woman with broken down car

Owning a car is a necessity for most Americans. Unless your city is served by reliable, efficient public transit, you can count on driving to get to work and take care of your daily responsibilities.

But owning a car comes with a price. Not just the cost of buying a car but also the expense of keeping it on the road. To extend your car’s lifespan for as long as possible,┬ácheck out this list of car problems that you can solve on the cheap before they become more expensive problems later on.

1. Honor Thy Check Engine Light

The check engine light is the bane of any budget-conscious driver. As soon as it turns on, it’s normal to feel a pit of dread in both your chest and your wallet.

But don’t let your heart be troubled. More often than not, a check engine light is caused by something as simple as a loose gas cap.

Alternatively, it could be something like an issue with the oxygen sensor. Replacing that usually runs you about $250, but getting it over with will spare you from decreased gas mileage and the potential for a fatter repair bill later on.

2. Improve Mileage With a New PCV Valve

Even without a warning from your check engine light, your car could be experiencing engine problems that are lowering your gas mileage.

A common culprit is the positive crankcase ventilation (PVC) valve. If you’re experiencing unexplained mileage loss or if your engine is sputtering, it may be time to replace the PVC valve.

A new valve will usually cost you about $100. But that upfront investment will save you money on gas and help prevent more costly engine damage.

3. Keep Up With Scheduled Maintenance

The most important thing that you can do to extend your car’s life is just to keep up with basic maintenance.

Regular oil changes help stave off engine wear. Replacing your brake pads extends the lifespan of your rotors and calipers. These services aren’t expensive, and relative to the cost of more extensive repairs they’re among the best investments you can make.

4. Buff Out Dents with Paintless Dent Repair

Even the most cautious drivers will accumulate a few dings and dents over time. Or maybe you got your car already dented and it’s just been bothering you this whole time. Either way, paintless dent repair (PDR) is a quick and cheap way to have those aesthetic flaws worked out.

Since each dent is different, it’s hard to give a concrete estimate for repairs, but $50-$120 is about the average range for a one-inch dent. To get an idea of what it would cost to have a dent repaired on your care, use a PDR estimator so you know in advance what you should expect.

Check a Few Items Off Your List of Car Problems

These tips are just the beginning. The list of car problems that you can manage quickly and cheaply could go on nearly forever.

But it’s a good place to start, and once you get the hang of solving small problems, you’ll find yourself dealing with big ones less frequently.

And since there’s always more to learn, be sure to keep up with Go Motors to learn new tips and tricks.