It has happened to all of us. You are driving along and the car starts making a funny noise. What is that? How much is this going to cost?! I am no car expert but I have learned some ways to save money on car repairs. I am always afraid I’m going to get taken for a ride (pun intended) at the mechanic shop. First, I’m a woman and second, I know nothing about cars. Here are a few tips for all my frugal minded friends on how to save money on car repairs.
Preventative Maintenance: This is an obvious one, but the better you take care of your car’s preventative maintenance the longer it will last. The good part is that you can save money on this area as well. You don’t have to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles anymore. Most new cars and synthetic oil help you go longer in between oil changes. You may only need to do it a few times a year depending on your make and model.
Shop Around: For larger repairs, you will definitely want to shop around for several quotes. This way you are more informed and can negotiate to get the lowest possible price.
Do It Yourself: There is so much great information online that you can figure out how to do most of the basic repairs yourself. Just search Google or Youtube and get some great DIY videos and follow right along. This will help you save on things like oil changes, fuse and spark plug changes, and anything else you would feel comfortable doing yourself.
RepairPal: RepairPal.com is a great source for car repair and maintenance information. You can search for what common problems are for your car and how to fix them. You can search for reputable mechanics. My favorite feature is that you can search how much the repair to your car should cost so you can go to the repair shop informed.
Technical Schools: Check out your local technical school and see if they offer automotive repair classes. You may be able to get the students to work on your car for a fraction of the cost. It is up to you if you want novice technicians working on your car but they will be supervised. It is worth checking out.
Ask Your Friends: Word of mouth is a great way to find an honest mechanic. Your friends wouldn’t send you to someone who takes advantage or doesn’t get the job done. They may even have a friend that repairs cars on the side and could give you a discount. I have a neighbor that works on cars and he has fixed several easy things for me and only charged a very small fee compared to what I would have payed at a repair shop.
Buy Your Own Parts: A lot of people don’t know that you can get the parts needed for repair yourself. This cuts out the “middle man” at most repair shops. Just get the parts at Auto Zone or some place similar and you will only have to pay for the labor cost at the shop. Just be sure to get a warranty for the part in case it doesn’t work.
If you can, have an emergency fund set up for unexpected expenses like car repairs. I know it is not always an easy thing to do but it helps to have a few hundred dollars on hand to help with the costs. I’d like to hear from some of you. What are some of the ways you save on your car repairs? Feel free to let us know in the comments.