A thorough list of how to save money on car repairs. Saving money on car repair is easy if you're willing to look around.
Car repairs are inevitable. They are merely a fact of life, something that every vehicle owner has to deal with. Parts deteriorate, belts break, tires get wear, and brakes stop stopping. You can save money on car repairs by using these simple tips.
1. Keep Your Mechanic at Bay
Most mechanics are reputable individuals. They will give you the best service for your money, because they know that they want to keep you as a returning customer, rather than a fly by night customer. They'll do their best work, and they'll even try to sell you MORE of their best work in the 'consultation' session that happens before any repair. Make sure that you emphasize that they repair ONLY what they're telling you that they'll repair and that any other tweaks have to be authorized.
2. Get a Free Diagnostic
Free diagnostics at the auto parts stores are absolutely awesome. You can find out about the repairs which need to be done, and make the decisions from there. Mechanics usually charge for the use of their machines, but the parts stores will give you the diagnostics for free in the hopes that you'll use their services.
This is always a risky proposition, but if you know that the repair isn't a major issue, you can get away with waiting and not spending your hard earned money on the repairs that your mechanic is proposing. This is something that's only really suggested after you've done some research to find out how urgent the problem is.
4. Make Sure Your Repair is Necessary
Along those same lines, you want to make sure that the repair you're doing is absolutely necessary. There are many repair shops which will give you a song and dance about what is needed and what's not. If you get the feeling that the mechanic is pulling your leg, get another opinion on the matter.
5. Look for Awesome Coupons
Like with all other businesses, promotional coupons are offered to bring you into the store. If you're able to find a coupon for free oil changes or many dollars off of the repair, then use them. If you've been a long standing customer of a mechanic, they will often give you loyalty coupons to make sure that you stay a customer.
6. Use a Shadetree Mechanic
It sometimes becomes very useful to have a friend of the family or an acquaintance who's good with cars. They will often charge you reduced rates on the labor, but make sure that they can do the job. When you're thinking about using an uncertified mechanic, ask around to see if they've done any of your friend's cars.
7. Find Out How Hours are Computed
Mechanics will often charge book time, which is the industry standard for certain repairs. This can sometimes vary greatly from actual time. Sure, this is very nice when the mechanic takes longer than the industry standard, but quite often they will put the fastest mechanic on the job - one who completes the work in significantly less than the book.
8. Buy Your Own Parts
You can find parts for cheaper than the mechanic most anywhere, because you're also paying the mechanic for the purchase and the transportation of the parts. There are several places online where you can buy parts for significantly less, including eBay. Take a look around for an online site which has a customer service number that you can talk with a real human.
9. Regular Maintenance
Maintenance is one of the most important things for your vehicle. Make sure that you get the air filters changed, the oil changed, and everything else performed according to the schedule within your owner's manual. Doing the little things to keep your car happy will prolong its life as well as prevent serious repair charges down the road.
10. Get it Done at Once
If you're paying the labor anyway, get all of the repairs done on the vehicle that you can. Most of the time, you will receive a discount from the mechanic since they've already torn apart the car. This author has saved hundreds of dollars in repair bills by using this method.
11. Set a Budget
If you've only got a couple hundred bucks to spend on the job, tell your mechanic. They'll be more than happy to fix only the most important things that are wrong with your car. When you talk with them, set the budget just a little bit lower than what you're willing to spend, because they'll always try to upsell you.
12. Check Your Tires
Tires are essential parts of your vehicle, and often overlooked. With improper tire pressure or worn tires, many problems with brakes, alignment, and suspension are heightened. This one would normally go under the 'regular maintenance' category, but it was so important that it deserved a separate listing.
13. Do Your Own
Learn how to do your own minor repairs. You can get an oil change or change an air filter. You do want to make sure that the repairs that you're doing are within your skill set - you don't want to have your mechanic fix the mistakes that you made. They'll generally charge a little bit more for the effort.
14. Discover What Would Happen
Ask the mechanic what would happen if the repair isn't made. If they're not able to paint the appropriate doom and gloom scenario for your vehicle, you probably don't need to get the repair done in the first place. Most of the time, the bad thing that can happen is getting stranded on the side of the road.
The less that you use your vehicle, the less wear and tear on that vehicle. The less wear and tear, the fewer repairs that you've got to have done. When you carpool, you're taking a little bit of the strain off of the vehicle, and prolonging its life.
Craigslist is like the Las Vegas of the internet. You can get anything there, including mechanics, car parts, and more if you know where to look. Individuals will often offer great deals on parts and labor, deals which you might not get from your mechanic of choice.
17. Shop Around
Shopping around is a great way to get an idea about what auto repair shops are charging for their services. This works well if you know what the problem is, as you can merely call the shop and find out over the phone. If you've got to come in, they'll be more than happy to do a diagnostic for a small fee.
18. Dealers Love to Charge
Dealers charge premium money for the premium service that they sell. The parts and service are going to be under warranty, more than likely, but sometimes it's just not worth going to the dealership with so many reputable mechanics around.
19. Written Quotes
Even if you're getting your car repaired by one of the friend's neighbors, you want to make sure that you get something in writing. They might be doing you a service by fixing your car at such a cheap price, but you also want to make sure that you're somewhat protected against price gouging.
Junkyards have all types of car parts available. The best advantage for junkyards is that they're like yard sales - you never know what you're going to get unless you visit them. Great for finding body parts on those older cars, as well as headlights and door frames.
21. Record Your Repairs
Keep a journal of all of the repairs which are done on your vehicle. As more time passes between services, the exact details tend to get a little fuzzy. Notice anything that might be out of sorts with your car, like the little squeaks and dings.
22. Look for Cheaper Ways
Some mechanics are willing to use less expensive methods of getting the particular problem fixed. This is prevalent with shadetree mechanics, who are often willing to use duct tape to fix the major problems with your auto. Look for any substitutions that your mechanic is willing to do - even if it's not under warranty, it might still be a valid repair.
23. Get Another Vehicle
Sometimes you have to know when to say when. If you're pouring cash into the car and you're not getting many miles from that cash, it might be time to get another one. Used ones won't set you back as much as used ones. Check out the blue book site which can give you estimates on what you'll pay for a used vehicle.
24. Go to RepairPal
This is an awesome site which will give you an idea of what you'll be expected to pay for any given repair. That way, you'll know if something is outlandish when it's quoted to you. Be warned - sometimes the repairs that you're needing really DO cost as much as the mechanic is charging you.
25. Extended Warranty
Many car owners are iffy on this particular tip. Their cars didn't break down when they got the extended warranty and they saw it as a chunk of change flying out the window. I've had more luck with it, having gotten thousands of dollars worth of work done under that warranty. Right before the car loses its warranty, see what repairs can be done on someone else's dime. You might be amazed.
Saving money on car repair isn't rocket science. It can be done by anyone who's willing to look around for the best deals and negotiate with their mechanic.