To the woman who is constantly bringing her station wagon in for minor repairs or getting hit with $3,000 mechanic bills (what’s an air-conditioning compressor, anyway?): It doesn’t have to be this way. Here, six secrets of people who never seem to have car troubles. (And yes, it’s about more than just being lucky.)

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They get their oil changed regularly

There’s no exact rule of thumb for how often you need to do this (typically about every 3,000 miles). Just check your driver’s manual, which will give you a ballpark mileage based on your specific car and what state you live in. (Some, like California, have stricter emissions guidelines.) For about $50, a regular oil change will keep your engine cool and lubricated, saving you from truly expensive repairs down the road.

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They don’t let their gas fall below a quarter tank

First and foremost, you are way less likely to run out of gas if you’re not frantically searching for a Sunoco while running on fumes. Secondly, running on fumes is pretty bad for your car, since it can cause the electric fuel-pump motor (aka the thing that pushes gas to the engine) to suck in air and wear out prematurely.

RELATED: The Secret Way to Always Know What Side Your Gas Tank Is On

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They don’t speed

The faster you’re going, the harder you need to stomp on your brakes to slow down. And the harder you stomp on the brakes, the quicker you are to destroy those brake pads. (Oh, and you’re also way more likely to have an accident, for what it’s worth.)

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They buy from reputable dealers

Dear Craigslist: We trust you for scoring bookshelves and searching Missed Connections. We do not trust you for purchasing automobiles. Here's why: Even a well-meaning CL'er might not know about problems with a car. A reputable dealer, on the other hand, sells only cars it's inspected thoroughly and can (hopefully) vouch for with a warranty. If there's a Craigslist deal you just can't turn down, at the very least ask your mechanic to check out the car before you make the purchase.

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They keep hints of valuables out of sight

You’re smart enough not to leave an iPad on the passenger’s seat. But are you smart enough to put the cord away? Or how about the windshield mount that holds your GPS in place? Thieves are clever, and if you leave even the suggestion of a valuable item in plain sight, you open yourself up to a potential break-in.

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They don’t ignore that funny feeling

Hear a weird noise? Smell a vaguely burnt odor? Feel a slight pulling to the left every time you accelerate? Don’t just go about your day and hope it will get better. Call to see if your mechanic thinks it’s a problem and if you should bring your car in for inspection. At the very least, you’ve bought yourself some peace of mind.

RELATED: The 27 Things to Always Have in Your Car

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