How to Save on Auto Repair Costs
Having a car spells a world of convenience, but it can also mean a bundle of expenses. Aside from the obligatory registration and insurance costs, you have to plan out for auto repair costs. This is especially important if you have an old car or if you purchased a used car. Repair costs can run anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, you don’t need to feel anxious about spending a fortune whenever you take your car to the shop for repairs. Here are a few things to consider.
Compare Repair Costs and Services
With so many tools and resources available online these days, you can get any information that you need to make a smart decision about auto repair services. Before you go to a technician or your car dealer for a service, find out what are considered fair prices or quotes for your repair. There are websites and software applications that can give you a rate comparison from repair shops near or around your area. Some examples of helpful websites are repairpal.com, driverside.com, and automd.com. Just type in your car model, year, and the kind of service that you need, and they will provide you with a list of shops and average estimates.
Don’t Stick to Your Auto Dealer
You don’t have to feel obliged to bring your car to the dealer where you bought your car. There are independent and small car repair shops that may be able to provide the service that you need for a lower price. Moreover, you may even get faster service because they are not taking in as many jobs as dealer maintenance shops oftentimes do. Just make sure that you are bringing your car to a reputable shop or technician. It helps if you have recommendations from friends or if they have received good reviews from other customers.
Consider Extended Warranties
Some consumer advocates say that extended warranties are generally not worth the extra money that you will cough up to the car dealer. However, there may be some benefits that can and should be considered. If you are buying a used car and are planning to drive it over long distances or use it frequently, then an extended warranty may save you more money from costly repairs in the long run. You can have the peace of mind that you are protected from unforeseen expenses when the car breaks down or something needs to be fixed. Just make sure to read the fine print, so that you know the extent of your coverage.
Do a Regular Car Tune-up and Check-up
Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on maintaining your car. This way you know when you need to take it for a tune-up and get an oil change. It may seem like an inconvenience to take your car in for a tune-up, but if you consider the astronomical costs of repair when something breaks down, a tune-up twice a year is a lot cheaper. You are also extending the life of your car with proper maintenance. Regularly check parts that are at risk of damage or break down: spark plugs, brakes, air filter, tires, and the radiator.
Learn About Basic Repair
Try to know more about your car and basic troubleshooting techniques. Whenever you bring your car for a repair, ask the mechanic or technician to explain the process of what they will do to fix the problem. This will give you an idea the next time that you encounter the same problem. There are many shops that sell do-it-yourself (DIY) kits and they come with detailed instructions that you can follow. If the problem is not too serious and you are confident to take on the task, then you can do the repair on your own. You won’t have the need to run to a shop every time something needs to be fixed in your car.
Don’t Go for the Lowest Quote
When you do estimate comparisons, do not look at price alone as the determining factor. Remember that this could also be a case of getting what you pay for. Some car repair shops come up with promotional gimmicks to lure new customers. But, there are a lot of scams in auto repair; if you are not knowledgeable about such things, then you can easily fall prey to these tricks. Evaluate service records and customer reviews if there are any available. This would be particularly helpful, especially if you are not familiar with the shop.
Maintain Proper Driving Habits
There are many cases when car problems arise because of improper driving practices. You can save a lot on repair costs just by making sure that you are not running your car to the ground. If you are driving a car with manual transmission, then learn how to shift gears smoothly. Avoid making jackrabbit starts and stops. Use your car’s heaters or air conditioners sparingly; running them at maximum levels will only put excess pressure on your engine and cause it to break down.
Negotiate When You Can
If you have been using a repair shop for some time and have already established a rapport with the technician or the owner, then you should be in a position to ask for a good deal. One trade secret is that car repair shops do make a lot of margin on parts and services. This means that they can easily shave off a few dollars from the estimate and still end with a profit. The next time that you go for a repair service, don’t be afraid to ask. You can leverage on your repeat business or if there are multiple services that you need, then you can ask for a package rate. If they value your business, then they will most likely give in to your request.
Auto repair costs should not be like a bitter pill that you are forced to swallow. While the fact remains that your car would be requiring repairs or parts replacement during the course of its life, it does not need to be an expensive process all the time. Arming yourself with the right information about your car will save you the headaches when something breaks down. This will also help you plan ahead and prevent any unnecessary trip to the repair shop.