car maintenance http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9686/all en-US 8 Easy Fixes to Boost Your Car's Re-Sale Value http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-fixes-to-boost-your-cars-re-sale-value <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-easy-fixes-to-boost-your-cars-re-sale-value" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000040971784_Large.jpg" alt="washing car" title="washing car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Are you ready for a new car? Great. But is your current car ready to be sold?</p> <p>You may not think fixing it up is worth the time and effort (can't the new owner do that?), but those old tires, stained seats, and burned-out tail lights could cost you money.</p> <p>According to Lauren Fix, spokeswoman for the nonprofit <a href="http://www.carcare.org/">Car Care Council</a>, the value of a mid-range car can be increased by $2,000 or more if you just spruce it up by making some quick and easy repairs. &quot;If you can brag about your car's new brakes or high-quality tires, it will probably sell much quicker,&quot; she says.</p> <p>Here are eight ways to make your car look as close to &quot;like new&quot; as possible, and get hundreds &mdash; or thousands &mdash; more when you sell it.</p> <h2>1. Polish up the Front</h2> <p>Nothing says &quot;beater car&quot; like a cracked windshield and blown-out headlights. But fixing lights just means a quick trip to the auto parts store, and as a bonus, they're generally inexpensive to replace. If yours are dingy, buy a headlight-cleaning product that will leave the plastic light covers bright and clear.</p> <p>In the case of windows, the cost of repairing chips and cracks on the windshield is typically low relative to the amount that potential buyers will mentally deduct from your car's overall price if you leave the damage as is. So, even if it seems a bit costly, the up-front cost of fixing your windshield will probably be more than compensated for in the final re-sale price.</p> <h2>2. Clean up the Interior</h2> <p>It's easy to clean and vacuum your floor mats if they're dirty. But if they're worn through or soiled beyond repair, it's also cheap and easy to swap them with new ones, which should cost no more than $30 at the auto supply shop.</p> <p>For the rest of your interiors, clean and treat the leather, and vacuum and scrub the carpeting. But don't use household cleaners &mdash; the materials in your car are different than those in furniture and carpets. Spring for cleaning products made for the job.</p> <h2>3. Shine Your Wheels</h2> <p>Nothing makes an old car look newer than shiny, lustrous wheels, so take time to clean out the dirt and grime, and use a tire-shine product on the sidewalls.</p> <p>Then, check for wear and tear. If your tire treads are noticeably worn, at least replace them with some matching used tires (they can cost as little as $30 per tire). If you're not going to replace tires that are fast-approaching their use-by date, then expect to knock off a significant amount &mdash; at least $300, probably closer to $500 &mdash; from your asking price.</p> <h2>4. Make Easy Repairs</h2> <p>Look all over your car &mdash; inside, outside, and under the engine &mdash; to see what first impressions you can improve. Is the key fob battery dead, or a tail light burnt out? Those are easy replacements that don't cost a lot.</p> <p>Make sure there are no warning lights glowing on the dashboard. If the &quot;windshield washer fluid low&quot; light is on, that's a no-brainer &mdash; top it off. If the &quot;check engine&quot; light is on, then get it checked. It could be a simple, inexpensive fix. If it costs more than you want to spend, at least divulge the problem to potential buyers &mdash; being honest goes a long way.</p> <h2>5. Wax On, Wax Off</h2> <p>If your car's paint job is faded, all you need is wax and polish to restore some shine &mdash; and car value. But if your car's value is in the upscale range &mdash; above $40,000 &mdash; it may be worth paying a professional detail shop to clean and polish it thoroughly. The difference between super-clean and dingy could be thousands of dollars.</p> <h2>6. Erase the Dents and Dings</h2> <p>While it probably isn't worth investing in serious body work, some parking-lot scratches can be polished out for an affordable amount. Check with your car insurance company or Angie's List for reputable firms that specialize in dent removal. A huge dent in your car is worth spending $100<span style="color: rgb(84, 84, 84); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: small; font-style: normal; line-height: 18.2000007629395px;">&ndash;</span>$200 on to get removed, because it could get you a few more thousand in the sales price, says Lauren Fix of the Car Care Council. But if you go for cheap or shoddy bodywork, that could actually reduce your car's value, she adds. &quot;You would be better off disclosing that the car needs some body work.&quot;</p> <h2>7. Consider Springing for New Brakes</h2> <p>If your car is a luxury model, new brakes are worth the cost. If it's a mid-range or economy car, consider knocking off $100<span style="color: rgb(84, 84, 84); font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: small; font-style: normal; line-height: 18.2000007629395px;">&ndash;</span>$150 from your asking price, instead. But if the brakes are really bad &mdash; squeaking every time you come to a stoplight &mdash; then pony up for replacements. Squeaky brakes will stay in a potential buyer's mind more than anything else about your car.</p> <h2>8. Get Your Car's Info in Order</h2> <p>Okay, you you've had your car maintained regularly and the battery is practically brand new &mdash; but can you prove it? The selling process really starts with rounding up your paperwork. That's why you should keep a folder of maintenance and repair records on your car. Besides providing evidence, an orderly folder shows that you really cared about your vehicle. If you don't have your service receipts, ask your dealer, regular mechanic, or oil-change center if they can print a statement that summarizes your visits.</p> <p>Also, get a vehicle history report from CarFax or Experian to present along with the car. Besides showing the vehicle's ownership history, it'll prove your car was never in an accident.</p> <p>If you can show buyers all your maintenance and service records, that &mdash; along with all the inexpensive fixes you've made &mdash; will go a long way towards giving your car's next owner peace of mind.</p> <p><em>What inexpensive fixes have you made prior to selling a car?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/vanessa-richardson">Vanessa Richardson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-easy-fixes-to-boost-your-cars-re-sale-value">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cheap-ways-to-make-your-car-look-awesome">12 Cheap Ways to Make Your Car Look Awesome</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-these-car-buying-incentives-get-you-to-buy-a-new-car">Will these car buying incentives get you to buy a new car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-important-financial-moments-of-your-life">The 7 Most Important Financial Moments of Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/where-to-turn-for-help-when-you-dont-have-an-emergency-fund">Where to Turn for Help When You Don&#039;t Have an Emergency Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-personal-finance-skills-everyone-should-master">12 Personal Finance Skills Everyone Should Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance car car maintenance care sale used car Wed, 14 Jan 2015 14:00:09 +0000 Vanessa Richardson 1278532 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Cheap Ways to Make Your Car Look Awesome http://www.wisebread.com/12-cheap-ways-to-make-your-car-look-awesome <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-cheap-ways-to-make-your-car-look-awesome" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man-cleaning-car-interior-524625211-small.jpg" alt="man cleaning car" title="man cleaning car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us car owners spend an awful lot of time in our vehicles, whether commuting to work, driving the kids to soccer practice, or just hauling groceries. I'm no big fan of keeping up with the Joneses, but the temptation to purchase a new, shiny car is a familiar feeling for many of us, even though keeping an older car can be much more cost effective (especially if it is paid off). So if making small upgrades to your older car help you keep it longer, then you're making a truly frugal choice. