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Maintain your Car and put some muscle in your Retirement Plan

Courtesy of USAA

A well-maintained vehicle performs better and stays on the road longer. If you’re on the road to retirement this can be a big deal. Maybe even as much as $200,000 toward retirement, if, just this one time, you’re able to drive your car for an extra four years after it’s paid for in full. 

With loans currently being offered by some lenders, let’s assume the new car you won’t buy would cost $20,000. With zero-down, this dollar amount equates to around $470/month at 6 percent interest for 48 months. That’s money you won’t be paying in car payments. Fast forward 30 years later, assuming a reasonable 8 percent annual return, that’s nearly $200,000 just for taking care of your wheels. Of course, this is a hypothetical situation, but you get the point.

Imagine the impact on your retirement if you repeat this process over the years. 

Not to mention, routine service helps avoid more costly problems and ensures that you're driving a safer and more reliable car. Our easy-to-follow guide covers the basics that apply to most vehicles on the road today, based on driving an average 12,000 miles per year — you should adjust for your driving routine and habits. Refer to the manufacturer's maintenance schedule for your specific model, as well as state's vehicle inspection and emissions laws for specifics that apply in your area.

Every Three Months/3,000 Miles

Oil & Filter Change. Essential for gas mileage and engine life, this is one of the most important aspects of vehicle maintenance. Factors like city traffic or highway miles, driving style and climate may warrant a slightly different schedule.

Check Tire Pressure. Using a pressure gauge, check tire pressure on all four tires. The recommended pressure is imprinted on the sidewall of each tire. Compensate for extreme temperatures: Maintain a slightly lower pressure in hot weather, slightly higher for the cold months.

Lights. Check headlamps, tail lights, turning lights and brake lights, replacing bulbs as needed.

Every Six Months/6,000 Miles

Tires. Tire rotation and balance is essential for even wear. Go to a mechanic or your local tire center to ensure they are rotated correctly — most do it for free when you have any other type of service done. Check tire tread life at the same time and inspect your spare.

Brakes. Check pads and rotors for signs of uneven wear. Front pads and rotors do the bulk of the braking work and may show greater signs of wear.

Hoses and Belts. Check for cracks and brittleness in hoses, and make sure clamps are secure. Check for slack in belts.

Battery. Check cables and posts, cleaning any corrosion. Though most batteries no longer need water, if yours does, refill each cell.

Check Fluids. Do a quick check (and refill if needed) of windshield cleaner, as well as antifreeze and brake, power steering and transmission fluids.

Every 12 months/12,000 miles

Schedule major interval service.

Replace windshield wiper blades.

Major Interval Service

Though each make and model has its own maintenance and tune-up schedule (check the manufacturer's Web site or dealer's service department), most major service intervals are every 12,000 miles for the first three years or 36,000 miles and at 25,000-mile intervals after that.

Examples given are hypothetical illustrations and not an indication of the benefits or features of any USAA product. Sample costs and loans are for illustration purposes only and are not a rate quote, pre-approval, or commitment to lend.

Investing in securities products involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

Ranges are for illustrative purposes only, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results.

The information contained is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining professional financial advice. Systematic investing and automatic contributions are investment strategies and do not protect against losses or guarantee that an investor’s goal will be met. Please thoroughly research and seek professional representation before acting on any information you may have found in this article. This article is in no way attempts to provide financial advice that relates all personal circumstances. 

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posted 3.17.2010

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