- Open the glove compartment. Your owner’s manual knows better than your brother how often you should perform maintenance tasks on your specific car, and whether you need pricey synthetic oil or premium gasoline (you probably don’t). Never go to the shop without reading this first.
- Change your oil. “Oil is the lifeblood of your car,” Johnson says, so keeping it running smooth is critical. But changing more often than your manual recommends is a waste of money. Newer cars can go 7,500-10,000 miles between changes. (Hint: ballpark it based on your commute, mark your calendar, and budget $25-$60 per change.)
Other important to-dos:
- Let it breathe. When your air filters get dirty, your engine uses more gasoline. Replace filters every 15,000 miles ($30-$70).
- Get a grip. Rotate your tires every other oil change and keep them inflated to the right pressure (check your manual). Too high and the treads will wear faster. Too low, and you’ll waste more gas per mile ($15-$30).
- Take notes. Not only will a record of service visits help you track your spending, but a car with a conscientious owner impresses potential buyers.