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How to save money after you’ve bought the car.

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Between rebates and low rates, there are plenty of ways to save when buying a car. But what about afterward?

There are plenty of ways to save when buying a car: rebates, low rates, good negotiation and the like. But the savings don’t have to end once you drive off the lot. Here are some key car maintenance and repair considerations to help you save on the car or cars you already own.

Maintenance: saving before something goes wrong.

One of the best ways to save money on your vehicle, over the long run, is regular, preventative maintenance. By keeping your car’s parts and systems in good working order, you can help avoid costly repairs in the future.

In terms of maintenance schedule, it can be helpful to follow the mileage-based manufacturer’s guidelines. Pay particular attention to how often the manufacturer’s guidelines recommend oil changes. Regularly changed oil keeps your car’s parts in good working order. Other considerations include:

  • Air and fuel filter replacements
  • Spark plug replacements
  • Lubrication of drivetrain parts
  • Fluid changes: power steering, transmission, brakes and radiator

One other key maintenance consideration: if your car is under a manufacturer’s warranty, follow the warranty’s guidelines to stay covered. This can really help you save on parts replacements.

Repairs: saving after something goes wrong.

Though comparing hourly rates is an obvious place to start your shopping, they may not tell the whole savings story. That’s because you also want to look for a reliable, high-quality repair service. Here are some key considerations, beyond price, on how to figure out where to take your car for repairs.

1. Warranty. Speaking of warranties, if your car is under warranty, it’s usually best to take it to the dealership for repairs. Assuming you’ve been compliant with the warranty guidelines, you could get substantially discounted or free repairs. If your car is not under warranty, it can pay to think outside the dealership. Consider taking your car for repairs to a local independent or nationally branded service.

2. Trusted advice. Getting advice from people you trust is a great way to go. Ask family members, friends, co-workers, or trusted members of your community. Word-of-mouth recommendations can save you a lot of money and time.

3. Certifications. Do the service providers your considering have certifications? If so, they should be on display or available for review. One important certification to look for is ASE, which is issued by the non-profit National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.

The above is meant as a starting guide, rather than a comprehensive list. Hopefully, though, it gets you thinking about the types of things you should be looking for. After all, a little planning can go a long way toward getting the most out of your vehicle and paying the least toward its maintenance.

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