40 Tips For Cost-Effective Car Care

Over a lengthy period of time, maintaining your car can become a very expensive endeavor. From cleaning it to fixing any damage to the bodywork, these procedures have the potential to exact a heavy toll on your wallet. So with that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 40 hacks that could save you plenty of money.

40) Stop idling

During our various car journeys, there will be times when the vehicle needs to come to a stop due to a build-up of traffic. On those occasions, we usually keep the engine running, but that could cause problems in the future. That’s because idling creates increased oil pressure, which can be bad for your vehicle.

39) Clean the windshield with club soda

Unsurprisingly, cars will get dirty following long periods of use, especially the windshield. Your first thought might be to take the vehicle into the car wash, but there’s a cheaper way to clear off the muck. Indeed, if you spray your windows with a bit of club soda and then give them a wipe, they’ll look as good as new.

38) Stop revving the engine

When we turn on the car’s ignition, we can sometimes feel the urge to rev it up. However, if we want to preserve the long-term health of our vehicle’s inner workings, that’s probably not the best of ideas. By putting our foot down on the accelerator at that point, it essentially ages the engine.

37) Cover scratches with nail varnish


For some unfortunate drivers, there will come a time when their cars pick up a scratch or two. Thankfully, though, you can solve the issue without breaking the bank. All you need to do is get hold of some nail varnish that matches the color of the bodywork and paint over the unwanted marks.

36) Maintain your tire pressure

This is an interesting one. If you didn’t know, your tire pressure can actually dictate the car’s fuel efficiency. In fact, researcher Bo Saulsbury has claimed that good levels will boost the distance traveled by more than 3 percent. So with that in mind, it might be a good idea to keep your eyes on the wheels, as it could save you money on gas.

35) Clear the dashboard with olive oil


While it might seem like a lot of work, maintaining your car’s interior is absolutely vital. After all, who wants to sit in a messy vehicle for hours on end? On that note, there’s a simple way to make the dashboard gleam. You just need to get a container of olive oil, and then scrub it on the surface with an absorbent material.

34) Go neutral at the lights

When we stop at a set of traffic lights, it can be easy to leave the car in gear. But by doing that, we’re adding unnecessary pressure to the engine, which isn’t a good thing in the long term. Instead, we should put the vehicle in neutral, regardless of how long we’ll be waiting there.

33) Fix your engine with a Pringles can


Should something go wrong with your car’s engine, you can’t help but fear the worst, especially when it comes to the cost of fixing it. However, you might be able to save a bit of cash by driving it to the mechanic yourself. So, for instance, if one of the pipes stopped working, you could temporarily replace it with a Pringles container.

32) Stop hard braking

If you often hit the brakes with force when you’re out in your vehicle, you might want to think about dialing it back. To explain why, Kelley Blue Book’s Alec Gutierrez spoke with Money.com in 2015. “If you’re able to save changing brake pads three or four times, it could equal between $600 and $1,000 in savings over the life of the car,” he said.

31) Rotate the tires


While maintaining the car’s tire pressure can save us money on gas, there’s something else we need to consider as well. Indeed, we’re also advised to “rotate” the wheels every six months or so. Doing so ensures that the rubber doesn’t wear away in a solitary area, which in turns extends its lifespan on the road.

30) Don’t overload your keychain

Bear with us on this one. As many of you will no doubt attest, it’s very tempting to add a bunch of extra attachments to a keychain. Surprisingly, though, the additional mass may take its toll on the ignition over a period of time. In the end, that might lead to a repair bill you could’ve easily avoided.

29) Clear stains with baking soda


Whether it’s the driver or one of their passengers, spillages can happen inside a car if people aren’t too careful. Are you one of those individuals? If so, there may be a cost-effective solution to removing the resulting stains. All you need to do is blend some water and baking soda together, before wiping the dirty mark with it.

