5 ways to offset unexpected car repair costs

You entered as a fuel substitute. You went with the selected bill as long as your arm.

Expensive services are a reality for many car owners, especially for those whose maintenance has been delayed. According to the insurance market SmartFinancial, the cost of auto parts has increased since the beginning of 2021.

Many people don’t trust their mechanics to do just what is needed. You shouldn’t take all fixes for granted – but you shouldn’t reject them either. Instead, learn to ask good questions, and ask yourself questions about how you behave and how you continue to serve.

The quality of the parts and driving habits affect the maintenance time

Some maintenance is recommended at regular intervals, such as an oil change every 6,000 miles, while other services occur at irregular intervals. Variable maintenance depends on how often your vehicle breaks down and how often the parts need to be serviced.

Things like batteries “usually have a lifespan, and the more you spend on them, the longer they last,” says Nicole Miskelley, manager of PMR Auto & Diesel Repair in Marion, Illinois.

Driving habits also have a rapid impact on maintenance. Two people driving the same car may need the same type of maintenance at different intervals, Miskelley said.

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Show me the money – and the maintenance

Most car owners can see a bald tire, but the problem comes when the mechanic advises the maintenance of the problem that the driver does not see.

Miskelley estimates that about 60% of his customers who come in for regular maintenance know there is something else that needs to be done to their car. In some cases it is based on the distance of the car; other times, it’s something a technician notices during a quick inspection of the vehicle.

But we can’t confirm that a proposal is legal rather than trying to take advantage of car owners, some drivers are skeptical of mechanics.

According to AAA, 63% of Americans don’t trust their mechanic’s recommendations. The main reason is the experience of unwanted recommendations and paying too much for the service. However, mechanical insecurity can lead to outdated maintenance and higher costs later on.

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Pay now or pay later

The AAA 2022 study estimates that car owners pay 9.68 cents per mile for maintenance and repairs over five years – about $1,300 per year.

And those costs only increase as the vehicle ages: Consumer Reports’ 2021 Annual Auto Surveys showed that the maintenance and repair costs of a 10-year-12-month vehicle are nearly double that of a 5-year-old vehicle.

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So it’s no surprise that IMR Inc., an automotive market research company, found that 24.1% of drivers delayed service or repairs in the third quarter of 2022. And the survey A recent study by United Tires found that 52.2% of drivers who delayed maintenance cited the cost. as a reason.

But a small problem can “range from zero to 60,” Miskelley said, which can lead to more problems and higher bills down the road. And according to the same United Tires study, regularly postponing maintenance adds an average of $1,193 to maintenance costs over the course of a vehicle’s ownership.

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5 tips to cover unexpected car maintenance costs

1. Create an emergency car account

In addition to a general emergency account, having a savings account for unexpected car expenses helps you prepare financially, says Peter Locke, certified financial analyst and chief financial planner. at InSight, a financial planning firm. Preparing for these expenses is part of owning a car, just like preparing for home maintenance.

2. Research recommended maintenance

It can be expensive to accept wholesale all the recommended maintenance. Research mechanics recommendations to learn what’s involved, how it affects your vehicle’s performance and when it should be done.

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3. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask a mechanic for more information about maintenance and why it should be done. This will help you make a decision based on the condition of your vehicle.

“Whenever you’re talking to a mechanic, you should be able to clearly explain why they’re doing what they’re doing,” Miskelley said. “And what are the long-term consequences of preventing it.”

4. Maintenance research

Just like comparing hotel or flight prices, compare car maintenance quotes, says Locke.

Dropping your car off at the nearest auto shop may be the fastest option, but that doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest. Ask around to see if you can get a better deal.

5. Make the most of your work

Some maintenance may not be as urgent as other services. Look at your budget and the services offered to find a plan to deal with the necessities first.

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It should be able to help you prioritize your mechanical maintenance, says Miskelley. Safety issues should be “done immediately to keep your car alive in ‘now we recommend that the time has come.’

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Whitney Vandiver writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]


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