I was lucky enough to go to a university whose campus was so small that I didn’t really need a car. I walked everywhere but it was never too far, and it helped me stave off the freshman fifteen. I remained sans automobile for my entire college career because having a car in college is at once the best and the worst thing ever.

I mean it’s great to have the freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want. And in particularly rough times it helps to have a place to sleep when there is nowhere else to go (although, once when all my roommates were mysteriously evicted, I had to live in a Chicago hotel with a really rich woman, but that’s another blog post). The downside of having a car is that you have to find parking, fill it up with gas and repair it if things go wrong. I don’t want to assume anything about anyone but we are all on a site called cheapscholar.org; none of us are trying to pay that much to keep our cars tight when there are things like “food” and “rent” to worry about.

If you are one of the “lucky” ones who have a car, but can’t shell out thousands a semester for repairs, check these hints to keep your hooptie grinding.

Change Your Own Oil

This is probably the most necessary, most overcharged service to perform on your car. A shop will charge you upwards of $25 dollars plus the cost of the oil. You may not be able to harvest your own black gold, but you can certainly change oil out by yourself using any one of the manifold Internet guides available!

Most manufacturers will recommend changing oil every 3,000 miles, although it varies for each car. What you want to do is alternate between changing your oil and taking it into a mechanic. I know I just downplayed mechanics and everything, but taking your car into the shop every other oil change will halve your bills and give you a chance to have your car looked at to see if there is any less basic maintenance your car needs.

Change Your Own Tires

In the same vein as changing your oil, learning how to change your tires will save you hundreds in towing and labor when your car breaks down on the highway. Despite the oil and sweat that goes into the exercise it’s really not that hard to do.

Prevention, Dude

When it comes to repairs and maintenance, get it done ON TIME. That maintenance manual in your glove box? Pull it out and read through it. If you spend $200 to get your engine looked at now, you could save $5,000 later when your motor goes kaput because you never got the cooling system looked at and now it’s overheated and you’re living in a Chicago hotel (with a really rich lady, if you’re lucky).

Joseph Baker’s business experience in management spans more than 15 years. A leader of development and management teams, he also implemented budget reductions professionally and as an independent contractor. Joseph led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses. His education background ranges from teaching to school administration.