28) Don’t cruise above 50 mph

When we’re out on the open road, we of course sometimes reach speeds of over 50 mph. But as it turns out, that can have a pretty negative effect on our fuel efficiency. “You can think of it like this,” Saulsbury told Money.com. “Every 5 mph you drive above 50 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon of gas.”

27) Park up in the shade


After driving to our required destination, we don’t always have the best parking options. However, instead of opting for a spot in the sun’s glare, we should consider stopping in a shadier area, even if it’s further away. By doing that, the inside of the car receives a bit more protection from harmful UV rays.

26) Protect the doors with cooking spray

When the winter months roll in, we need to ensure that our vehicles are protected from sharp bouts of frost. One of the more unorthodox methods in that regard involves busting out a can of cooking spray. For you see, a couple of squirts around the car doors stops them from freezing shut.

25) Clear dead insects with dryer sheet


As we suggested earlier, a trip to the car wash might be tempting when your vehicle becomes dirty. And the urge will only intensify when part of that muck is made up of dead bugs. If you want to save some cash, though, the insects can be removed at home by rubbing them off with a damp dryer sheet.

24) Protect your leather seats

Whether they’re in your living room or inside your car, leather seats do have a tendency to crack if you don’t look after them. So to avoid that issue, you just have to follow some simple steps. You need to first clean your vehicle’s chairs ahead of using a “leather protectant.”

23) Change your own light bulbs


The lights inside our cars can be quite useful, especially if we need to look for something that’s dropped beneath the seats. But what happens when the bulb breaks? Thankfully, it’s an issue we can solve ourselves for very little outlay. A car light costs under $10, while step-by-step online video guides are completely free.

22) Polish your car with hair conditioner

Yes, you read that right. More often than not, when our cars require polishing, we’ll purchase a specialist product to do the job. But we could save quite a bit of money by simply opening up a bathroom cabinet. As it turns out, hair conditioner can leave a welcome sheen on the vehicle’s bodywork.

21) Warm up your dents with a hair dryer


While scratches on the bodywork are bad enough, dents can be even worse to deal with. Despite the feelings of dread they can elicit, though, you might be able to deal with a single dent yourself. To begin with, you’re advised to warm up the area with a hair dryer, before applying a blast with an air duster. The bump should subsequently fix itself.

20) Change out your own oil

Under normal circumstances, an oil change will set us back by in excess of $50 at an auto shop. However, if we want to tighten the purse strings, we could do the job at home for under $10. All we’d need is the new fuel and an online guide to help us through the process.

19) Don’t panic if your car gets stuck


During bouts of bad weather, the roads can become increasingly treacherous. On that note, cars have the potential to get lodged in the resulting sludge. If you’re ever in such a situation, try not to force your vehicle out of it, as you could cause untold harm to the gearbox and clutch. Just accept that you should call for some assistance.

18) Ease off the air conditioning

Summer can be a difficult period for drivers, as the warm weather makes cars uncomfortable. Due to the heat, the vehicle’s air conditioning comes in very handy, but you might want to consider rationing your use of it. That’s because the feature will add to your fuel consumption, so you could save some cash by just rolling down the windows.

17) Protect the windshield from ice


As we mentioned earlier, there are measures you can take to protect your car from the wintry elements. While cooking spray will stop the doors from freezing shut, your windshield is just as vulnerable to the conditions. So if you want to avoid any issues, you should simply drape a bit of durable material over it.

16) Don’t jar the steering wheel during hard turns

This is another interesting one. Unsurprisingly, we need to turn the car’s steering wheel in an all manner of different positions when we’re out driving. However, if we jar it in a certain place for a significant period, the “power-steering pump” will stop working, meaning we’ll have to foot a repair bill.

15) Look at your owner’s manual


Have you ever found yourself in a position where you didn’t know about the placement of the spare tire? Well, we’ve got some news for you. The owner’s manual that came with your car contains that information, alongside some other helpful tidbits. In the grand scheme of things, then, that book might save you a lot of cash.