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them?ref=seealso">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a>)</p> <p>In short, if you feel good about your older car, you're less likely to be tempted to buy a new one. Here are some easy ways to make your older car feel like a new one.</p> <h2>Inexpensive Fixes</h2> <p>These basic maintenance tips should cost you less than $100 and will help prolong the life of your car while keeping it looking good.</p> <h3>1. Clean and Organize Your Car</h3> <p>Every time you get out of your car, make it a habit to empty it of trash. A serious deep cleaning is great, so you can splurge (money or your own time and effort) once a year on a good interior detailing, but a simple dusting once a month can keep your dashboard looking spiffy.</p> <p>There's no need to invest in expensive organization tools &mdash; you can keep your glove compartment organized using Ziplock bags (all the car manuals in one bag, tools in another, car repair and maintenance paperwork in another, phone chargers and iPod cords in yet another, etc.).</p> <p>As for the exterior, you don't have to wax your car to a perfect shine, but putting it through a good car wash every couple of weeks will help you feel better about it. If you have the inclination, you can always use a toilet brush to clean your wheels every few weeks &mdash; wheels don't tend to get very clean in the car wash.</p> <h3>2. Replace Your Floor Mats</h3> <p>Floor mats are usually the first things to get ruined in a car. If your car still has the original floor mats <em>and</em> they don't qualify as Superfund cleanup sites, congrats! You should probably take them out of your car and store them for later, if and when you decide to trade in or sell your car. Instead, use weather-appropriate rubber floor mats. These will keep your car's carpet looking good and prevent the growth of mold caused by wet boots.</p> <h3>3. Get New Windshield Wipers</h3> <p>If you live anywhere that gets real weather, you know how important a good set of windshield wipers can be. Clean your blades with a microfiber cloth once a week, replace your blades every couple of months, and use a windshield treatment like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BVRZ74/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000BVRZ74&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HQSM6FUNT4IEKQAG">Rain-X</a> to help keep your wipers in good working condition.</p> <p>Some older cars have particularly weak windshield wipers, so if you really want to see the road, shell out some extra dough and get an entirely new set of wipers (with motor).</p> <h3>4. Get Some Seat Covers</h3> <p>To protect your seats from future abuse, or to cover up seats that are too far gone already, buy some seat covers in basic, unobtrusive colors.</p> <h3>5. Clean Windows Inside and Out</h3> <p>Clean the insides and outsides of your windows to improve both your visibility and the appearance of your car.</p> <p>Do you have kids? Chances are that the inside of your car's back windows are disgusting (I know mine are). Use a cleaner like GooGone to remove stickers and other goop, and then clean with your favorite window cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Some car owners swear by newspaper (as opposed to towels or paper towels) and barely soapy water as a windshield cleaner.</p> <h3>6. Repair Dents and Scratches</h3> <p>There are quite a few ways to remove dents from the body of your car &mdash; everything from the <a href="http://diy-auto-repair.wonderhowto.com/how-to/fix-huge-dent-your-car-home-without-ruining-paint-job-0146581/">hot glue method</a> to the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW3qzH7W-5c">suction method</a>. On older cars (especially cars that have body parts that are still made of actual metal), repairing deep scratches can prevent rust and future damage.</p> <p>Inexpensive scratch <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/06/car-scratch-repair-pens-review/index.htm">repair pens can only fix the top layer</a> of your car's protective coating, so don't count on them to fix a scratch the goes through the actual paint.</p> <h3>7. Perform Regular Maintenance, Like Oil Changes</h3> <p>Okay, this might not contribute directly to the appearance of your car, but keeping your car in good running condition is even more important than making sure it looks good (and fewer things will drive into the arms of a car salesman faster than a roadside breakdown with your older vehicle). With older cars, sometimes basic maintenance almost seems like it isn't worth it. But it is! Regular oil changes, filter replacement, and belt checks can keep an older car running for years beyond its expected expiration date.</p> <h2>Moderately Expensive Fixes</h2> <p>These car-care options are a touch more expensive, but can increase your enjoyment of your car.</p> <h3>8. Get the Seats and Carpets Shampooed Regularly</h3> <p>Look for social coupons and deals with local detail shops, or just do what I do and spend $100 every six months to have your seats and carpets vacuumed and shampooed. If you allow food and drink in your vehicle, you may need to do this more often. Clean upholstery can make a car feel practically new inside.</p> <h3>9. Upgrade Your Car Speakers</h3> <p>Factory default sound systems in older cars are generally pretty lame, but you don't have to break the bank to get an improvement in sound quality. Sometimes, something as simple as <a href="http://cartech.about.com/od/Car-Audio/ss/Newbies-Guide-To-Car-Audio_2.htm#step-heading">replacing the factory speakers</a> can be enough to drastically improve your car's sound. Of course, if you want to replace that 8-track player with a system that you can plug your iPod into, that'll cost you quite a bit more. However, if music is something that makes your commute more bearable, it might be worthwhile to spend a little more to get the tunes you need.</p> <h2>Spendy Fixes</h2> <p>These investments cost more upfront, but make a big difference in how your car looks.</p> <h3>10. Replace Banged-Up Body Parts</h3> <p>If you can't easily repair a deep scratch or remove a dent, you can always look for <a href="http://www.car-part.com/">body part replacements</a>, either online or through local scrap shops. You might just find a stellar deal on that passenger side door.</p> <h3>11. Repaint the Exterior</h3> <p>Probably more than any other service, a new paint job can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of your car. At the low end, you can expect to pay at least $600 for a paint job at shops like Maaco, but the <a href="http://www.carsdirect.com/car-maintenance/average-costs-of-common-custom-car-paint-jobs">quality of car paint</a> used in these jobs isn't necessarily the greatest. For a couple of thousand dollars, you should be able to get a good exterior paint job that will dramatically improve how your car looks.</p> <h3>12. Get New Wheels</h3> <p>Vehicle wheels are funny &mdash; you wouldn't think that they could make such a big difference in a car's appearance, but they do. Cheap, older cars come equipped with cheap wheels, and over time, wheels really do show their age. Between missing hubcaps and mishaps with cement curbs, your wheels probably look pretty bad once your car hits the 125K mark.</p> <p>New high performance wheels can set you back between $400-1500 (plus the cost of tires), so only consider them if you really love your car and want to keep it for a long time (and want it to drive a bit better).