Summer Savings: 4 car maintenance checks to do before that next summer road trip

Car trouble is inconvenient. No one wants to deal with maintenance or repairs, but delaying both has the potential to cause more damage – and more costly repairs – down the road.

We want to help you have the knowledge to make informed decisions and toss in a few tips to save a few dollars down the road. It's part of our new "Summer Savings" segment that will air every Thursday on "Good Day Orlando."

Our first topic: car maintenance.

Florida sees quite a bit of rain during the summer, followed by the start of Hurricane Season on June 1.

To prepare, there are a few maintenance checks everyone should perform on their car:

  • Check the car battery
  • Check windshield wipers
  • Replace air filter
  • Check the tires

Before going on a summer road trip, it's important to get your vehicle's battery checked. No one wants to be caught on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Some major auto repair shops, such as Firestone and Discount Tire, will do battery checks for free. 

If you do need a new one, costs can range between $70 - $100 depending on where you go. Do not be afraid to call around and compare costs.

When getting an oil change, the mechanic will often ask if you want to change one of the air filters in the cabin (that's where you sit) or the engine.

Should you do it?

Larry Perry, the president of Magic Mechanic in Orlando, said yes, it's worth it to swap it out and the cost is typically $20-$25, depending on where you go.

Leaving the filter dirty can cause the engine to work harder – which could impact fuel mileage – and leaving the cabin air filter dirty can cause the inside the car to smell. 

"What winds up happening is your fuel mixture will go real rich, and you'll start to burn a lot of fuel," said Perry.

"Who needs to be burning three miles less to a galloon right now?"

What about wiper blades? Bottom line, if they're not getting rid of the water on the windshield when it rains, that's a clear sign they need to be replaced.

You can also check the rubber on the bottom of the blade. If it's not smooth or is leaning to one side, it's likely not good anymore.

Perry – who has spent decades working on cars – says run your hand across the blade to do a quick test to see if you need to spend or save.  

"When it goes across a piece of glass, it’s going to squeak and not be a nice clean squeegee," Perry said. Many wiper blades are expected to last about a year, which means, you probably should expect replacement to be a yearly expense. 

Finally, keep the vehicles' tires correctly inflated.

Under inflated tires could pop, which can be dangerous on the road, but also can cost a lot more, especially if you're stranded and require a tow. 

"More fuel burn trying to push an under inflated tire," he said.

Discount Tire does free air checks. Some gas stations offer free air, but not all.

AAA estimated that the average cost for common auto repairs are between $500 - $600, though it also depends on a lot of factors, such as the level of repair and the mechanic.

AAA recommends people set $50 aside each help to help cover routine maintenance or unexpected repairs.