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Make your car last through 2009

January 21, 2009

With the auto industry rapidly changing, and many automakers finally going the hybrid route, lots of drivers are opting to keep their current vehicle for one more year to see what 2010 will have in store. If you’re part of the growing trend of people holding out for a 2010 car purchase, know that you can make it a good year for your current ride - and your insurance rate - via the following maintenance and efficiency tips:

Go independent: Have your car serviced by an independent mechanic shop, as opposed to your dealer’s in-house services. Dealers are always more expensive, sometimes by upwards of 40 per cent on basic services. So shop around and see what mechanics offer the best deal. And don’t be afraid to barter. Tip: If your dealer tells you outside servicing violates your car’s warranty, know this may be untrue, so be sure to check your warranty.

Time to replace a part? According to your manufacturer (and owner’s manual), you can track the proper replacement dates for auto parts. From fan belts to brakes and tires, be sure to replace parts on time. This will leave you less susceptible to emergencies and help endorse the car’s potential resale value down the road. Tip: Ask your mechanic if refurbished parts are available. They cost less and have to meet certain standards before being put in your car.

Do it yourself: Need to replace a filter or windshield wipers? Do it yourself and save the service charge. Tip: Want to save money in the long run? Consider taking a basic car maintenance class at your local college. The do-it-yourself skills you’ll learn will save you thousands of dollars over the years.

Rejected warranty claim? Try again! Did your car’s manufacturer reject your warranty claim? Ask if a technical service bulletin has been issued for the part. Tip: Persistence pays. Some manufacturers will repair a known defect outside a warranty period (called a “secret warranty” by industry insiders) if you are proactive and ask politely.

Are you over-insured? Do you review your rate every year? You should start. Each year, your car depreciates in value, so you may be over-insuring. Always keep liability, but reconsider collision and comprehensive insurance if your vehicle is in its last year. Tip: Add your deductible to your annual amount for collision and comprehensive coverage. Next, compare the total with the wholesale value of your car. If the amount is more than half, then it’s time for a quote comparison.