</p> <p><em>How do you keep your old car looking (and running) like new? Please share your car care tips in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cheap-ways-to-make-your-car-look-awesome">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-reasons-why-i-love-public-transportation">Five Reasons Why I Love Public Transportation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-more-gas-by-safely-following-trucks">Save More Gas by Safely Following Trucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cut-car-ownership-costs">How To Cut Car Ownership Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-these-5-car-maintenance-tasks-and-keep-your-car-on-the-road-forever">Do These 5 Car Maintenance Tasks and Keep Your Car on the Road Forever</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living auto repair car maintenance Cars old car used car Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:00:08 +0000 Andrea Karim 1263098 at http://www.wisebread.com Should You Be Paying Someone Else to Do These 7 Common Chores? http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-be-paying-someone-else-to-do-these-7-common-chores <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/should-you-be-paying-someone-else-to-do-these-7-common-chores" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-cleaning-462292599-small.jpg" alt="tired cleaning" title="tired cleaning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>DIY has been getting a lot of good press lately as we all process the lessons of the Great Recession and get more in-touch with our self-reliant selves. But is DIY always the smartest way to go? Considering money saved versus potential money-earned and other cost-benefit analyses, when is DIY a smart saving strategy, and when is it a waste of time? Here are seven typical DIY projects and approximate associated savings. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-time-value-of-money-matters-and-10-ways-it-affects-you?ref=seealso">Why the Time-Value of Money Matters</a>)</p> <h2>1. Basic Auto Maintenance</h2> <p>You don't need to take a class in auto mechanics or invest in a pneumatic impact wrenches and a hydraulic car lift. But by checking fluids and tire pressure regularly, knowing how to replace an air filter or fuse, and learning a few other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-car-maintenance-with-these-5-diy-tips">DIY auto maintenance</a> skills, you can save some serious cash in the short- and long-term. Though car repair and maintenance costs differ based on the state you live in and the task, hourly rates of mechanics in the US range from $115.00 to $150.00.</p> <h2>2. Tax Preparation</h2> <p>One of the wonderful things about the Information Age is the access each of us has to software once reserved for the pros. This access comes in particularly handy at tax time when, if your tax situation isn't too complicated, you can complete and file a simple return online all with the help of intuitive software and easy-to-use programs &mdash; <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filing-your-taxes-for-free-online-how-to-do-it-and-what-to-expect">sometimes even for free</a>.</p> <p>Like most things in life, the key to stress-free tax preparation is keeping meticulous records and carving out enough time to do it and do it right. Next year, crunch the numbers yourself and see if it makes sense to prepare and file your taxes on your own &mdash; especially considering that according to the National Society of Accountants, the <a href="http://www.nsacct.org/life-and-taxes/life-and-taxes/2013/12/12/taxprepfees2013">average cost</a> to file a federal return in 2013 was $261.00. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-last-years-taxes-into-this-years-financial-spring-cleaning?ref=seealso">Turn Last Year's Taxes Into This Year's Financial Spring Cleaning</a>)</p> <h2>3. Yard Work</h2> <p>It's hard to convince most people of the joys and health benefits of yard work. Considering that the average cost of two hour's worth of lawn-mowing services in my part of the country can be as low as $11.85, I can see why many folks opt to skip this particular form of DIY in exchange for a little R&amp;R. This handy <a href="http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_mow_lawn.html">ZIP Code based rate calculator</a> from Homewyse can help you see what the high and low lawn care rates are in your neck of the woods.</p> <p>Still committed to the idea of DIY lawn care? Relieve some of the drudgery by involving the whole family and sharing the work for a few hours a couple of days each week, then reward everyone with a movie and pizza afterward. Not so skilled at the finer points of lawn care? <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Try this recipe</a> to turn that brown lawn into a carpet of green.</p> <h2>4. House Cleaning</h2> <p>House cleaning is a lot like yard work &mdash; it's easy to lean toward a non-DIY approach because of the sheer drudgery and time commitment involved. According to Angie's List, average <a href="http://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-hire-house-cleaner.htm">hourly rates for house cleaners</a> fall between $25.00-$35.00, though those numbers seem a bit high for many parts of the country. In this category, a clear cost-benefit analysis has to include factors like how much stress a dirty or disorganized environment causes you, any gains in productivity you'd achieve with this particular to-do off your list, and &mdash; since housecleaning doesn't pair well with multitasking &mdash; the amount of leisure time or productive time that's sacrificed with this activity.</p> <h2>5. Car Washing</h2> <p>My local touchless car wash has four pricing options: The &quot;deluxe&quot; option is $8.00, and it includes a wash, spot-free rinse, the application of some sort of wax protectant, and a blow dry at the very end. Options decrease in price and features from there, going as low as $5.00. Granted, I could save a buck or two by washing my car myself (the old bucket, sponge, and shammy method), but honestly either option seems better than paying for a full-service hand wash. An express hand wash at the location nearest to me is $31.00. With tip, that's four times more than the most expensive touchless option.</p> <p>The lesson here is this: There are varying degrees of DIY. Even when we resolve not pay someone else to our grunt-work, there's a range of what I call &quot;semi-DIY&quot; options that are still convenient and relatively quick.</p> <h2>6. Dining Out</h2> <p>Though we may not think of this way, every time we pull up to the drive-through window or sit down to order in a restaurant, we're outsourcing cooking and meal prep. With dining out, however, the costs are a bit more difficult to pin down; prices vary based on region, type of meal, service level, food choices, gratuity, and other add-ons.</p> <p>Still, it's important to think of the costs of restaurant meals holistically. What are the health consequences of not being able to control portion size or ingredients? What comparable dish could you make at home with minimal effort, tools, time, and money?</p> <p>For example, if dinner at your favorite restaurant costs $17.00, how much would it cost to create a similar meal at home and how might that meal be healthier? How many more meals would the ingredients produce? Would cooking be time lost, or is it something you enjoy and could pair with another activity? What's specifically is gained in buying prepared food and are those gains impossible to maintain if you cooked at home?</p> <p>If you'd like to try more DIY meals, start a collection of quick and simple recipes that you can make without dozens of ingredients and a kitchen full of specialized wonder-gadgets. If you have the time, make more than you need or make a few meals ahead and freeze the rest for quick and healthy solutions that keep you miles away from McCuisine. (See also: 2 <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-healthy-recipes-for-lazy-people?ref=seealso">5 Healthy Recipes for Lazy People</a>)</p> <h2>7. Dry Cleaning</h2> <p>A dear friend of mine works in an office where business professional attire is the standard. And, though I have no firm numbers to prove it, her monthly dry-cleaning expenses must exceed my monthly cell phone bill. Still, she continues to buy clothing that can only be dry cleaned. Suits and formal wear aside, with all the advances in microfibers and washable wool, why are we still stuffing our closets with items that need to be carted off to a specialist to be properly cleaned?</p> <p>Okay, now I'll step off my soapbox and suggest a few DIY options and alternatives for some of those dry-clean only items. Hand-washing in cold water and air-drying, using an at-home dry-cleaning kit, or freshening up clothes with a good steam ironing can keep you out of the dry-cleaners or at least make your visit far less frequent. