what you need. Most blades easily slip into fasteners on the wiper. If you’re nervous about changing the wipers on your own, many mechanics or auto supply stores will put them on free, or at a very reduced cost. If you buy and replace wiper blades at a service shop, you’re likely to get dinged with inflated costs for the wiper blade and the service fee. Check out Advanced Autoparts or Costco for wipers and blades.
How to replace your windshield wiper blades
Windshield wiper fluid is also an important part of a clear view while driving. A service station could charge around $10 to refill your fluid, but this is easy to change on your own. Open your hood, look for the blue cover, with the windshield wiper icon capping a tube, and pour the fluid into the tube until it’s full. If you are nervous about trying it on your own, ask a worker at the auto store or gas station. Most of the time, you’re likely to find a mechanic who will be happy to help you find the right spot.
Once the windshield is in shape, it’s time to check the tires. Keeping tires at the properly inflated level can improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 %. To find the correct pressure point, check your owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s door. Most gas stations offer air free or at a machine for less than $2 in quarters. If you need a tire pressure gauge, most gas stations have one that customers can borrow — or you can buy one online for less than $15.
Once the basics are covered, an oil change may still be in order, but now you can head confidently to an oil change location knowing that you don’t need to buy extras. Check out Yelp for reviews, but make sure to check sites for good deals. Many dealerships often offers coupons for oil changes on their websites. Local mechanics also advertise special discounts.
Be wary of seasonal inspection packages — many will simply offer easy add-ons — like checking tire pressure and refilling windshield fluid at an exorbitant cost. Depending on the wear of your tires, a rotation may be a good deal, and it’s always important to listen if a mechanic tells you to get new brakes.
But you don’t need to be a mechanic — or pay mechanic’s prices — to get your car ready for the road.
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