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    The Top Choice for Car Maintenance Under $100

    Taking care of your car is just as important as taking care of your health. Just like you eat well, exercise, and wash your hands to prevent getting sick, you should also take preventative steps to maintain your car. By properly maintaining your car, you can extend its lifespan and avoid costly repairs. Here are some simple ways to keep your car in good running condition and save money on expensive repairs.

    Use Synthetic Motor Oil:
    Investing a little extra money in synthetic oil for your oil changes is worth it. Synthetic oil breaks down differently than regular oil and can withstand higher temperatures. It can reach certain spots in your engine that regular oil can’t, which makes it better for newer cars. Synthetic oil is recommended for newer vehicles, so make sure to use the right oil for your car.

    Buy Brand Gasoline When Possible:
    Opt for branded fuel instead of the cheapest gas from any gas station. Branded fuel contains detergents and additives that help protect your car’s seals, injectors, and valves. While it may cost a bit more, using branded gasoline can prevent costly repairs down the line.

    Check the Air Filter:
    Regularly check your car’s air filter and replace it if necessary. A clean air filter helps keep the spark plugs running optimally and ensures that your engine gets the right amount of air flow. Most air filters cost between $20 and $75, so it’s an affordable maintenance step. Replace your air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles for best results.

    Use Fuel Tank Cleaner:
    Consider using a fuel tank cleaner to extend your car’s life and improve gas mileage. Chevron Techtron is a recommended option that helps remove harmful carbon deposits from critical engine parts. It can enhance your gas mileage, fuel economy, and power. Follow the instructions on the label regarding when to add it to your tank and how much to use.

    Heed Small Problems:
    Don’t ignore minor issues with your car, as they often lead to bigger and more expensive problems. Pay attention to any unusual noises, underinflated tires, or subtle pulls to the left or right. These signs may seem insignificant, but addressing them promptly can prevent major repairs down the road.

    Get an OBD II Scanner:
    Investing in an OBD II scanner can save you money by identifying and reading out codes to help diagnose problems. The ANCEL AD310 Universal OBD II Scanner is a recommended option. It can help you determine the cause of the check engine light and identify issues like a loose gas cap or hose. You can purchase cheaper versions and search online for code readout meanings. This tool can save you from unnecessary trips to the mechanic.

    Drive Like You’re Behind Your Mom:
    Your driving style directly affects your car’s lifespan. Aggressive driving increases heat in the engine, transmission, brakes, and tires, which can significantly reduce their lifespan. Avoid accelerating or braking harshly, and refrain from aggressive driving habits that put excessive strain on your vehicle.

    Avoid Traffic When You Can:
    While avoiding traffic isn’t always possible, frequently subjecting your car to stop-and-go traffic can wear down engine parts, brakes, and filters faster. It also decreases your car’s fuel economy due to idling. If you have the time, consider taking less congested routes occasionally to reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.

    Top Off Your Fluids:
    Regularly check and fill up your car’s fluids to keep it running well. Monitor the motor oil level and top it off if necessary. Additionally, check the radiator fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. Consult your car’s manual for the specific types and amounts of fluids needed. If you’re not comfortable filling the fluids yourself, ask your mechanic to check and fill them during your next oil change.

    Park in a Garage:
    Whenever possible, park your car in a garage or enclosed space. This protects your vehicle from moisture, rain, humidity, snow, and salt on the road, all of which can lead to rust. Rust can damage the structure and frame of your car, so addressing any signs of rust early is crucial.

    Get Professional Car Washes:
    Make it a point to get professional car washes throughout the year. Regularly rinsing the car’s exterior helps remove dirt, debris, and salt from the engine, sensors, brakes, and undercarriage. A clean car performs better and lasts longer, so investing in car washes is worthwhile.

    By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your car running smoothly and avoid expensive repairs. Remember, prevention is key, and spending a little money on maintenance now can save you a fortune in the long run. Take care of your car just like you would take care of your health, and it will reward you with years of reliable service.

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    This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I’m a Mechanic: The Best $100 You Can Spend on Your Car’s Maintenance

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