When money is tight and tough budgeting decisions need to be made, you might be considering putting off car maintenance. It seems to be a logical option if your car isn't in need of any critical repairs. But you should be aware that by putting off routine maintenance, you may cause yourself more problems in the long run.

Experts say that failing to properly maintain a car reduces the car's life span. It can also be the cause of much more expensive repairs down the road. Here are a few of the things that are budget-busters waiting to happen if you're not careful:
  • Oil changes – Oil helps to reduce friction and keeps your engine running well. Conventional wisdom says to change it every 3,000 miles, but you can follow your manufacturer's instructions if they say to do it less frequently. You risk engine failure if you don't change your oil often enough.
  • Rotating tires – This is one expense that doesn't seem worth the money when you're standing in the auto repair shop. But it's recommended to be done every 6,000. Rotating the tires, having them balanced, and keeping them properly inflated helps reduce excessive wear on the tires and extends their life. It can also help increase gas mileage a little.
  • Checking brakes – It's recommended to have your brakes checked annually to make sure that the pads and shoes aren't too warn. This is a safety issue, as well as something that could cause expensive replacement of rotors or brake drums.
Keeping up on routine maintenance of your car is far less costly then the expensive repairs that can come up when you ignore your car. Don't cut regular auto check-ups and tune-ups out of your budget. If you do, you'll be sorry.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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