Maintaining to save money, out and about.

financial managementIn my last post, I introduced the topic of maintaining your inside appliances and fixtures in order to prevent unplanned large expenses from hitting your pocketbook.  In that post I focused on changing your filters regularly, furnace maintenance, and fireplace maintenance, in order to stay away from the budget-busting bills. Financial management is so important in our lives and by maintaining your appliances you will be way ahead of the game.

In this post I am going to focus on maintaining your automobile and machinery and appliances you may use outside of your home.

It is my guess that your second biggest investment behind your house is probably your car.  That is, unless you have children who are in college.   Maintaining my car is very high on my list since I’m always trying to steer clear of car-repair bills.  You know you are going to get them but there are ways you can avoid or delay them.

Primp your ride.

Oil and Filter

I tend to keep my vehicles longer than most people.  In fact, my last car had gone over 220,000 miles before it basically rusted out and I was forced to buy another car.  I think I got everything out of that car that I could have.  When it got older I made sure I changed the oil and filter every 3000 miles.  Tom and Ray of CarTalk, a syndicated radio program, recommend changing your oil every 5000 miles.  I think it makes sense that the older a car and an engine gets, it probably makes sense to change the oil more regularly than a new vehicle.

Air Filter, Fuel Filter

Two more filters which should be changed regularly are the air filter and the fuel filter.  Edmunds, the highly popular online car website, recommends changing your fuel filter every 24,000 miles and your air filter every 12,000 miles.

Tires

I tend to purchase my tires at a discount tire store rather than at my dealer or at one of the large tire chains.  Right there you will be saving money.  But, there is one thing that you must have done when you have the new tires put on.  That one thing is an alignment. If you don’t ensure that your front and rear end is in alignment then your tires will start to chop (or wear improperly) and, as a result, the life of your tires will be reduced drastically.  Obviously you also want to make sure the tires are balanced when they are put on your car but that is a typical procedure.  Not all tire stores will have the proper machinery for an alignment so it is imperative for you to immediately go and have an alignment done or checked at a fully-equipped service station.

Yard Machine Maintenance

My yard is very important to me and so are the machines that I utilize to maintain that yard.  Let me get this straight right off the bat, I am not a mechanical wizard at all.  I try my best to learn about my lawn equipment and try to maintain them as well as I am able to.  If I need help I will seek out the proper resources.

Stabilize your stuff.

As far as maintenance is concerned, I’ve found it is extremely important to read the manual and follow the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance plan.   For example, it is important that at the end of each season you either remove the gas from your lawn equipment or utilize a stabilizer in the tank during the off-season.  The latest school of thought is to leave the tank full and add stabilizer.  Keeping the tank full of gas, including stabilizer, will reduce the amount of moisture that could form in the tank.  This is what I do with my lawnmower and my snowblower at the end of each season.  It is also recommended that after you add the stabilizer to the gas you should run the engine for a few minutes to allow the gas to circulate through the gas line.

As far as my small machinery such as my chainsaw, weed wacker, and leaf blower are concerned, you can follow the same procedure.  The website eHow includes a video on storing a gas-powered leaf blower for the winter.  This video also recommends leaving the gas in the tank and adding stabilizer.

Regular oil and filter changes.

Other regular maintenance on your outside machinery should include regular oil changes, air and fuel filter changes, and keeping your equipment clean.  One tool that I have found to be extremely helpful for oil changes with my 52″ landscaping mower is an oil extractor.  The one shown in this link is the exact model I purchased.  It allows you to pump the oil out of the mower which could avoid a terrible mess that could arise from removing the oil the conventional way.

Grease is good.

Another regular maintenance activity you should conduct on your outside machinery is greasing.  A lawn tractor and snowblower come with a number of grease fittings found at various locations.  Review your manual for the exact locations and use a grease gun to pump grease into the fittings until the grease starts to slightly overflow.  Then you can remove the excess grease with a rag.  Lubrication is a key maintenance activity you should perform at least once a season.  And don’t go cheap with the grease gun because a decent one should last you a lifetime.

I hope these two posts have been somewhat informational as far as using maintenance to avoid costly bills.  Financial management should be a top priority in your life as it is in mine and maintenance is a big factor. If you have other suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

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