A trip to the mechanic can be annoying, especially when you are on a budget but they can become even more irritating when you have to deal with big car repairs.

The same way you go to the doctors for your health, schedule monthly visits to the mechanic to check problems before they become damaging to the wallet. Here are our top 5 tips to prevent your car from going into major surgery.

Monitor your car’s timing belt

The rubber-timing belt controls the rotation of the camshaft and crankshaft. These are the opening and closing of the engine’s many valves to allow air and gas in and out, which causes the fuel to ignite in the combustion chamber. It is recommended that your vehicle’s timing belt should replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Replacing a timing belt for preventive reasons typically costs $500 to $900. However, replacing a broken timing belt may cost upwards of $2,000 or more if it caused damage to the valves, pistons or water pump.

Watch out for a failing water pump

The water pump is what keeps your engine from overheating by circulating water and coolant throughout. This isn’t something that needs changing often (it’s recommended about 90,000-120,000 miles), but you still need to keep your eye on it to make sure it’s properly functioning. A coolant leak near the timing belt often signals an issue with the water pump. Overheating or a sudden change in the temperature gauge can also signal a problem. Like the timing belt, this is something that can cost upwards of $1,000 to replace.

Make sure your tires are in proper alignment

There is a reason people say “watch out for that large pothole!” because it may cause more than a loud thud. This damaged can throw off your car’s wheel alignment and improper wheel alignment can affect how your vehicle handles. There are other causes of tire misalignment like, abnormal tire wear or steering wheel pulling. This is relatively expensive and is usually done along with a tire change or rotation. Getting this done regularly allows for minor tweaks; if alignment gets bad, it can be much more costly.

Check your tire pressure at least once a month

Tire pressure is a measure of the amount of air in a vehicle’s tires, in pounds per square inch. Buying a tire pressure gage will help greatly, not only are they inexpensive but they help you save time and money. If you dedicate time to checking all four ties once a month you can ensure your safety on the road. Don’t forget to make sure you meet your vehicle manufacturer’s specified pressure or psi.

Check and replace the car’s fluids

Car fluid is the liquid courage of the automobile soul, but it does not last forever. Continuously inspecting the car fluids can help keep your vehicle as a well-oiled machine.

Be aware of these types of fluids:

  • The engine oil should be changed every 5,000 miles or every 6 months.
  • The engine coolant should to be checked twice a year and flushed and replaced as necessary.
  • The brake fluid attracts and absorbs moisture and, if ignored, can do a lot of damage to the internal parts of your anti-lock braking system. It should be flushed every two years regardless of mileage.
  • Also don’t forget to flush the power steering and change the differential lubricant, as well.