Stretching Your Dollar: Cost-saving methods to caring for your vehicle

Petroleum IndustryOil ChangesWeatherTire Rotation and Alignment

A car is one of the most expensive things you will own, so it is important to know how to take care of your vehicle without “driving up” your costs.
One vital thing to do is the oil change. 

One local woman gets oil changes like clockwork, every 3,000 miles.

“I get an oil change, tire rotation, all that good stuff without hesitation,” said Mia Coltrane. “I want my car to last.”

However, do you need your oil changed every 3,000 miles?  Fox59 asked the experts at Ray Skillman Hyundai South in Greenwood.   Most of the time, the answer is you don’t need to change your oil that often.

Shad Williams, service manager at Ray Skillman Southside Hyundai said it depends on your vehicle’s manual.

“Read your owner’s manual,” said Williams. “Really be versed in that and follow the guidelines in there.  With Hyundai, you should change your oil anywhere from 3,750 to 7,500 miles depending on how you drive.”
That's a big range.  So, here's how to decide:  Change your oil closer to every 3,000 miles if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, excessive idling, regular trips of less than five miles or if you use your vehicle for frequent towing.  Williams suggests also getting an oil change if you operate your vehicle in extreme temperatures, such as above 90 and below 10 degrees. 
The hot temperatures is why Coltrane still gets her oil changed every 3,000 miles, despite now living in Indiana. 

“Growing up in Texas, you have to know what to do with your car because it's hotter there and you don’t want to be stuck on the road in the heat, and your car blows up,” said Coltrane.

However, if you do a lot of easy highway driving, some manufacturers said it is okay to wait up to 20,000 miles between changes, which is probably less than once a year.

Again, check your manual.  Now, more on where you should go.  You can go to a place for quick oil changes or a dealership.  Both can provide quality service.
Most dealerships are now very competitive in pricing and speed, which means it's up to you.   There are a couple positives about dealerships.

“All your records are kept in one spot,” said Williams. “We are the ones who honor the warranty.  That way there is no gray area down the road. If you're doing all the maintenance at the dealer, you're covered as long as you're following all the guidelines in the owner’s manual.” 

There are also often no extra fees at most dealerships for topping off fluids.  The oil change price is inclusive.

Keep in mind, changing your oil more frequently will not harm your car, but that $30 oil change can harm your budget.  Most cars going an average of 15,000 miles in a year, only need three oil changes per year or every 5,000 miles.  So, if you change your oil five times a year, or every 3,000 miles, you'll pay an extra  $60 bucks and that's wasted money.  

Changing your oil is not just about saving money, it's about saving your engine.  If you wait too long, your engine can become full of harmful sludge. 

“The engine itself can become a mess with carbon build up and sludge, just from lack of oil changes and lower grade oil, and that can drastically reduce the life of your engine, and that's far more expensive than an oil change,” said David Navarra, technician at Ray Skillman Hyundai.

A final way to save money on your car, have the tires rotated with every oil change.  It is often free where you bought the tires, and it can literally double the life of your tires, saving you hundreds of dollars.

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