When it comes to car repairs, the unexpected is always something we worry about. No one wants to be caught off guard by a big bill they can’t afford. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are 10 tips and tricks to help you save your wallet when those unexpected car repairs come up.
1. Keep Up With Routine Maintenance: a Checklist
Check your oil level and quality
You should check your oil at least once a month, and more frequently if you notice it starts to look dirty sooner. If it’s been a while since your last oil change, now is a good time to get it done.
Inspect Your Tires
Check the tread depth and air pressure of all four tires. If you need new tires, spring is a great time to get them because many stores run specials.
Clean Your Headlights and Taillights
Over time, the plastic lenses on your headlights can become cloudy and yellowed, which can reduce your visibility while driving at night.
A quick cleaning with some soapy water can help improve their clarity. While you’re at it, check your brake lights and turn signals to make sure they’re working properly.
Test Your Battery
A dead battery is one of the most common causes of car trouble, so it’s important to test it regularly and replace it if necessary. Most auto parts stores will test your battery for free.
Flush and Fill Your Coolant System
This is something that should be done every two years or so, but if you haven’t done it in a while, now is a good time.
Check All Your Fluids
In addition to coolant, you should also check your power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield wiper fluid levels and top them off if necessary.
Clean Out Your Car
Over the winter months, our cars tend to become cluttered with all kinds of things: snow gear, road salt, receipts, fast food wrappers…the list goes on. Take some time to clear out the clutter and give your car a good cleaning inside and out.
Get an Alignment (if needed)
If you notice that your car seems to be pulling to one side when you’re driving or that your steering wheel is no longer centered when you’re driving straight, then you may need an alignment. Many tire stores offer this service for free or at a discounted rate, so it’s worth checking into if you think you may need one.
Get a Tune-Up (if needed)
Just like any machine, over time our cars’ engines start to lose efficiency as parts begin to wear down or become dirty. Getting a tune-up can help restore lost power and improve fuel economy by replacing worn parts and cleaning dirty ones. Many mechanics will offer discounts on tune-ups this time of year as well, so be sure to ask about that when you take your car in.
2. Don’t Ignore Your Check Engine Lights
If you’re like most drivers, you probably don’t pay much attention to your car’s check engine light until it comes on. And when it does, you might be tempted to ignore it, thinking it’s just a false alarm.
However, ignoring your check engine light can actually lead to more expensive car repairs down the road. The check engine light is designed to alert you to problems with your car’s engine, and if you ignore it, the problem is likely to get worse.
As a result, you could end up facing a hefty repair bill instead of a simple fix. So next time your check engine light comes on, don’t ignore it. Take your car in for a tune-up so you can avoid costly repairs down the road.
3. Drive Like You Want to Save Money
One of the best ways to keep your car in good shape is to drive safely. Accidents not only put a dent in your bank account, but they can also cause long-term damage to your vehicle.
Even a minor fender bender can result in bent frame components or alignment issues. And if you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a serious collision, you could be facing repairs that cost thousands of dollars.
If you want to save money, it’s important to practice safe driving habits. That means obeying the speed limit, using turn signals, and always being aware of your surroundings. By taking care on the road, you can help keep your car in good condition and avoid expensive repairs down the line.
4. Find Reputable Repair Shops
Any homeowner knows that there are certain repair jobs that are best left to the professionals. But when it comes to car repairs, even the most mechanically inclined among us can be hesitant to open up our hoods and take a look.
That’s why it’s so important to find a reputable car repair shop that you can trust. A good mechanic will be honest about what needs to be fixed and will give you a fair estimate of the cost. They should also be able to answer any questions you have about the work they’re doing.
Furthermore, a good car repair shop will stand behind its work and offer a warranty on parts and labor. By taking the time to find a reputable shop, you can save yourself money in the long run by avoiding bad workmanship.
5. Shop Around for Repair Estimates
When your car needs repairs, it can be tempting to just take it to the first shop you find and get the work done as quickly as possible. However, this may not be the best option if you’re looking to save money.
Instead, it’s a good idea to shop around for repair estimates. You may be surprised to find that there is a wide range of prices out there for the same service. By taking the time to compare estimates, you can be sure that you’re getting the best possible deal on your car repairs.
You may also want to ask around for recommendations. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues who have had recent experiences with car repairs. They may be able to point you in the direction of a good mechanic who can do the job at a fair price.
6. Invest in an Extended Warranty
No one likes paying for car repairs, but it’s an unfortunate reality of car ownership. Thankfully, there is a way to help offset the cost of repairs—an extended warranty.
