Want to avoid getting taken for a ride? Follow these expert directions.
Forget that "every 3,000 miles" rule. A survey by AAA found that 95 percent of drivers had oil changes too frequently. Only heavily used cars, such as taxis, need one after 3,000 miles. Normal usage typically requires an oil change every 7,500 miles, says Perry Stern, editor at MSN Autos.
Shop around. For out-of-pocket repairs that could cost several hundred dollars, get three estimates. Tell each company that you're shopping around so it will quote you au competitive price, says John Paul, resident car expert at AAA, and feel free to haggle.
Stick with the dealership for tricky repairs. It sees the same makes and models, so it can be better than an independent auto shop at fixing, for instance, a mysterious rattle, says Paul.
Fix windshield chips immediately because a small chip can lead to a full crack. A repair can be done in your driveway for less that $100 (search "mobile glass-repair service" and your ZIP code online to find a company). The cost of replacing a windshield: $500 to $1, 200.
Skip the extra warranty. Car dealerships make big profits from them. Standard warranties generally cover you for three years or 30,000 miles (whichever comes first), and some car are covered for their lifetime, 10 years, or 1000,000 miles, which demonstrates their reliability.
Review your insurance annually. Monitor the value of your vehicle as it ages, and drop collision coverage when the annual premium approaches the car's worth.
For how to save money on gas, go to realsimple.com/gascosts.