Motorists need not look beyond their own cars to save money.

Simple things such as regular maintenance, timely oil changes and keeping an eye on tire pressure can save money at the pump and in the long run, leading to a longer car life and higher resale values, South Jersey auto dealers and repair shops said.

Foremost, these shops urge drivers to stick to scheduled maintenance as suggested by the manufacturer. Each vehicle has different specifications and maintenance schedules, so owners should adhere to the manual, they said.

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Frank Tomasello, a sales representative at J.C. Miller Auto Parts in Northfield, said missing scheduled maintenance could void the warranty of your vehicle.

Regular oil changes are one of the biggest maintenance practices.

The rule of thumb is to change the oil every 3,000 miles, but it is “critical” to go by your car’s specifications, Chapman Auto Service adviser Scott Reska said.

Some vehicles and some oils can mean less frequent oil changes.

Oil lubricates the engine and sweeps out toxic particles that can hurt an engine or lead to a buildup of sludge.

“You can drink Pepsi all day, or you can drink juice and water. What do you think is going to be better for you?” Reska said about oil changes.

Tracy Noble, spokeswoman for AAA in New Jersey, said the organization urges people to “pay a little now and save a lot later.”

Changing and checking the oil regularly can help extend engine life. Reska called oil the “lifeblood of the car.”

Oil deteriorates as it is used in the engine.

Mike Collins, manager at K+M Auto Repair in Northfield, said the better shape the oil is in, the better it will lubricate the engine. That can improve gas mileage.

The U.S. Department of Energy says motorists can improve gas mileage 1 percent to 2 percent by using the recommended grade of motor oil and changing it regularly.

Tariq Hassan, a sales consultant with Boardwalk Honda in Egg Harbor Township, says how people drive can help or hurt oil life and gas mileage.

“Unnecessary gas surges and harsh stops can hurt both your gas and oil life,” Hassan said. “Gradual stops and easing into accelerating can help. Driver habits have everything to do with what you are getting out of your vehicle.”

The right tire pressure can also improve mileage by 3.3. percent, according to the Department of Energy.

Tomasello says everyone should be checking their levels at least once a month to get optimal mileage. Manufacturer specifications detail proper tire pressure.

Underinflated tires can also pose a safety issue and can wear out more quickly.

“Without proper inflation, it will cause tires to wear in the center,” Tomasello said. “Underinflation causes wear on the edges of the tires. It hurts stopping and maneuverability.”

Keeping up with the needs of your car can save money in repairs along the way and can increase the resale or trade-in value.

Hassan said his dealership looks at how well the car is kept up cosmetically, as well as how it has been maintained by the owner.

Taking care of your vehicle will result in more cash in your pocket both when you sell or trade in your vehicle, and every time you have to gas up. And who doesn’t like more money?

Contact: 609-272-7275

Press copy editor since 2006, copy desk chief since 2014. Masters in journalism from Temple University, 2006. My weekly comics blog, Wednesday Morning Quarterback, appears Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com.

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