When it comes to saving on car repairs over the course of a lifetime, taking care of the car or truck you currently have is first and foremost. Just doing the basics regularly can keep you away from repairs significant enough to feel it in your bank account or keep you off the road altogether. However, that’s not the only part of staying prepared for costs on the roadway.
As a car owner, depending on your level of interest, it could take years to learn some of the tips and tricks that will likely save you thousands over the course of your lifetime. However, we’re here to make sure you don’t have to do that. Auto care can be very complicated, but getting in front of problems with preventative measures and safety nets can help keep things cheap and simple.
Here are some tips to keep you out of the body shop and your pocketbook.
5 Maintenance and Car Owner Tips for Saving on Car Repairs
As we said, maintenance is great and is something we’ll cover, but something people tend to leave out to new car owners is the number of other measures they can take to save money should something go wrong with their car. Compared to repair costs, all of these tips have a low financial burden and most tools will pay for themselves on first use.
- Doing Regularly Scheduled Maintenance
Doing regularly scheduled maintenance extends a car’s life and there are youtube videos for all of it. A few things that would fall under regular maintenance would include oil changes, tire rotations, replacing tires, keeping fluids full and clean, and keeping filters unclogged. All of these are measures that are cheap on their own and that when accounted for, keep your car from disaster.
Take care of these things and it will help you avoid engine failure due to lack of care as well as potentially dangerous mishaps that could happen on the road and leave you in an accident or with the frame or axles of your car seriously damaged. However, be aware that doing these things more often than recommended, particularly oil changes, might not necessarily make a difference, and can waste resources.
- Getting the Tools for the Job
There’s no one reason we can point to as to why auto care is so expensive, but one constant is the cost of labor. For check engine light repairs, often some of the simplest tasks, the lowest average price per state was a whopping $125.95, and per-hour rates across the nation range from anywhere from about $60 – $150 an hour. Dealerships will be on the high end of that. All of this is to say, if you can figure out how to do it yourself in a decent amount of time, you will save a ton of money on repairs and maintenance.
This of course means having the tools and parts to do the job yourself. The tools you’ll need for most auto jobs will more than cover themselves in their first use, and will continue to help take care of things for a long time to come.
- Having Roadside Assistance
Roadside assistance can be a great investment if you’re dealing with an older car or one that’s become a problem. Often for somewhere between 25-60 dollars a year, you can assure yourself service for vehicle lockouts, towing needs, help with tire changes, battery replacement, and a number of other services that will cost you that or more if you wait til they’re needed to address the cost. Depending on the tier of your plan, you can ensure yourself more or less of this coverage. AAA is a long-trusted option, but most auto insurance and many auto dealers have programs and incentives built around roadside assistance.
- Buy the Parts Yourself
When it comes to saving on car repairs, a major aspect is buying the parts yourself. Even if the repairs are beyond you and your capabilities, buying the parts yourself can be a huge part of saving on repairs. Some car repair shops will have huge markups on car parts, and even the price difference from chain retailers to what you can easily find on the internet can be significant.
It’s such a factor in repair pricing, that some shops won’t do the job if they haven’t supplied the part. Most local shops, however, will work with you on this. This leads to our final factor in saving money on car repairs.
- Find a Mechanic You Can Trust
Aside from the regular care they put into their car, maybe the most important thing for the layman is finding a mechanic who they can trust. A good place to start if you’re new to town or a new car owner, is to call around town and get quotes on what you need done. This could give you lots of information about the type of customer service you’re likely to get, if a shop is overpricing from the start, and generally if you want to give them a chance.
From there, as you go through the process, you’ll get a sense for how upfront, fair, and honest the business is as well as for the quality of work. Finding a repair shop you like can be hard, but it could be the difference between good work at rock bottom prices or bad to average work with hundreds or thousands of price gouging included.
Be Prepared and Get Saving on Car Repairs
As someone who just saved up for their first new car or a young person driving for the first time, you probably have lots of ambitions in life, and if one of them includes being comfortable financially, then you should know that safeguarding your overall expenses is going to be key. Your car is just a start, but other than your home it will likely be your biggest, major recurring material cost. Whether or not you provide enough maintenance and coverage could be the difference between a hole in your pocket and having a financial advantage. For more auto care tips, check out all of the Joe’s Writers’ Club Blog.