An extended warranty is an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairs to your vehicle after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
An extended warranty can save you money in a number of ways.
- It can help you avoid costly repairs
- It can give you peace of mind knowing that if something does go wrong with your car, you’re covered
- It can provide discounts on parts and labor
If you’re thinking about buying an extended warranty, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Make sure you understand what is and is not covered by the warranty.
- Consider the length of the warranty and whether it’s worth the cost.
- Compare different warranties to find the one that best meets your needs.
- Read resources like Protect My Car reviews to make sure you are well-educated on the topic.
What Is Covered by an Extended Warranty?
An extended warranty typically covers major components of your car such as the engine, transmission, and suspension. It may also cover electrical components, air conditioning, and navigation systems. Some extended warranties even cover routine maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations.
It’s important to note that not all extended warranties are created equal. Some only cover certain parts of your car while others cover just about everything. Be sure to read the fine print so you know exactly what is and is not covered by your warranty.
How Long Does an Extended Warranty Last?
Extended warranties typically last for one to four years after the expiration of your manufacturer’s warranty. The length of the warranty will affect the price, so be sure to choose a length that makes sense for you based on your driving habits and budget.
How Much Does an Extended Warranty Cost?
The cost of an extended warranty varies depending on the length of the coverage and the make and model of your car. In general, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,500 for an extended warranty.
An extended warranty is an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairs to your vehicle after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. It can save you money in a number of ways by helping you avoid costly repairs, providing peace of mind, and giving discounts on parts and labor.
7. Educate Yourself on What’s Necessary for Common Car Repairs
As your car ages, it will inevitably need repairs. Some of these repairs may be simple and easy to do yourself, while others will require the help of a qualified mechanic.
However, regardless of the complexity of the repair, it is important to educate yourself on what is necessary to fix the problem. This way, you can spot when a mechanic is trying to take advantage of you. For example, if your car needs a new battery, a mechanic may try to sell you a complete tune-up.
However, if you know that a new battery is all that is needed, you can save yourself time and money by finding a mechanic who is honest about the necessary repairs. In short, by educating yourself on common car repairs, you can avoid being taken advantage of by dishonest mechanics.
8. Buy Your Own Parts
It’s no secret that car repairs can be expensive. Whether you need a new engine or simply an oil change, the costs can quickly add up.
One way to save money on car repairs is to buy your own parts. This way, you can be sure that you’re getting high-quality parts at a fair price.
Some mechanics will buy parts and then upcharge you for the parts in addition to the labor costs. By buying your own parts, you can ensure that you’re getting a good deal and avoiding any markups.
However, not everyone is comfortable with shopping for car parts. But, if you’re willing to do some research and get your hands dirty, buying your own parts can be a great way to save money on car repairs.
9. DIY Easy Auto Repairs
With today’s cars, it’s easy to forget that they’re still machines that need regular maintenance and repairs. But just because your car is a complex machine doesn’t mean that you can’t do some of the repairs yourself! Here are 8 easy auto repairs that you can do yourself, with no mechanic required.
Fix a Scratched Paint Job
If your car has a small scratch in the paint, you can easily fix it yourself with a little touch-up paint. Just make sure to buy the right kind of paint for your car’s make and model.
Get Rid of Dents
Dents are unsightly and can devalue your car, but they’re surprisingly easy to fix yourself. All you need is a plunger and some boiling water. First, boil a pot of water and pour it over the dented area. Then, place the plunger over the top of the dent and push and pull until the dent pops out. Let the area cool and dry before touching it or driving your car.
Replace Your Headlight Bulbs
Headlight bulbs burn out eventually, but you don’t need to go to a mechanic to replace them. Just pop open the hood of your car and find the headlight assembly. Then, twist out the old bulb and screw in the new one. It’s really that simple!
Change Your Oil
This is one repair that you definitely don’t want to put off for too long. Changing your oil regularly will extend the life of your engine and keep your car running smoothly.
To change your oil, just locate the oil drain plug under your car and remove it with a wrench. Then, let all of the old oil drain out into a pan before replacing the drain plug and adding new oil to the engine.
Fix a Loose Door Handle
A loose door handle can be annoying, but it’s an easy fix. All you need is a screwdriver! Just remove the screws holding the door handle in place and tighten them until they’re snug but not too tight.
Replace Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers are another crucial component of your car that you don’t want to neglect. They should be replaced at least once per year, but more often if they start leaving streaks on your windshield.