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=home%20dry%20cleaning%20kit&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahome%20dry%20cleaning%20kit&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=TKFMPSEZT6TTEV5T">At-home dry cleaning kits</a> run about $10.00. Though the effectiveness and number of treatments vary by brand, success with these kits usually depends on thorough pre-treating with water or stain-remover.</p> <p>Of course, the response I often hear against the idea of DIY goes something like this: &quot;If I earn $45.00 an hour, I actually <em>save</em> money by hiring a lower-wage worker to take care of certain tasks and using the spare time to earn more money or recharge.&quot; And that's a completely fair conclusion. The key is understanding what the real savings are when we choose to complete a task ourselves or hire it done.</p> <p><em>Are you a committed DIYer? What tasks would you gladly pay someone else to do if the costs and benefits supported it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-be-paying-someone-else-to-do-these-7-common-chores">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-use-your-outdoor-furniture-inside">5 Reasons to Use Your Outdoor Furniture -– Inside</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-home-diy-projects-you-can-do-in-one-day">10 Home DIY Projects You Can Do in One Day</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sock-it-to-me-15-uses-for-old-socks">Sock It to Me: 15 Uses for Old Socks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-an-easter-basket-for-a-grown-man">How to Make an Easter Basket for a Grown Man</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-awesome-uses-for-milk-crates">20 Awesome Uses for Milk Crates</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Lifestyle car maintenance cost cutting house cleaning yard work Thu, 05 Jun 2014 21:00:33 +0000 Kentin Waits 1141612 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Simple Tips to Keep Your Car Running Longer http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-tips-to-keep-your-car-running-longer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-simple-tips-to-keep-your-car-running-longer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/guys_with_old_car.jpg" alt="Two guys with old car" title="Two guys with old car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="170" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you&rsquo;ve ever owned a car for several years &mdash; or just driven one that&rsquo;s several years old &mdash; you know that it takes some work to keep it running. The good news is, how often your car breaks down and how much those repairs cost you are largely within your control. Here&rsquo;s a quick rundown on how to keep your car on the road &mdash; and more money in your pocket. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-mistakes-to-avoid-when-shopping-for-car-insurance">6 Mistakes to&nbsp;Avoid When Shopping for Car Insurance</a>)</p> <h2>Choose the Right Car</h2> <p>Overall, cars are getting more reliable, but there is still a wide range in how much trouble you can expect to have with each one. So, when you&rsquo;re shopping for a new (or, better yet, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/drive-the-old-car-or-buy-a-new-car">previously owned</a>) car, choose one with a reputation for reliability. If you choose a reliable car, you&rsquo;ll be able to spend your money on keeping it running well, rather than just keeping it running. There are many sources that provide this information, such as <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org">Consumer Reports</a>, which ranks most makes and models in terms of short-term and longer-term reliability. If you&rsquo;re really interested in getting the most out of your car, choose a reliable model to begin with.</p> <h2>Don&rsquo;t Be Cheap</h2> <p>You may hate handing your hard-earned cash over to your local mechanic for oil changes, tire rotations, and other maintenance, but spending money on the basics is the best way to avoid major repairs. An oil change costs $30 to $40; if you&rsquo;re an average driver, you&rsquo;ll need two or more each year (every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on your car). The cost of a new engine &mdash; which could be what your car requires if you skip too many oil changes &mdash; is $2,000 to $4,000. You decide. Don&rsquo;t believe me? Check out this <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&amp;NR=1&amp;v=KC-SxrsgEwo">video</a> of what happens to an engine that&rsquo;s gone too many miles without an oil change.</p> <h2>Make a Note of Maintenance Milestones</h2> <p>Car manufacturers provide recommendations on when to complete basic maintenance tasks. You can find this information in your car&rsquo;s owner&rsquo;s manual. Most experts recommend getting your car&rsquo;s transmission fluid flushed every 25,000 miles, while an engine&rsquo;s timing belt should be replaced within 100,000 miles. These are just a few of several maintenance milestones your car will require. Find out what your car&rsquo;s manufacturer recommends and stick to it to avoid more costly issues.</p> <h2>Drive Nicely</h2> <p>Just like stepping lightly in a new pair of shoes can help keep them from showing wear, driving gently can help reduce wear and tear on your car. This means slowing down for big bumps or potholes, taking corners at a reasonable speed, and avoiding putting your foot to the floor before your car has warmed up. Driving hard puts more stress and strain on your car&rsquo;s components. Over time, these &ldquo;joy rides&rdquo; can put your car&rsquo;s condition into an expensive tail spin.</p> <h2>Know Your Dash</h2> <p>You know all those annoying lights that appear on your dash? Usually, they come on to alert you to things that don&rsquo;t signal an emergency for your car, such as a burned out tail light, low on fuel, or that you are not wearing your seat belt. As a result, you might assume these &ldquo;nanny lights&rdquo; can be ignored for while. But while some check-engine lights can be deferred for a day or two while you wait to see your mechanic, there is one light you absolutely cannot ignore, and that&rsquo;s the oil pressure indicator. If this light appears on your dash, you must pull over and stop the car<i> immediately</i>. This light means that your car has suddenly lost oil pressure, which will cause friction and heat to build up in your engine. This can weld your engine together permanently in less than a minute. Unless where you&rsquo;re headed is worth the cost of a new engine, pull over and wait for a tow truck.</p> <h2>Keep It Clean</h2> <p>You may not think that how your car looks has much bearing on how it drives, but this isn&rsquo;t entirely true. Dirt, grit, and the salt used to melt <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snow-patrol-winter-driving-safety-kit-must-haves">road ice</a> in the northern states and Canada can cause damage to your car&rsquo;s paint and undercarriage. This can lead to rust, which can make your car deteriorate faster and, if serious enough, reduce its crash safety. Even in warm, dry climates, dirt can grind down upholstery and leather, wearing out the inside of your car. Just as you&rsquo;ll need a regular schedule for conducting maintenance on your car, you should also make a habit of cleaning it regularly.</p> <p>You don&rsquo;t need to know a lot about cars to keep your car running, but you do need to know a few basics and be informed about what&rsquo;s recommended for the make and model you own. If you treat your car well, it is likely to return the favor in reliability and longevity. Putting regular maintenance into a car that&rsquo;s running just fine can be tough for frugal-minded people, but while you may hate handing that cash over to your mechanic, what really pays his bills are the big repairs only he (or she!) can help you avoid.