Car maintenance costs are rarely taken into consideration with new cars, and only slightly more with used cars. Car buying sites like Edmunds.com and Kelly Blue Book provide 5-year estimates of the cost of ownership of a selected vehicle, including insurance costs, fuel spend, and dealer recommended maintenance (at dealership rates), but even those estimates don’t tell the whole story.
Often, drivers don’t realize this until they’ve already bought the car (or have owned a similar car in the past). While these needs don’t always result in massive maintenance costs, it is a good idea to be fully prepared before buying your next ride.
Regardless of how old or new your car is, or what type of powertrain it has, you can usually save money on maintenance and repairs by taking it to an independent auto shop (like Convoy Auto Repair) rather than the dealership. It’s not just our friendly mechanics and personalized attention that keeps our customers coming back, after all.
Maintenance Needs for All Wheel Drive Trucks and SUVs
Trying to decide between an all wheel drive and front wheel drive vehicle? All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive trucks and cars will cost more to maintain given the fact that they have transfer cases and axles that normally require routine fluid changes. So if you are thinking of buying a car with winter weather traction in San Diego, remember you live in San Diego. You really only need all or 4-wheeel drive if you love to ski or enjoy regular muddy off-roading excitement.
Alternative Powertrain Vehicles Require Unique Maintenance
Hybrid and electric vehicles can save lots of money at certain points of ownership, especially at the gas pump, but they also have more complex maintenance needs and potentially difficult problems during their lifespans. Replacement batteries, limited warranties, and specialized parts can require an extra chunk of change during repair and maintenance time. Batteries don’t just wear down with use, they wear down with time, too. Doing your research ahead of time and selecting the right alternative fuel vehicle for your driving needs will save you the most money. But did you know Convoy Auto Repair’s technicians are fully qualified to work on your hybrid or all-electric vehicle? You can bring your Leaf, Prius, or Fusion in at our rates, rather than accepting the dealership’s higher prices! We also honor all extended warranties, because we love our customers.
What about diesel? If you drive mostly on the highway, a diesel engine can make much more sense from a cost-savings perspective. Diesel engines can easily outdo their EPA highway MPG rating by a substantial figure. But to make a diesel engine clean enough emissions-wise either it will use a particulate filter (which needs routine cleaning and changing) or it will have a urea injection system (requiring refills every 30,000 miles).
Check the Brakes on Used Cars
When shopping for a used car, most people kick the tires and check how worn they are, pop the hood to check for leaks or belts and hoses that need replacing, and they make sure the stereo, air conditioning and power windows all work. Then they sign the paperwork and go home. Unfortunately, people tend to forget to check out the condition of the car’s brakes and whether or not the brakes are up to the quality specifications of the manufacturer. Taking your new-to-you car to an independent mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection is one way to ensure all the important parts are up to par. These inspections at Convoy Auto Repair mean we’ll lift the car to check everything underneath, and take off the wheels for a brake inspection that covers brake pads, rotors, and what parts are currently being used. Knowing what you’re buying will help you make the best financial decisions about your used car.
James Hamel is a freelance road tester, auto journalist, and Motor Press Guild full member. Find past work at Autobytel.com and current work at iSeeCars.com. Contact James at [email protected].