What is a sick car? I am referring to cars that are lacking normal maintenance and/or may need some type of mechanical work. Routine maintenance of a car consists of things like regular oil change, keeping your brakes in good condition, and enough tread on the tires to be considered safe on the road. Some more serious items of repair would be radiator, belts, or even transmission problems. The longer routine and more serious repairs are delayed, the more likely your sick car will either run poorly or just stop running at all.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June, the number of unemployed persons was 14.6 million; the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. We also have thousands of people that have given up looking for work, as well as families working in minimum-wage jobs. That being said, we have a lot of folks with a limited amount of money trying to maintain their vehicles.
It should be especially noted that this is a catch 22 situation for the unemployed. Without transportation, it’s difficult to find and keep a job-but without a job it’s difficult to pay for maintenance and repair of a car. If you have a sick car or finances are tight, here are some suggestions that may help:
1. Baby Your Car–This is very important. Run your car either at the speed limit or just below. Don’t slam the brakes on at stops; ease into braking. These two things will slow down the wear on your tires and car. It will buy you time until you can get the needed repairs and maintenance done. Jack rabbit starts burn more gas and use more tread on the tires.
2. Phone Calls–Make phone calls instead of driving whenever you can. An example would be calling beforehand for store hours instead of driving to the store only to find out they are closed. If you conserve mileage, you preserve the life of your car. This actually makes sense even for healthy cars.
3. Car Pool–When going to gatherings or church, you can car pool. Nobody needs to know you are eliminating some of the trips your car makes. Take turns now and then with your friends to drive. If you do have a job, this is still a great idea to cut down on the usage of your car and high gas prices.
4. Do- It-Yourself–Of course, this is not for everyone. If you can do mechanical work, change your own oil and filter. Many specs and repair manuals can be found online for those wanting the challenge. This will save labor costs. Also look for discounted parts, including parts found at junkyards. Don’t forget eBay also has cheap pricing on many auto parts.
5. Ask a Friend–Local mechanics may do small jobs for a minimal amount of money either out of their home garage or tucked away in an unadvertised locale. Sometimes, even retirees enjoy doing this type of work at a very reasonable rate. So, ask your friends for personal recommendations. This worked for me when I moved to a different state.
6. Barter or Exchange Services–If you have some type of talent or services you can trade off for car repair, try it. Perhaps you are good at cleaning. Offer to clean in exchange for car repair. You would be surprised these days what works!
7. Walk or Bike–Yes, don’t always hop in the car when you can easily walk to wherever you are going. Biking to your local store is also an option; attach a small basket to your bike for the groceries. This is a real winner since you also benefit greatly from the increased physical exercise.
8. Public Transportation–Taking the bus is another great way to cut down on the usage of your car. If you live in a big city with a great transportation system, this may be the answer. This is another favorite of mine. I met some of the most memorable and lovable people riding public transportation. I saved a lot of money too.
If you have a sick car and a limited budget, you may be able to implement some of these tips depending on your circumstances or where you live. Whatever you do though, make sure levels are full-such as oil, water, and transmission oil. Levels too low can result in engine shutdown. I know; it happened to me.
Also be aware that your car may become “unsafe” for the road if certain repairs are delayed. However, sometimes without charge, a good mechanic can tell you if your car has reached that stage. Chances are your car will not get to that point. With a little bit of ingenuity and some of these tips, you may be able to return your car back to good health.