Recently I had to take my car in to the shop for maintenance. It is a used car and I have had it for about 2 years. I figured since I don't drive that often where I live that I did not need to get maintenance as often since the normal recommendation is every 30-50,000 miles for a larger maintenance round. Well unfortunately since the car was used I did not have a record of when the previous owner had done routine maintenance. My oil seemed OK and so did my fluids, but the breaks were a bit loud and steering a little clunky.
So I took my car into the shop expecting maybe 400-600 dollars in parts and labor being that I don't know the last time this car was overhauled. After the dealership invited me into their office we had a bit of an awkward conversation. They told me so far what they had found is about $1200 in maintenance and replacing a broken turn signal in my mirror. And that was not including anything else they found on deeper inspection!
In the end I talked them down, and being that I have a family (you could see the kid seats in the back) I suspect the kind mechanics might have left off an item or two. My final bill was around $1000. I learned from this one very important thing about car ownership: Keep up with your maintenance. Treat your car well and it in turn will save you money.
I decided from there to research how I can keep better tabs on what needs to be changed and when. I found that most modern cars have maintenance sensors that can be accessed by a single "chip" or connection. This is what all the repair and autoshops use as a first diagnostics test to find out what needs to be done. The diagnostics sensors are indented to only be accessed by mechanics, but this clever company makes a product called SmartCar that allows car owners to use the car's built-in diagnostic system. You simply plug in the Bluetooth chip reader using the instructions. From then on you can quickly and easily check all of the fluids, filters, belts etc. and what needs to be replaced using the SmartCar iOS or Android app on your phone!
Now I treat my car much better and I know exactly when something needs to be replaced. My maintenance costs will be spread out and even reduced due to taking better care of my car thanks to SmartCar. I can highly recommend this product for any car owner who either a) wants to troubleshoot problems in their car themselves before taking it to an autoshop and b) for car owners who want to stay on top of their maintenance with the precision of a professional mechanic.
Finally I would mention SmartCar can also save you money by allowing you to double-check maintenance against your repair shop to confirm you are not getting swindled.
This diagnostics device has saved me far more than the $75 it costs. I highly recommend it to all car owners.