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-tips-to-keep-your-car-running-longer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-it-cost-every-time-you-get-into-your-car">How Much Does it Cost Every Time you Get Into Your Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cut-car-ownership-costs">How To Cut Car Ownership Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-car-maintenance-with-these-5-diy-tips">Save on Car Maintenance With These 5 DIY Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-hire-a-broker-to-buy-a-car">Should You Hire a Broker to Buy a Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/remove-car-dents-quickly-and-cheaply">Remove Car Dents Quickly and Cheaply</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation car care car maintenance drive old car Wed, 07 Dec 2011 10:48:24 +0000 Tara Struyk 813921 at http://www.wisebread.com Save on Car Maintenance With These 5 DIY Tips http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-car-maintenance-with-these-5-diy-tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-on-car-maintenance-with-these-5-diy-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3643274326_b40b6a422b_b.jpg" alt="car maintenance" title="car maintenance" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may wonder if you're being taken for a ride every time you fork over a wad of cash for a car maintenance procedure that only took the <a title="4 Ways to Find a Reputable Mechanic" href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-find-a-reputable-mechanic">mechanic</a> two minutes. If you're also someone who can't make toast without a fire extinguisher at hand, however, you may think there's no way around it.</p> <p>But truthfully, there are some maintenance tasks that are simple enough for even a novice, so why not save the dough instead? Here are five simple tasks that require only a little time, a little knowledge, and a few specialized tools. (See also: <a title="5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Car Expenses" href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-cut-your-car-expenses">5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Car Expenses</a>)</p> <h2>1. Change Your Windshield Wiper Blades</h2> <p>Don't you hate the screech of worn-out windshield wiper blades and the streaks they leave behind on your car's windshield? Well hate no more, because changing them is a snap.</p> <p>Usually there's no cost for the labor involved in changing a windshield wiper blade, but that's because you buy the blades at the auto shop. By replacing them at home, you can scout around for a deal first. And lo and behold, <a title="Advance Auto Parts" href="http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/home___">Advance Auto Parts</a> currently cuts 20% off sitewide via coupon code &quot;P20&quot;. (Or click for a list of additional <a title="Advance Auto Parts coupons" href="http://dealnews.com/Advance-Auto-Parts-coupons-20-off-no-minimum-10-off-30-more-/484744.html?eref=wisebread">dollar-off codes</a>.)</p> <p><strong>Tools You'll Need:</strong> A flat-blade screwdriver.</p> <p><strong>Parts You'll Need:</strong> New windshield wiper blades (obviously), but don't forget the rear window blade if you have one. Be aware that the two front windshield blades could be different sizes. Know your make, model, and year of your car before buying. Also, you might as well buy a gallon of windshield wiper fluid while you're at it.</p> <p><strong>The Fix:</strong> Most windshield wiper blades snap on and off. First, pull the blade upright, so that it stands clear of your windshield. At the midpoint, you'll see where it hinges into a crook. There should be a release pin or clip there that you can push or pry up; use the screwdriver if you have to pry.</p> <p>Once you do this, the blade should slide out and be free of the crook. Insert the new blade into the crook the same way the old one was oriented, then push until it locks. Lower the blade assembly to the windshield, and you're done. It's that simple.</p> <p>Then fill your windshield washer reservoirs. There will be one in the engine compartment, usually near the rear. If you have a rear window wiper, there may be a separate reservoir that you will need to fill in the back of the vehicle.</p> <h2>2. Replace Your Fuses</h2> <p>The electrical system in a car has numerous fuses designed to burn out when the current spikes, protecting more expensive systems in your car. If something on your car abruptly quits working, such as your car radio, headlights, or wipers, you may have a blown fuse. Luckily, these are usually a snap to replace.</p> <p><strong>Tools You'll Need:</strong> A pair of pliers, or even better, a plier-like device known as a <a title="fuse puller" href="http://www.amazon.com/Littelfuse-Fuse-Puller-00970023Xp-Holders/dp/B002NZUJW4/ref=lh_ni_t">fuse puller</a>. A <a title="flashlight" href="http://www.meritline.com/5-in-1-led-flashlight---p-35832.aspx">flashlight</a> might also come in handy.</p> <p><strong>Parts You'll Need:</strong> Replacement fuses are dirt cheap; this bundle of fuses ranges from 5 to 30 amps. Check your owner's manual for the correct type for your car. (Most use blade mini-fuses.)</p> <p><strong>The Fix:</strong> First, make sure the car is turned off. Then, consult your owner's manual to locate which fuse controls the system that's not working properly. Unfortunately, the fuse box is often positioned under the dashboard, requiring some yoga-like contortions to view.</p> <p>Once you locate the fuse you suspect is bad, pull it and examine it closely; if the wire running through the center of the fuse is broken, it's bad and you should replace it with one rated for the same amperage. But regardless, when in doubt, replace it; the per-unit cost of the fuses is negligible.</p> <h2>3. Replace Your Air Filter</h2> <p>A dirty air filter is to your car what pneumonia is to your body, and it robs your car of air and reduces your mileage. Replacing it is a very cheap way to make your ride more efficient.</p> <p><strong>Tools You'll Need:</strong> A flat-blade screwdriver and an adjustable wrench. The <a title="adjustable wrench" href="http://www.amazon.com/Stanley-85-610-10-Inch-MaxGrip-Adjustable/dp/product-description/B00009OYGZ/">Stanley 10&quot; MaxGrip Locking Adjustable Wrench</a> is a good all-purpose tool for working on cars.</p> <p><strong>Parts You'll Need:</strong> A replacement air filter for your make, model, year, and size of engine.</p> <p><strong>The Fix:</strong> Check your owner's manual for the location of your filter. It may be covered with a plastic shroud that is held down by a few plastic clips that you can flip, or it may be held in place with a nut on a long screw. Either way, remove the cover, and you should find the filter lying loose. Simply pick it up and put the replacement filter in the same position. Then replace the cover. Job done. Did we mention these were <em>simple</em> tasks?</p> <h2>4. Replace Your Battery</h2> <p>Many companies such as Autozone will <a title="battery test" href="http://www.autozone.com/autozone/landing/page.jsp?name=car-battery-summer-preparation">test your current battery</a> free of charge (no pun intended), so you have no excuse if you're stranded on a cold February night because you put off testing and installing a new one.</p> <p><strong>Tools You'll Need:</strong> A wire brush, like this <a target="battery brush" href="http://www.amazon.com/Lisle-11120-Battery-Brush/dp/B0009OMY92/">Lisle Battery Brush</a>, and an adjustable wrench.</p> <p><strong>Parts You'll Need:</strong> A new battery. Your parts store will help you select a battery that matches your car's requirements. Check to see if you can drop off the old one for recycling when you've finished replacing it.</p> <p><strong>The Fix:</strong> Turn off your car. Pop the hood, and, using your car's manual, locate the battery. It may be under a plastic housing, but most likely it will be conveniently placed.</p> <p>There are two cables connected to your battery: a black one (the ground, or negative) and a red one (the positive pole). Using the adjustable wrench, loosen and disconnect the black one first and pull it away, then disconnect the red one. Lift the battery out of the housing and set it aside. Keep it oriented upright, especially if it's not a sealed unit.</p> <p>Using your wire brush, clean the metal terminals of the black and red cables, both inside the clamp and outside. If they're corroded or dirty, clean them with a solution of baking soda and water.</p> <p>Then lower the new battery into position. Once secure, attach the red cable to the positive pole of the battery, then the black cable to the negative pole.</p> <h2><strong> </strong>5. Change Your Oil and Filter</h2> <p>Changing your own oil is not difficult and can save you a little cash to use on your next night out.</p> <p><strong>Tools You'll Need:</strong> An adjustable wrench, an <a title="oil filter wrench" href="http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Best-Universal-Filter-Wrench/dp/B000UD0CTQ">oil filter wrench</a>, an oil drain pan, a funnel, and perhaps a car jack and jack stands, like this <a title="jack stand" href="http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_x_10014620-P_x_x">Torin Jack Stand 2-Pack</a>.