Care for your car, cheaply

By Jen Haley, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Help pare down your car costs this summer by preparing your car.

1. Check the tires

When your tires are inflated properly your tires will last longer and you'll get better gas mileage. Because of summertime's higher temperatures, the air pressure in a warm tire rises. So make sure you check the tire pressure when its cooler out.

Set the tire pressure to the manufacturer's recommendations. You can generally find this figure on a sticker on the door or inside the glove box. You should also check your owner's manual.

You'll also want to do a visual once-over to make sure your tires are in good condition. If you see a bulge or blister on the sidewall, you'll want to replace that tire immediately. These weak spots could lead to tire failure, according to Consumer Reports.

You should also take a look at the tread. Here's a simple way to test the treat. Put a penny into the tire groove -- make sure Lincoln's head is toward the tire. If you can still see the top of Abe's head, the tread is too worn.

2. Get the right price for repairs

Did you ever wonder if that $300 mechanic bill was way out of line? Check out Repairpal.com. This free website gives price ranges for common repairs, like brake shoe replacement or wheel alignment. You can search by model, year and where you live. You may also consider going to an independent shop to get your car repaired instead of going to your dealership.

3. Keep your car hydrated

Check the level of all of your vehicle's vital fluids. We're talking about your car's engine oil, brake fluid and windshield washer fluid. Your engine oil will be near the front of the engine, close to you, and sometimes has a brightly colored handle. If the engine oil is below the hash mark on the dipstick, you'll want to add more oil. If you have an older vehicle and have been running a lighter "winter" oil, now is the time to switch to an oil designed for hot weather.

4. Check the battery

A battery gives little warning before it goes dead. And it'll likely do so when you least expect it. Hot weather can put additional strain on a battery. I

lf your vehicle battery is more than three years old, have it tested and check for corrosion. If you're thinking about a road trip this summer, you may just want to replace the battery if you're not sure how old it is. It's good insurance.

Talkback: Are you considering a summer road trip? To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.19%4.26%
15 yr fixed3.23%3.27%
5/1 ARM3.34%3.45%
30 yr refi4.17%4.23%
15 yr refi3.21%3.25%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,982.59 22.02 0.13%
Nasdaq 4,444.91 -4.65 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,978.91 0.57 0.03%
Treasuries 2.49 0.02 0.89%
Data as of 1:16am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.02 1.99 2.05%
Facebook Inc 74.92 -0.06 -0.08%
Bank of America Corp... 15.50 -0.09 -0.58%
Dollar Tree Inc 54.87 -0.08 -0.15%
Family Dollar Stores... 75.74 15.08 24.86%
Data as of Jul 28

Sections

Herbalife shares tumble after the maker of nutritional supplements reports earnings that fall short of analysts' estimates. More

New annual report from U.S. government shows the long-term prognosis for Medicare has improved thanks to slower health spending, while the outlook for Social Security remains unchanged. More

Online dating site OkCupid found its users were more likely to have conversations when it told them they were more compatible than in reality. More

Actor-founded This Bar Saves Lives had Hollywood connections, but learned Start-Up 101 the hard way. More

Steve Mason, a pastor from California, inherited more than $100,000 in student loan debt when his 27-year-old daughter died suddenly in 2009. With interest and late penalties, the debt has since ballooned to $200,000. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.