As a 20 year Northern transplant, I have been told that there are 3 types of yankees here in Georgia.
Most of you already know that a yankee is a northern fellow who comes down, stays for a short time, and heads back up North.
A damn yankee is a northern fellow who stays… forever.
A damn good yankee, is a yankee who marries another yankee and they both move back up North.
I happen to be a fourth and fifth type of yankee. The one who marries a southerner and stays… which makes me a damn damn yankee. Along with this is my penchant for frugality, which makes me a damn damn cheap yankee.
I don’t mind being considered any type of damn Yankee. Heck I even grew up rooting for the New York Yankees in a North Jersey neighborhood infested with Met fans. But as for being cheap…
I am in certain ways. If I don’t have to spend money or buy anything, I don’t. But when it comes to cars I absolutely have to invest for rainy days where I save by doing my own work. Oil, filters, brake pads, coolant, hoses, wiper blades, belts, plugs and wires along with other wear items. Since I prefer to do things myself when time allows, we should also throw in jacks, jack stands, a torque wrench, a couple of tool sets, an oil drain pan container, and a Mityvac for helping remove power steering, brake and transmission fluid.
Whew!!! Come to think of it, that’s an awful lot of stuff! But if you are real sharp about it, all this long-term automotive maintenance shouldn’t cost you much at all.
Oil and filters: You can pretty much get motor oil for free these days. Every year motor oil marketers decide to introduce a new brand to the local parts stores. This year it has been G-Oil and Valvoline NextGen. The prior year it was Quaker State synthetic. Before that you had Pennzoil, Mobil and Castrol (which was cheap, but not free.) In most cases, to get free oil you just combine a store special with a manufacturer rebate which can be found at my second favorite site.
Some folks are fine with generic filters. I prefer to get Purolator Pure One filters along with their air filters since the quality is exceptional and I can always combine an online coupon code with the manufacturer’s rebate.
Plugs: Pep Boys offers them free during Black Friday. Up to 16 so you can pretty much have a near lifetime’s worth of plugs. Also manufacturers will offer rebates throughout the year which often meld with the Black Friday sales. I prefer to check my plugs changed every 50,000 miles since they can be incredibly challenging to remove if you keep them in for the full 100k.
Brakes, Coolant & Blades: You have all three discount sources available to you. Manufacturer rebates, online coupons, and Black Friday sales. I usually get the $10 Black Friday deal that Pep Boys offers for ceramic brake pads that usually retail at $40. Wiper blades I pay a little bit more for the better ones vs. buying the cheapies. They last longer and won’t scratch up your windshield. I always buy two sets to save me another trip to the parts store.
Coolant is generic. I use a coolant tester every other time I change my oil and replace when needed.
Mityvac Tools: I use Mityvac products more out of convenience than necessity. Since my wife has a credit card that offers Amazon rebates I used that to get the Mityvac pump and brake bleeder kit for nothing. The ones with the manual pumps usually last three to five years. The models that are used in conjunction with an air compressor last almost indefinitely. Both are a pain to drain.
One redneck version of as Mityvac a good friend of mine uses is to simply get some plastic tubing from Home Depot, put one end to the liquid you want to remove. Blow… and have physics drain out the fluid you want to remove. You can use empty coolant containers, or an oil pan container for storing the old fluids. Don’t reuse the tubing like he does. Better yet. Just get a set of jacks and stands during Black Friday and use that instead.
Wrench Sets: Only use the cheap generic stuff if you’re going to simply handle basic maintenance. Oil, filters and fluids? Cheap is fine. I like Craftsman since they come with lifetime warranties and are a known commodity. If you work on your car no more than every two to three months, that will do.
A more hardcore hobbyist will be on the constant prowl for premium tools such as Snap-On, which are anything but cheap. On the free side of things you can always rent certain tools from auto parts stores which cost nothing in the end. Most light hobbyists are far better off going that route when it comes to specialized tools.
The Big Bottles: The new thing at most parts stores is to encourage folks to buy far more fluid than they will ever need. The large containers for brake fluid and power steering fluid combined with the ‘buy x amount for your discount’ are a good example of that. I would just avoid those things. If you can buy the normal sized bottle with a manufacturer ‘s rebate… perfect. You don’t need more than that.
Sometimes it will be worth buying the unique tool that comes with the auto part. Such as the a/c gauge that comes with a can of freon. Make sure it is separate from the can and use that for the few times that it’s needed.
How long should I stock up for? Two years worth is fine. Anything more is hoarding and the marketeers taking advantage of your deal making desires.