** This writing is from 2003 when I still new everything **
Living in poverty, on the ramen, food stamps, keystone light, donating sperm all can by synonymous with being a student. As students are one valuable possession often turns out to be our car. However, cars can be an expensive proposition if you let them be. But with a little love and some common sense even the most inexperienced owner can save money and headache.
The first thing everybody should do is read the owners manual. As dumb as this sounds there are many people who never crack the owners manual. The owners manual has a scheduled maintenance list. Follow this list; the best way to prevent a major car repair bill is through preventative maintenance. Checking the oil, radiator and brake fluid is an easy way to save a problem before it begins. Many times large repair bills are prevented by these small steps.
A trip to the mechanic can often make a person’s heart stop. This is especially true if the tow truck drivers uncle owns the shop. Dealing with a shop you are unfamiliar with is a gamble at best. This is why it is always smart to get a reputable mechanic before you are having any trouble. If you are new to the area ask people who have lived in the community for a long time where they have their car work done.
When scouting out a prospective shop look around and ask questions; is their shop clean? Are the mechanics ASE certified? How long have they been in business? Many mechanics, especially in the college area, offer student discounts. Again find out this information before any work is done to your car. Any reputable business should be clean and be able to answer any of the above simple questions.What saved me the most money on my car repair bills was taking a couple of automotive repair classes at my local community college.
This gave me the confidence to take on some car projects myself. Before the classes all I could do was change my oil. After a couple classes I had the ability to give my 82 Tercel a complete tune-up, install a new clutch and change the CV axels. Overall I saved myself over $500! While working on your car might not appeal to you, just having a good understanding of how a car runs will pay big dividends in the long run.