The family car is a major financial investment, and for many of us it is not so much a luxury as a necessity. We need our cars to get to work, to shuttle the kids back and forth to school, or even to get ourselves to and from school. So nothing is more irritating, or financially inconvenient, than having the family car break down. There are numerous essential costs for car owners such as road tax, car insurance, fuel etc before you even consider any additional repair costs. Car repairs are expensive, and even a small repair job can put a major dent in the family budget. But there are ways to save money on car repairs and maintenance. All it takes is a little know how, and a bit of forward thinking.
Get Familiar with Your Owner’s Manual
Now, you don’t have to understand your owner’s manual inside and out, and no one expects you to be able to perform the repairs yourself. Still, it is important to read through your owner’s manual so that you understand the manufacturer’s recommendations on scheduled maintenance. Maintaining your vehicle throughout the year will keep it running efficiently, and will help you avoid any unexpected repairs. An ounce of prevention can go a long way to saving you money on car repairs.
Find a Reputable Auto Shop
This can be easier said than done, but once you find a reputable auto repair shop you should stick to them like glue. Ask friends and co-workers if they have a repair shop that they depend on, and trust, for all of their auto repairs. Look for shops that employ ASE certified technicians, and that specialize in your make and model of vehicle. Before turning your vehicle over for any kind of service, get a look at the shop. Is it clean and well maintained? If the shop is dirty, or cluttered with parts and tools, you may not want to trust them with your car.
This goes hand in glove with reading the owner’s manual and understanding the manufacturer’s recommendations for scheduled maintenance. It also offers a good opportunity to test out a local auto shop to see what they have to offer. When you take your vehicle in for service, say a standard oil change and filter replacement, look at the shop’s pricing structure. Does it look fair for your area? If the mechanic tries to talk you into any added maintenance services, ask yourself if they adhere to the manufacturer’s suggested requirements. If you can’t afford to have all of the maintenance work done at one time, is the mechanic willing to prioritize the work and set up a schedule that suits your budget? These simple factors will help you find a mechanic that offers quality service at reasonable prices, so when you do need a major repair you can be sure you will be spending your money wisely.
Watch for Warning Signs
Cars are pretty sophisticated these days, and your dashboard provides information on more than just speed and mileage. Those engine lights, oil lights, and brake lights, are all there for a reason – to warn you if impending trouble. Ignoring these warning signs can turn a simple inexpensive repair into a major headache. If one of your dashboard indicator lights comes on, have it seen to promptly. The money you spend on a simple repair can mean big savings down the line.
Whenever Possible, Do It Yourself
You can do some simple maintenance jobs yourself, and save a fair amount of money in the bargain. Windshield wipers, tail lights, and even air filters are relatively easy to replace, and it is much cheaper to do it yourself than to take into the shop. If you are unsure about the parts you need, ask the parts person at your local auto parts store. They are usually happy to walk you through anything you don’t understand, if only to keep you as a repeat customer.
Car repairs can put a significant ding in the family budget, but by following these few simple tips it is possible to keep those repair costs under control. Find a mechanic you can trust, get your car serviced regularly, do some of the work yourself, and you can save hundreds of dollars every year on car repairs.