Now that tax season is here, you're probably looking for smarter ways to spend your tax refund this year. If you know your vehicle needs some work, now's the perfect time to take care of important maintenance and repairs. Here are a few ways to spend your tax refund that will extend the life of your car and make traveling safer — saving you money in the long run.
1. Take care of Repairs You've Been Delaying
We're all guilty of putting off needed repairs due to financial concerns. Address those repairs now to avoid further damage and to give yourself peace of mind. Most issues start off as minor but can soon turn into expensive repairs if delayed for too long.
Common repairs we see put off include battery replacement, wheel alignment, engine tuneups and air filter replacements. Addressing all these in a timely manner is crucial for safe driving. This is especially true if you've been experiencing issues for a while.
For reference, you should plan to have your battery replaced every three years. Wheel alignment should be checked annually by a mechanic, but you'll most likely notice a problem when you drive. Air filters should be replaced between 30,000–45,000 miles. It's smart to have an annual engine tuneup, but if you've noticed strange noises or issues, now's the time to take your vehicle in.
2) Invest in New Tires
This winter, you might have noticed your tires aren't performing as well as they once did. While there's no way to tell exactly how long tires last, most last five years or between 25,000–50,000 miles. This all depends on road conditions, the type of car you own and how you handle your vehicle. Your car's manual will provide a recommendation for how often you should change your tires. If you can see the tread wear indicator, it's definitely time to get your tires replaced.
If you've recently purchased new tires, you can increase their longevity by performing regular tire rotations and checking the air pressure monthly. Rotations should be performed every 6,000–8,000 miles to maintain even tire tread. Remember to always check your tires before a long trip, paying close attention to cracks, bulges and punctures.
3) Replace Your Brakes
Having good brakes is crucial for safe driving. If you've noticed a drop in performance, it's important to bring your vehicle in right away. Brake pads generally need replacing after 50,000 miles, but that number will vary depending on how you handle your vehicle. Frequency of braking and how hard you press on the brakes will affect the replacement time. If you hear squeaking, grinding or scraping noiseswhen you brake, visit your mechanic immediately.
Have your mechanic take a look at your brake pads whenever you're having routine maintenance performed. He or she can determine the health of your brakes by looking at the brake pad thickness.
4) Take care of Engine Noises
Clunking noises under the hood should be addressed right away. It's usually your vehicle's way of warning you that serious issues are imminent. Diagnosing and fixing the problem immediately may save you a lot of money and time down the road. If you've noticed strange engine noises, using your tax refund to address them is the smart decision.
Some common causes of engine noises include worn belts, ignition problems, worn struts, dirty air filters or faulty water pumps. You might hear pinging, clicking or popping sounds. Certain vehicles are known to be more prone to engine problems, so have your mechanic take a look to diagnose and fix the issue in a timely manner.
5) Check — and possibly Replace — Car Fluids
There are many fluids your vehicle depends on to operate safely and smoothly. These include engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid. Checking the fluids regularly will keep your repair costs down and prevent future issues. Most car owners can check the motor oil themselves by popping the hood and looking at the dipstick. Other fluids might require a visit to the mechanic. Our general recommendations for how often to replace fluids are:
- Motor oil: Every 3,000 miles or every six months
- Transmission fluid: Between 50,000–100,000 miles
- Coolant: Every 2 years
- Brake fluid: Every 2 years
- Power steering fluid: If you notice a leak or if the indicator light comes on
Every car is different, so check your owner's manual for recommended changing times. If you've noticed leaks coming from the vehicle, have your mechanic take a look right away.
Don't delay your vehicle repairs and maintenance any longer. It's the smart and safe decision to address issues right away. Get the most out of your tax refund this year by extending the life of your vehicle and avoiding more serious issues and expenses down the road.
For help with these or any other auto repair or maintenance needs, stop by one of our six auto repair shops in Cleveland, Ohio today.