Vehicle ownership is one of the largest expenses we occur monthly, next to housing costs. While some consider it a luxury, for others like parents, it’s a necessity. There are many ways to keep costs down like being mindful of your gas mileage, shopping around for low financing rates, or buying used. However, one thing that is generally unavoidable is the cost of repairs. Unfortunately, a huge repair bill can easily make or break your bank account in any given month, so learning to save on repairs seems like a no-brainer… but how? Here are 6 ways you can save money on car repairs.
This post has been sponsored by Cars.com
1. Learn to DIY
This has been a saving grace for me, especially when I was much younger and much more broke. Simple things like changing spark plugs and wires, or knowing how to change your own flat tire can save you hefty shop minimum fees. A job that takes 5 minutes is usually still billed as 1 hour in a shop so educating yourself and doing what you can, what you feel comfortable with, and what is safe on your own is easy money. It also gave me a much better understanding of my vehicle and how it actually, really works which in turn gave me confidence as a vehicle owner.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Buying Parts Online
Gone are the days of visiting the dealership and having them order the
most expensive appropriate part you need. The internet has made it easier than ever to shop around for the parts you need at a fraction of the price. Aftermarket replacement parts can save you a considerable amount of money. The catch with this though, is ensuring your still buying quality. If you buy a part just because it’s cheap but you need to replace it more than once, you’re not actually saving any money. Using reputable sites like Cars.com to search for parts will give you peace of mind while helping you keep your bank account in check.
3. Shop Around for Repair Rates
Just like you would with financing and interest rates when you’re getting ready purchase, look around for the best repair shop rates, depending on your needs. The mechanic that does my oil changes is not the same one who balances my tires or does my breaks. I have specific shops that I visit depending on my needs because I get the best service for the best price. My $30 oil change at Shop A would be $60 at Shop B but my tire rotation could be $80 at Shop A and $50 at Shop B.
4. Understand Preventative Maintenance
Putting money into your car before it needs it may seem counterproductive to the budget friendly driver but it’s called preventative for a reason. It will help prevent costly repairs down the road. It also gives your mechanic a chance to look over your vehicle and make sure if something is on the brink of breaking, you know about it before it’s too late and does irreversible or costly damage. Here in Northern Ontario, a prime example of preventative maintenance is to have our vehicles under-sprayed once a year. This is imperative to protect our vehicles from severe rusting caused by the salt used on the winter roads. If you’ve ever had a vehicle body repair bill you’ll know the $100 investment for under-coating far outweighs the thousands of dollars it will cost to replace parts in a body shop.
5. Avoid Duplicate Replacement Charges
This follows preventative maintenance only because it’s a similar concept. If your mechanic is already pulling out and replacing parts of your vehicle and you know in the near future they’ll need to replace something in the same area, just bite the bullet and get it done at the same time. They’re already in that area of your vehicle and combining these types of repairs can save you hundreds of dollars in hourly fees. Yes, it sucks when you may be able to get a few more months out of it the way it is now but break down the cost monthly and you’ll see it’s a smart investment to get it over with. Why pay twice for the technician to access that area or parts?
6. Be Prepared
As I mentioned earlier, at the end of the day sometimes a hefty repair bill is simply unavoidable. It’s a part of vehicle ownership we learn to accept. They break down. In the event of an unexpected repair, could you easily cover the cost or would you be reaching for your credit card? Having the foresight that it’s a legitimate possibility and having an emergency fund for situations like this can save you a decent amount of money on interest. Sure, that’s why many of us have credit cards — for emergencies, but when you’re paying off a bill that can easily add up to thousands, save where you can. Not paying interest is good place to start.
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