I bought my first car for $200 as that was all my pocket would allow as a student studying in America back in 1976. Within a matter of 6 months I had spent 5 times the amount I paid for it initially (by then I had gotten a job that paid a little more). And continued to spend to keep it running till I was able to buy a new Toyota pickup.
You have to remember that the older the car, the older the parts, and bigger the repair bills. But you can minimize the amount spent on the used car you have just purchased by following the below mentioned few steps:
- Change all oils, not just the engine oil. This way you can keep a record of the maintenance work carried out plus your car will run better.
- Change all filters; oil, air, fuel, transmission (automatic transmissions only). But make sure you use good quality filters.
- Change all belts, if required. You can examine the belts for cracks and wear. If your car has a timing belt, replace it if it shows even the slightest of cracks.
- Change tyres if necessary. Otherwise get the tyres balanced and have the wheel alignment carried out.
- Change the battery if necessary. A weak battery that cannot start the car will rapidly cause you to lose that enthusiasm you had when you first bought the car.
- Get the radiator cleaned out. Check the radiator cap and radiator hoses. Replace if necessary, and fill it with quality coolant.
Some of you must be thinking that I must be crazy asking you to spend extra money on preventive maintenance. But keep two things in mind. First, you don’t know how well the previous owner maintained his/her car. Second which would be cheaper in terms of time and money? To buy a fan belt at your convenience? Or to replace a broken fan belt while on the way to the airport or the bus station, in which case you would have to hire a taxi to go and locate a shop to buy the belt. Then find a mechanic to fit the fan belt.
Owning a car can be a lot of fun but keeping it that way requires some care on your part. So try to study the Owner’s Manual and keep a logbook of the fuel consumed and the repairs and maintenance carried out.