</p> <p><strong>Parts You'll Need:</strong> Oil (check how much your car holds), an oil filter, and a drain plug gasket.</p> <p>Before you begin, figure out if you can reach the oil pan drain plug without jacking up your car. The oil pan will be hanging off the bottom of your motor, and the drain plug will be located at the lowest part of it. If you can reach it without jacking your car up, it makes an oil change much easier (and you won't need the aforementioned jack stands).</p> <p>Start by running your car for a few minutes to warm the engine oil; this will allow it to drain more completely and quickly. Park your car on a level surface and engage the parking brake. Then, if necessary, begin by jacking your car up and placing jack stands on either side of the car. Never work under a car supported only by a single jack. Place the oil drain pan beneath the drain plug, then turn the plug counterclockwise with the adjustable wrench until it comes free. Be careful; the oil that comes gushing out will be warm. Let the car drain until it stops.</p> <p>Next, locate the oil filter. Using the oil filter wrench, loosen and remove the filter. Keep it tilted upright until you can empty any oil into the oil pan. Then replace the gasket on the drain plug and screw it into place, taking care to not over-tighten, which will cause the plug gasket to distort and allow oil to leak out. Rub the rubber gasket on the oil filter with a little clean oil for a better seal, then screw into place. If you have a good grip, hand-tightening should be enough. If not, snug it up with the oil filter wrench. Again, don't overdo it.</p> <p>Once the plug and filter are in place, locate the oil filler cap on top of the motor, remove it, and add oil to your engine using a funnel to prevent spillage. When done, use the jack and remove the stands, lowering the car to the ground. Run the car for a couple of minutes, then turn it off and check your dipstick to make sure it's filled to the height indicated. Also check for leaks under your car. Lastly, dispose of dirty oil properly; many oil change shops will accept it for recycling.</p> <p>If you've mastered these simple tasks, you may be ready to take on even more complicated ones, such as flushing and filling your coolant system or replacing your brake shoes. Who knows, maybe you've even tapped your inner grease monkey, and that alternate identity will emerge to save you a lot of money on car repairs.</p> <p>Another way to save? Always check <strong>Dealnews</strong> for discounts while shopping for parts and tools, like the aforementioned <a title="Advance Auto Parts" href="http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/home___">Advance Auto Parts</a> code &quot;P20&quot; that takes 20% off sitewide. (Click for a list of additional <a title="Advance Auto Parts coupons" href="http://dealnews.com/Advance-Auto-Parts-coupons-20-off-no-minimum-10-off-30-more-/484744.html?eref=wisebread">dollar-off codes</a>.)<em> </em></p> <p><em>If you enjoyed this story please share it on StumbleUpon!</em></p> <div align="center"> <p><script src="http://www.stumbleupon.com/hostedbadge.php?s=5"></script></p> </div><div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Some car maintenance tasks are simple enough even for novices. These tasks require only a little time, a little knowledge, and a few tools. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><em>This post is by </em><a href="http://dealnews.com/" title="Dealnews"><em>Dealnews</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dealnews">Dealnews</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-car-maintenance-with-these-5-diy-tips">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/remove-car-dents-quickly-and-cheaply">Remove Car Dents Quickly and Cheaply</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-diy-car-repair-costs-more">When DIY Car Repair Costs More</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-slick-tools-to-save-money-on-car-repairs">6 Slick Tools to Save Money on Car Repairs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-it-cost-every-time-you-get-into-your-car">How Much Does it Cost Every Time you Get Into Your Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-tips-to-keep-your-car-running-longer">6 Simple Tips to Keep Your Car Running Longer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation DIY auto repairs car maintenance oil change Wed, 10 Aug 2011 10:24:16 +0000 Dealnews 652446 at http://www.wisebread.com January: The Perfect Maintenance Month http://www.wisebread.com/january-the-perfect-maintenance-month <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/january-the-perfect-maintenance-month" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/oil_change.jpg" alt="oil change" title="oil change" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="192" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In between doing my own household chores on New Year's Day, I noticed that my husband (a.k.a. Mr. Handyman) seemed very busy.&nbsp;Rather than focus on my own boring list, I decided to pester him and see what he was up to. As it turns out, he was doing his &quot;January 1<sup>st</sup> money-saving stuff.&quot; Why January 1<sup>st</sup>, I wondered? He says it&rsquo;s just because that&rsquo;s a pretty easy date to remember to do his &quot;money-saving annual chores.&quot;</p> <p>I was intrigued and figured he might be doing something I could parlay into a post for Wise Bread readers, a crowd that is also pretty darned interested in money-saving stuff. Don&rsquo;t worry, we&rsquo;re not too late. He says if you don&rsquo;t actually get these things done right on the first day of the year, the system still works, because &ldquo;approximately annually&rdquo; is close enough. Once you get into the annual, first-of-the-year cycle, you can catch everything on time next year.&nbsp;</p> <p>I began by quizzing him while he was underneath his truck. Frankly, he is not much of a conversationalist in that position, but I persisted in the name of thorough reporting. Patiently, he explained that he uses synthetic oil, which is more expensive, but it does not break down over time the way petroleum-based oils do. Thus, because he does not put very many miles on his pickup, he can go for extended periods of time between oil changes. He says he could go even longer than a year, but he always errs on the conservative side when it comes to oil changes. Of course, changing it himself also saves the labor charges. Though he admits that the labor charges for an oil-and-filter change are often not significant, he also reminded me of the several-hundred-dollar repair bill we wound up splitting with a national muffler chain when we had to replace the oil pan on my car, and we weren&rsquo;t confident that we could prove the chain&rsquo;s negligence in cross-threading the oil plug when they replaced it the previous time. He carefully threads the plug in by hand and then tightens it with a torque wrench to the manufacturer&rsquo;s specs, instead of jamming it in with an air wrench the way the muffler shop apparently did. I wish I had taken auto shop in high school.&nbsp;</p> <p>While he had all the tools out and the rubber gloves on, he also changed the oil in the lawnmower, which Briggs &amp; Stratton recommends be done at the lesser of every fifty hours of operation, or (wait for it&hellip;) annually! Since he definitely doesn&rsquo;t mow the lawn every week, and it usually takes less than an hour to mow each time, he changes the oil once a year, near the first of the year. Mr. Handyman says that most small-engine mechanics will tell you that the single best thing you can do to prolong the life of your four-cycle, air-cooled engine is to regularly change the oil. For the cost of less than a quart of oil, the use of a wrench, and a few minutes, you can keep your lawnmower engine purring for years after your neighbors have had to shell out for new ones.