1. Brake Pads
It seems like common sense: Don't neglect your car's brakes. Still, when it's time to replace your car's
brake pads, it's easy to look the other way. For one thing, brake pads tend to wear gradually, so you
might not notice changes in your braking performance right away. Secondly, a car with worn brake
pads will still stop -- just not as well. So what's the harm in saving some money and holding off?
It turns out the harm in not replacing your brake pads is about $400. When your brake pads are
worn, they can cause damage to brake rotors. As the rotors rub against the worn pads, they become
warped, which makes it tougher to stop the car (if you feel your car shudder as you brake, you
probably have warped rotors). Fixing the rotors requires that they be turned or smoothed out --
something that requires a mechanic and can run over $100 per rotor. If the rotors need to be
replaced, you'll end up spending four times what it would have cost to replace the brake pads.
2. Oil Change
An oil change should cost you around $40 at most quick oil change stations. And that same station
will probably tell you to come back in three months or 3,000 miles. But do you have to? It depends.
That old rule of thumb still applies to some cars, but others can go much longer between oil changes.
To find out how long your car can go between changes, read your owner's manual.
After you've found out the oil change interval for your car, follow it. Oil is like your engine's blood.
But unlike your blood, all sorts of impurities build up in unless your oil is changed regularly -- not to
mention that all engines lose some oil. Too much buildup and not enough oil lead to your engine
seizing up. Sure, you can save $40 by putting off an oil change, but you could end up spending
$4,000 on a new engine.
3. Air Filter
Changing an air filter is cheap. It's even easy enough for most people to do themselves. Not changing
your car's air filter, on the other hand, is expensive. According to the EPA, a dirty air filter can reduce
fuel economy by up to 10 percent simply because your engine won't breathe as efficiently. By not
changing a dirty air filter, you'll save about $30. But, if your car is supposed to get 25 miles per
gallon, and gas is $2.50 a gallon, those savings have evaporated by the time you've driven about 150
Even worse, if the air filter isn't clean and that means enough air isn't getting to the engine, you could
foul your spark plugs and might have to replace them. Depending on your engine, that can cost
anywhere from $100 to $300. Now, spending $30 for a new air filter doesn't sound so bad, does it?
An accurate wheel alignment is critical to balance the treadwear and performance a vehicle's tires
deliver. Regular wheel alignments will usually save you as much in tire wear as they cost, and should
be considered routine, preventative maintenance. While it's often referred to simply as an alignment
or wheel alignment, it's really complex suspension angles that are being measured and a variety of
suspension components that are being adjusted. This makes an alignment an important
suspension-tuning tool that greatly influences the operation of the vehicle's tires. Incorrect alignment
settings will usually result in more rapid tire wear. Therefore, alignments should be checked whenever
new tires or suspension components are installed, and any time unusual tire wear patterns appear.
Alignments should also be checked after the vehicle has encountered a major hazard or curb.
5. Tire Rotation
An important part of maintaining your car is rotating the tires to extend the life of the tires and to
ensure safe driving. The tread forms a rough surface on the tire and if it's wearing smooth in certain
spots but looks fairly new on others, it is time to rotate the tires to alleviate some of the pressure on
the worn spots. When done at the recommended times, it can preserve balanced handling and
traction and even out tire wear. Tire rotation can even provide performance advantages. We
recommend that tires be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles even if they don't show signs of wear.
Tire rotation can often be done with oil change intervals while the vehicle is off the ground. This can
also be a good time to inspect the tires for any damage, remove stones or debris from the tire treads,
check for uneven wear by checking the tire tread depth and of course, checking your tire pressure.