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This post, “11 Tips to Save Money on Car Repairs, was contributed by Tim Fox. Tim is the co-founder and writer of Elite Blog, where he and his friend share the latest information and opinions about cars and motorcycles.
Car repairs, of all expenses, can be among the most annoying. They can even be embarrassing, especially if it was something you could have prevented. The truth is sudden car problems and the accompanying costs are more than annoying; they can be devastating to your budget. You, just like many others, cannot go for long without reliable transportation, which means you’re often on the hook for expensive repairs, no matter the costs.
The good news is that you can save money on car repairs with a little savvy and old-fashioned elbow grease. Check out our best tips to save money on car repairs below!
1. Be ready to do it yourself
Do you instinctively run to your mechanic every time car troubles arise? Think again.
The truth is that not all car repairs need to be performed by a mechanic. Your mechanic likely generates his highest profit margins from the simplest repairs. In fact, the best way to save money on car repairs is to learn to manage a few basic maintenance items yourself.
You can easily change the car battery, replace brake lights, change wiper blades, take care of oil and filter changes, and much more.
Yes, it will be daunting at first, but with practice it will get easier. If you are not sure how to fix a small problem, check out video guides from Advanced Auto Parts, Auto Zone, and You Tube.
2. Be proactive with preventive maintenance
In medicine, they say that a pound of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. This is also true when it comes to proper auto maintenance. Speaking from experience and expert opinion, here are a few preventive maintenance tasks to keep your car running smoothly and save money on car repairs that will arise due to poor maintenance.
Regularly check fluid levels.
Low fluid levels are disasters just waiting to happen. Monitoring and refilling all fluids will stop problems in their tracks. You will avoid system failures and expensive repairs.
Inflate your tires to manufacturer’s recommendations
It might seem harmless to drive with under-inflated tires, but this increases wear and tear on your tires and car suspension and has a negative effect on gas mileage.
Have glass chips repaired immediately
Repairing a small glass chip is inexpensive. However, leaving it exposed to bumpy roads and temperature fluctuations is a costly mistake. Eventually you will have to replace the entire windshield, which will definitely leave a dent in your pocket.
Regularly replace brake pads
Neglecting your worn out brake pads only does more damage to the braking system and components. You only need a few bucks to buy new brake pads.
3. Use warranties to your advantage
Did you know that most of your car parts have a limited or lifetime warranty? This information and should be communicated to you at the time of purchase and should be printed on your receipt. The information is also captured into the system of your auto store. Starting a file for this information is one of the easiest ways to save money on car repairs.
Whenever you have an option for a lifetime or one-time purchase offer, spend the extra cash on the warranty. It will save you one day. Even if you do not believe that your car is going to be around for that long, it does not harm to have the warranty.
4. Look for used parts
Used parts, unknown to many car owners, can save you hundreds of dollar on repairs. And you will be surprised at the quality and reliability of such parts. Nationwide directories such as LKQCorp.com and Car-Part.com are good spots to start your search.
5. Dodge the dealership
If your car is not under warranty, the last place you should take it for repair is a dealership repair center. You’ll end up paying more money and dealing with inconvenient appointment times and wait times.
Instead, find a local, independently-owned service center by asking for recommendations from friends and co-workers. You’ll find competitive pricing, discounts on routine maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations, and convenient appointment windows.
6. Take the time to research
Car repairs are stressful, but when faced with a major repair, it pays to get a second opinion.
Many mechanics may include unnecessary charges or suggested repairs when providing you with an initial estimate. When possible, go to a site like AutoMD.com and do your own diagnostics, or get a second quote from another mechanic.
7. Build a relationship with a mechanic you can trust
We know you trust your mechanic. However, spoiler alert – many of them out there do not have your best interests at heart. Some might even be charging you for services you don’t even need!
That said, most mechanics are honest and decent. The problem is finding a good one and building a professional relationship. Referrals from family and friends could make it easy for you. You can also try searching at RepairPal.com.
8. Be smart and reduce core charges
Did you know most car parts can be rebuilt? These parts are referred to as “core.” Starters and batteries, for example, fall into this category.
Every time you replace one of these parts, the old ones have to be returned to the store and you have to pay a “core charge.” But you can return the parts and avoid paying the charge.
9. Always refer to your owner’s manual
You may not believe it, but regular reference to your owner’s manual can help you beat dishonest auto technicians at their own game. Taking just a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the maintenance schedule of your vehicle can help you save money on car repairs – hundreds or even thousands – over the lifetime of your vehicle.
10. You better shop around
If you do not have a mechanic you already trust, be ready to shop around as long as it takes to find one. As a general rule of thumb, have your car problems diagnosed by at least two technicians. Then compare their estimates and follow the savings.
11. Look for online coupons and discounts
We get it: you want your car back on the road as quickly as possible. Car pooling, loaner vehicles, and rental cars can be a major inconvenience.
But the truth is that you can often easily save money on car repairs by searching for online coupons and repair details. This helpful guide will get you started.
Cruising for savings
Your car is likely one of the biggest hits on your monthly budget, but the right strategies and know how can help you put a few dollars back in your wallet when repair needs arise.