14) Clear off bumper stickers with newspaper

Bumper stickers add a layer of personality to our vehicles, but after a while we may want a change. That can be easier said than done, though, as they’re fairly tricky to get rid of. Thankfully, there’s a cost-effective way to complete the job, and it involves wet newspaper. All we need to do is place the latter over the bumper, leave it for a while and then pull it away.

13) Fix a dent with your toilet plunger


As we highlighted before, there are some rather unorthodox ways to mend a car dent. And alongside hair dryers and air dusters, toilet plungers can now be added to the list as well. Thanks to the suction that this utensil generates, you might manage to pop out the prang after a few plunges.

12) Slow down in bad weather

When we’re caught out in bad weather, we try to get home as quickly as possible. That can potentially influence our driving, too, as we attempt to navigate the conditions in a speedy fashion. However, doing so will put the engine under severe pressure, which could lead to some costly issues going forward.

11) Change your own air filter


Much like the tires and the air conditioning, air filters can have an impact on your gas mileage as well. If you’re wondering why, it’s because an older filter isn’t as effective at protecting your vehicle’s innards from grime. Thankfully, though, you should be able to swap it out with a new one in no time at all.

10) Don’t accelerate too quickly

If you’ve just purchased a new car, we have some important advice to share with you. Initially, you shouldn’t hit the accelerator too quickly, as that can set the tone for your fuel consumption. It’s an easy thing to miss, of course, yet it could save you lots of money on gas in the future.

9) Clean your windshield with a razor blade


A little earlier, we revealed that you could clean your windshield with a dash of club soda. But should you not have that beverage in your house, there’s another method that you can put into practice. Indeed, a single razor blade should be enough to scratch the muck away. And don’t worry – your glass will be free from scuffs as well.

8) Keep an eye on the transmission fluid

This is an important point to consider. A car’s transmission fluid keeps that part of the vehicle ticking over, and should be examined every so often. When you come to do so, you need to see if the liquid gives off a brown color. That means the part needs to be washed out in an auto shop, otherwise it could give out completely, which would leave you facing a bill of thousands of dollars for a replacement.

7) Don’t ignore the dash lights


When we’re on the road, it can sometimes be easy to block certain things out. However, when it comes to the dash lights, that’s something we really shouldn’t be doing. Whether it’s the engine monitor or another flashing marker, we have to check out what’s wrong as soon as possible. Again, it could end up saving us a big financial outlay.

6) Cut down on short trips

Do you often find yourself making a number of short trips each day? If so, then you might want to hear this. Every time a car starts up, it endures a degree of “wear and tear” that could have an impact in the longer term. Therefore, you can do your engine a big favor by cutting down on those journeys.

5) Clean your headlights with toothpaste


Want another reason to avoid the car wash? As it turns out, you already have the perfect tool to clear away any grime from your headlights in the bathroom. Yes, a tube of toothpaste will spruce up the lights at the front of your vehicle, just like it does with your teeth.

4) Always use floor mats

It’s sometimes easy to forget about the layer of carpet inside our vehicles. Unfortunately, though, that can lead the material to erode away after a time, so it might need replacing. But to stop that from happening, all we need to do is place some mats in the car.

3) Protect your car from the Sun


As we mentioned earlier, parking your car in the shade can protect the interior from the sun’s UV rays. What about the bodywork, though? Is that shielded in the same way? If you’re concerned, you could purchase a cover that drapes over the entire vehicle, which will preserve the car’s color in the summer.

2) Clean your car battery

The car battery is a vital component that keeps our vehicles running. But did you know that we can actually clean it? Indeed, with a wire brush in hand, we can scrape away any dirt that might hinder its functioning. In turn, that could potentially save us in the region of $100 for a replacement.

1) Get rid of rust with Coca-Cola


To round things off, here’s another unorthodox money-saver. Incredibly, a bottle of Coca-Cola is the ideal tool to tackle the rust on your car. For you see, the fizzy beverage is acidic, making it powerful enough to wash away the unwanted marks. Before you know it, then, the vehicle could look as good as new.