</p> <p>To support himself through college, my husband sold tires for a living. That experience taught him the importance of proper tire inflation and wheel alignment in maximizing the life of tires. So he regularly checks the tire pressure on our cars &mdash; about semi-monthly &mdash; to make sure they are inflated to our cars&rsquo; specifications (not, as some people think, to the maximum pressure stamped on the side of the tire). Every set of tires we have owned since we have been married has lasted more than 55,000 miles. He reminded me that we have been married for a very, very, very long time (sarcasm noted). At several hundred dollars per set, that really helps the cause.</p> <p>But there&rsquo;s something else I learned on New Year&rsquo;s Day. Not only did I spy him under the front of his pickup, changing his oil, but also under the rear. I suspected he was trying to ditch me, but he had removed his spare tire from its winch under the truck bed to check its pressure and general condition. After that, he did the same for my car. <em>Somewhat </em>patiently, he explained that if we happened to have a blowout on the mountain road we frequent, we would either need to use that spare or call a tow truck (if we happened to be in an area with cell phone coverage).</p> <p>If he left the spare under there the way many people do, without ever checking it, chances are it would be flat when we needed it &mdash; as he found most of his tire customers&rsquo; spares to be back in his college days. The average car old enough to have worn out a set of tires is also old enough for an unattended spare to have naturally gone flat. So for the cost of only a few cents in electricity to run the compressor while filling the spare, he avoids the potential tow-truck call up the mountain, which could easily run a couple hundred dollars, depending upon the location. You do the math: Even if you have towing insurance, it is reassuring not to be completely dependent upon your cell-phone coverage and a towing company.</p> <p>For his last auto-related New Year&rsquo;s task, he also changed our wiper blades. Because East Hawaii is known for its prodigious rainstorms, wiper blades last just about a year before becoming noticeably less effective.</p> <p>I thought he was trying to ditch me again by going inside the house, but he still had some chores. While putting the Christmas ornaments away in the attic, he paused to change smoke alarm batteries. Most fire marshals recommend that you change smoke alarm batteries every six months. When we lived on the mainland, he changed them at each Daylight Savings Time change. However, the state of Hawaii does not participate in Daylight Savings Time, so his reminder dates are January 1 and July 1. Though this technically isn&rsquo;t a &ldquo;money saver,&rdquo; you can&rsquo;t put a price on having working smoke detectors, should ever need them.</p> <p><em>Readers, if you have other suggestions to add to my husband&rsquo;s New Year&rsquo;s to-do list, I am sure he would like to know!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/january-the-perfect-maintenance-month">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dishwasher-smells-bad-heres-how-to-fix-it">Dishwasher Smells Bad? Here&#039;s How to Fix It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-fridge-last-almost-forever-with-these-8-tips">Make Your Fridge Last (Almost) Forever With These 8 Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-on-car-maintenance-with-these-5-diy-tips">Save on Car Maintenance With These 5 DIY Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">10 Really Easy Ways to Unclog Drains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-wonderful-uses-for-witch-hazel">15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips car maintenance home maintenance oil change smoke alarms Fri, 07 Jan 2011 14:00:10 +0000 Marla Walters 439127 at http://www.wisebread.com How To Cut Car Ownership Costs http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cut-car-ownership-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-cut-car-ownership-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4173667148_02075de882_z.jpg" alt="cars" title="cars" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many people I know are car fanatics who love the idea of owning a trendy new car. I've seen family and friends beam with pride when they show off a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-joy-of-buying-a-new-car-9-car-buying-tips">new car purchase</a>, eager to have me join them in that celebratory spin around the block.</p> <p>But whenever I find myself inhaling that new car smell as I sit in the passenger's seat, I often remind myself (secretly, of course) of what it costs to buy a new car. It is during occasions like this that I weigh the costs of a car purchase with the benefits of keeping and maintaining a vehicle over time. After all, it's always a good idea to work out ways to keep those costs low, as a vehicle usually turns out to be one of the largest expenses you'll make in your lifetime. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-simple-ways-to-cut-your-car-expenses">5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Car Expenses</a>)</p> <p>So how does one go about shopping for a car?</p> <p>Financial savvy folks will recommend that you first budget for it (this YNAB review describes a great budgeting system you can try). Then shop for and find a used (1-2 year old) car that you could either pay cash for completely, or for at least a portion of the purchase price. Since new vehicles depreciate approximately 15 to 20 percent per year, that&rsquo;s a huge chunk of change that you can clip off the selling price right off the bat. That saves you an average of $3,000-4,000 that you would otherwise finance or pay for upfront for a spanking new 2010 vehicle. Is it worth it? Here are a few things to consider to keep the costs of car ownership low.</p> <h3>1. Keep your car as long as you can.</h3> <p>According to polls, most Americans plan to keep their new vehicles for approximately <a href="http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=146894">5.5 years after purchasing</a> it. This means that essentially, a new $20,000 car will cost you an amortized $3,636 per year over a span of 5.5 years if you pay for it in full upon purchase (the cost excludes maintenance and gas costs). Now if you finance the vehicle for 100% of the purchase price on a 4 year note, say at a 6% interest rate, you would pay $22,543.63 for a $20,000 vehicle. That means that it would cost you $4,099.20 per year if you finance the vehicle. That&rsquo;s actually not a huge difference when comparing a cash purchase to financing your vehicle. What actually makes the biggest financial difference? It's the price of the car you purchase and the length of time that you end up keeping it.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s use some more math to illustrate this point, albeit with a simplistic example. Suppose you decide to apply a strict budget as you bargain shop for a slightly used vehicle. You could very well acquire a new set of wheels for around $15,000, down from the $20,000 on a new car. And if you decide to hold on to it for around 8 years (an additional 2.5 years above the average length of time that households keep their vehicles) then you would be paying just $1,875 per year to own that car (again, minus the maintenance and gas costs). Not bad!</p> <p>Note that the annual cost of owning a vehicle goes down based on a car's initial purchase price and the length of time you decide to keep the car. That is, it becomes cheaper to own a car the longer you own it. It seems obvious but anyone can save money when car shopping by simply going for the more affordable option (forget upgrades). And you'll save even more by simply holding on to your car for longer.</p> <h3>2. Pay off your car loan faster.</h3> <p>Everyone knows that the greatest savings are made by avoiding any form of financing on a purchase, especially a large one. But if you can't afford a car unless you finance or get a personal loan, then keep in mind that you'll save the most by paying off your loan sooner.</p> <p>I touched on this matter earlier, but it's worth repeating: by skipping on financing, you'll save on having to pay off the interest on your loan. As an example, a $20,000 car with a 4 year loan at a 6% interest rate will require a $469.70 a month payment over a span of 4 years. The interest you'll pay here is $2,545.63 which you wouldn't need to pay if you just set aside enough in your high yield savings account to afford the vehicle in full.</p> <h3>3. Consider the maintenance costs of your vehicle.