For most people, their car is one of the biggest assets and liabilities they own. While some talk about a car as an investment, in reality they depreciate in value over time (with very few exceptions) and they constantly require care and maintenance. It's easy to become wrapped up in keeping your car in "perfect" condition, whether to maintain your image or to avoid maintenance problems further down the road. While some activities and items for your car are well worth the cost, there are others that are a complete waste. Read on so you can avoid throwing away money on your car.
Performing too frequent of oil changes. On old cars, a 3,000 mile interval between oil changes was necessary. Modern engines are designed with much tighter specifications, meaning they can go longer between oil changes. Using synthetic oil means that the lubricant will maintain its viscosity for a much longer time, requiring less frequent oil changes. Instead of following a lube shop's recommended 3,000 mile oil change interval, follow the recommended intervals from the vehicle manufacturer. Also, never fall for the oil system flushes lube shops sell since they are unnecessary if you change your oil at the manufacturer-recommended intervals.
Ignoring the tires. For many car owners, tires are something they never think about until they're told they need new ones. The fact is that by ignoring their maintenance, tires last only a fraction as long as they should. Check the tire air pressure regularly and keep it at the level the vehicle manufacturer recommends, not what's printed on the side of the tires. Tires aren't exactly cheap, so doing this simple thing will save you significant money.
Ignoring problems until they become big. Every once in a while you should drive with your windows down and the sound system turned off. Listen for your car's engine, brakes, etc. If you hear any strange noises, it could be an early indication of a problem. Also, pay attention to any of the warning lights on the dash as well as fluids leaking from your car. Strange odors can also indicate a problem that is brewing out of sight. The best thing to do if you suspect there is a problem with your car is to have it examined by your mechanic early. Addressing issues earlier usually means they are less severe and cost less to fix.
Paying others to do simple tasks. With a little effort, you can wash and wax your car yourself, plus clean the interior. Many people want to pay a steep fee to have professionals do the work for them, but in all honesty it's a cost you can most definitely avoid. The same thing goes for oil changes, swapping wiper blades, checking and topping off fluids, and replacing burned out light bulbs. If you perform work on your own car regularly, you will notice things you would otherwise overlook. Being more familiar with your car will help you catch any problems early and keep you aware of anything that needs to be addressed.
Using premium fuel unnecessarily. Your car's manufacturer recommends using fuel with a certain octane rating. Filling up with a fuel that has a higher octane rating does not make your car run any better or increase performance. Such a "treat" is simply a waste of money.
Rolling down the windows instead of running the air conditioning. This has been proven over and over by car manufacturers and others, but driving with your windows down does not save on fuel. In fact, having the windows down creates so much extra drag on the car that it ends up consuming more fuel than the extra load placed on the engine by running the air conditioning. The faster you go, the more rolling down your windows hurts the car's fuel economy, so plan accordingly.