To replace them, just lift up on the wiper arm until it pops off, then remove the old wiper blade by sliding it off of its metal frame. Snap on a new wiper blade in its place, then repeat on the other side.
Fix a Sticking Key
If your key gets stuck in the ignition or door lock, there’s an easy way to fix it! Just spray some WD-40 into the keyhole and wait a few minutes before trying again. The lubricant will help loosen up any rust or grime that’s preventing your key from moving smoothly.
Bleed Your Brakes
If your brakes feel spongy when you press down on them, it’s time to bleed them! This process releases any air bubbles that have gotten into the brake lines, which can prevent your brakes from working properly.
To bleed your brakes, first, find the bleeder valve on each wheel (it will look like a small knob or lever). Then, open up each valve slightly and have someone press down on the brake pedal while you watch for fluid to come out without any bubbles.
Close up each valve when fluid starts coming out steadily, then move on to the next wheel until all four have been bled!
10. Make Sure You Have Great Insurance Coverage
It’s a pain to pay for, and even more of a pain when you get into an accident. But there are ways to save money on car insurance, and we’re here to help you find them!
Shop Around and Compare Rates
Just like with anything else, it pays to shop around when you’re looking for car insurance. There are a lot of different companies out there, and they’re all competing for your business.
That means that you can find some great deals if you take the time to look. Be sure to compare rates from at least three different companies before you make a final decision.
Consider Raising Your Deductible
Your deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance company starts paying for repairs.
Raising your deductible can be a great way to save money on your premiums. Just be sure that you have enough money saved up in case of an accident so that you don’t end up having to pay for everything yourself.
Take Advantage of Discounts
Many insurers offer discounts for things like having a good driving record, being a member of certain organizations, or taking defensive driving courses.
Be sure to ask about any discounts that might be available to you so that you can take advantage of them and save yourself some money.
Bundle Your Policies
If you have more than one type of insurance policy with the same company, you may be able to get a discount by bundling them together.
This is especially common with things like homeowners and auto insurance, but it can also apply to other types of insurance as well. It’s definitely worth asking about if you’re looking for ways to save money on your premiums.
Review Your Policy Regularly
Even if you’ve found what you think is the perfect policy, it’s important to review it regularly and make sure that it still meets your needs and that you’re still getting the best possible rate.
Things can change over time, and you may find that another company offers a better deal or that you no longer need certain coverage options that are included in your current policy. By reviewing your policy regularly, you can be sure that you’re always getting the best possible value for your money.
No one ever plans on getting their car repaired, but it’s something that we all have to face at some point in our lives. The cost of car repairs can be expensive, and it’s important to know how to save money on them. Here are a few actionable steps that you can take to reduce the cost of unexpected car repairs.
- Get multiple quotes before you choose a repair shop
Don’t just take your car to the first repair shop that you find. Get multiple quotes from different shops to compare prices. You may be able to save a significant amount of money by doing this.
- Ask for a discount
If you’re paying for repairs out-of-pocket, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Many repair shops are willing to give a discount to customers who pay in cash.
- See if you can do the repairs yourself
If you’re mechanically inclined, you may be able to do some of the repairs yourself. This can save you a significant amount of money.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I save money on unexpected car repairs?
There are a few things you can do to cut costs when your vehicle needs unanticipated repairs. First, if you have an emergency fund, use it to pay for the repairs. If you don’t have an emergency fund, try to negotiate with the repair shop for a lower cost. You can also look into getting a car repair loan from a bank or credit union.
2. What are some tips for negotiating with a repair shop?
If you’re not comfortable negotiating with the repair shop, you can ask a friend or family member to help you out. It’s also helpful to do some research on the average cost of the repair so you have an idea of what a fair price would be. When you’re speaking with the repair shop, be polite and firm in your negotiation.
3. Where can I get a car repair loan?
There are a few places you can get a car repair loan. You can start by checking with your bank or credit union to see if they offer any type of personal loan. You can also look into online lenders that specialize in car repair loans. Make sure to compare interest rates and terms before you choose a lender.
4. How do I prevent unexpected car repairs?
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent unexpected car repairs, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of needing them. First, make sure to regularly maintain your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This includes things like getting oil changes and tire rotations on schedule. You should also avoid driving recklessly and keep your car in good condition.
5. What should I do if my car needs an unexpected repair?
If your car needs an unexpected repair, the best thing you can do is to stay calm and follow the steps above. By being prepared and knowing what to do, you can save yourself time, money, and stress.