</h3> <p>Some car sites <a href="http://www.automobilemag.com/used_car_costs/index.html">have numbers</a> that will give you an idea about the financial cost of owning popular vehicles. For instance, there is a huge difference in the 5-year ownership cost between a Hyundai Elantra and a Toyota Sequoia. A $29,784 difference to be exact. That&rsquo;s a lot of money that could be invested in an online broker account or used elsewhere. How much is your vehicle worth to you? This may be an opportune time to rethink that question.</p> <h3>4. Maintain your vehicle well.</h3> <p>How do we <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-tips-to-keep-your-car-running-longer">keep our cars running well</a> and ready for the long haul? The life of your car depends on its maintenance record and general upkeep. But if you want to extend that life, it may be as simple as just treating your vehicle as though you plan to use it for 8 to 10 years. Keeping the interior and exterior clean keeps it free from rust and deterioration. Keeping the oil/oil filter, transmission fluid, tires, brake fluid, air filter, and other essentials changed in accordance with the maintenance manual ensures that the engine and key parts are in good working order. When in doubt, do these things more often than required, rather than later than required. The more you baby your vehicle, the better off you will be.</p> <p>Think about what you could buy with the financial savings you get from just keeping your vehicle an extra 3 years. Could it all add up to be the equivalent of your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-saving-for-your-childs-college-education">child&rsquo;s college education</a>? Or a more padded 401k? How about all those vacations that you&rsquo;ve always dreamed of? Or a nice home addition?</p> <p>By being a savvy car shopper and owner, you can very well free up your money to do a lot more for you!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/silicon-valley-blogger">Silicon Valley Blogger</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-cut-car-ownership-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-hire-a-broker-to-buy-a-car">Should You Hire a Broker to Buy a Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-buying-a-new-car-and-be-happy">How to Save Money Buying a New Car and Be Happy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-new-tires-really-6-year-old-ticking-time-bombs">Are your new tires really 6-year old ticking time-bombs?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cheap-ways-to-make-your-car-look-awesome">12 Cheap Ways to Make Your Car Look Awesome</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation car maintenance car ownership car shopping Cars Sun, 04 Apr 2010 17:00:05 +0000 Silicon Valley Blogger 6178 at http://www.wisebread.com How Much Does it Cost Every Time you Get Into Your Car? http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-it-cost-every-time-you-get-into-your-car <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-much-does-it-cost-every-time-you-get-into-your-car" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cost of gas factor.jpg" alt="gas" title="gas" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">I recently found myself living out in the <a target="_blank" href="http://freedom30.blogspot.com/2008/07/weve-died-and-gone-to-kingbilli.html">countryside</a> near Melbourne Australia. And aside from gas being referred to as &ldquo;petrol&rdquo; among other <a target="_blank" href="http://freedom30.blogspot.com/2008/07/more-things-that-make-australia-unique.html">Australian idiosyncrasies</a>, living out here could be equated with life in the countryside just about anywhere:</p> <ul> <li>Anything within 50 kilometers (31 miles) is considered &ldquo;close&rdquo;</li> <li>You have to drive to get anywhere (sometimes including your own front gate)</li> <li>The cost of living can be more expensive (depending on how judicious and creative you are)</li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">And last but certainly not least:</p> <ul> <li>You will spend a small fortune on gas. Petrol. Whatever.</li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Here in Australia, if the price of gas is much below $1.50/liter (the equivalent of about $5.68 /gallon), people practically dance in the streets with joy; it regularly hovers at a price point much higher. And so one day driving back from running some errands in town on a week when I had traveled into town more than I would have liked, I glanced down in shock at my gas gauge: empty. It seemed that I had consumed more gas in the last week than I had realized.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">This led me to a minor budgeting revelation: Every time I travel into town, I spend almost $10 in gas. This was a shock to the system; if there was a bus, I would have happily taken it to be sure. But out here, no such thing exists. (Such is the price you pay to live in the country; a price happily paid by most who live here).</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">This revelation led to an immediate change in attitude towards driving:</p> <ul> <li>Carpooling is now an active goal, if not a necessity (not only for the environment, but also better value when driving).</li> <li>A trip into town doesn&rsquo;t happen unless at least three separate and important tasks can be achieved.</li> <li>Mail order is king!</li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">When I started to even more closely examine the cost of gas/petrol, I realized how much more there is to driving: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/auto-insurance">insurance</a>, maintenance, and wear &amp; tear for starters. If I averaged out the cost of these factors and added them into each trip into town, my excursion shoots up even further to approximately $13.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">$13 just to go into town; to get some groceries, make a social call, or see the dentist. That&rsquo;s not pennies. And here&rsquo;s the corker: Although I live in the country, town is not all that far away, and it is all highway driving.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">How many people who live in the city (or a bedroom community) commute 20 miles or more to work, and in stop &amp; go traffic no less (which increases the cost of gas and wear &amp; tear)?</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">How many people who live in the city (and commute in their cars) actually pay higher <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/auto-insurance-rates">insurance premiums</a> to do so?</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">How many people who live either in the city or the country don&rsquo;t think about all this every time they get into their car?</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">So the next time you say you&rsquo;ll just &ldquo;hop in the car&rdquo; to nip off somewhere, think about how much that little trip will cost you. You may decide in the end that the trip doesn&rsquo;t have to happen today, or that maybe you can kill two birds with one stone by adding another errand to your list.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">At the very least, it pays (literally) to figure out for yourself how much it costs every time you get in your car. Only then can you make a rational frugal decision as to whether or not putting the key in the ignition this time will fit into your budget, and not just a life of convenience.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-does-it-cost-every-time-you-get-into-your-car">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-smart-ways-to-boost-your-gas-mileage">11 Smart Ways to Boost Your Gas Mileage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-if-energy-costs-keep-rising">What if energy costs keep rising?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-hire-a-broker-to-buy-a-car">Should You Hire a Broker to Buy a Car?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year">How to Save an Extra $1,094.86 a Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-youre-a-good-driver">9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You&#039;re a Good Driver</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Cars and Transportation car insurance car maintenance commuting cost of gas cost of petrol driving Thu, 28 Aug 2008 02:00:10 +0000 Nora Dunn 2374 at http://www.wisebread.com