It might sound like a lot of money and reading up is required to stop your car from eating too far into your finances. That’s not necessarily true, however. The truth is that most drivers go to the mechanic when they don’t need to, eat the costs when they don’t need to, and don’t prepare for the inevitability of car issues as much as they should. Here are five ways for car owners of all kinds to save a little more money on their repairs.
Maintain, maintain, maintain
Prevention is the best cure, but the simple fact is that plenty of drivers aren’t putting much effort into maintenance at all. Your car should come with a log book that will cover how often it needs to get checked at the garage, but there’s plenty you can do from home. By checking tire pressure, tread wear, fluid levels, belts, hoses, and the like, you can be a lot more proactive at spotting potential issues. Find a reputable mechanic by seeing how they charge for simple oil and filter changes. Check that they provide transparent costs based on your model and mileage. If they do, then your regular maintenance checks can be your opportunity to spot little issues before they become big, costly conundrums.
Know what you can do yourself
Your mileage may vary with this one (pardon the pun) but most people are more capable of car repairs than they might initially expect. It takes a little investment to get the right tools to make some of the repairs you can handle yourself, but it can be worth it to avoid the costs of services that you get at mechanics. Changing brake pads, replacing a drive belt and replacing spark plugs are all examples of tasks you can easily enough handle in your own garage. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, then it’s best not to do it yourself. You can, however, source any replacements yourself. It might seem convenient that your mechanic will offer to do it for you, but you can get a broader range of suppliers offering better prices on quality components if you’re willing to look, yourself.
Plan for what you can’t
Of course, you’re likely not a mechanic if you’re reading these tips, so there are always going to be tasks ahead of you that you can’t do yourself. However, you can avoid the mistake of car owners who get themselves into a credit situation because they don’t have the money to pay for repairs on the day. It’s a helpful service that many mechanics provide, but it almost always ensures you’re paying more in the end. Instead, by setting aside a portion of your budget for car repair costs in advance, you’re never left in the position of having to offer credit in exchange. If you’ve owned your car for some time, you should look at the annual costs of repairs. Average them out to find your savings goal for much you’re likely going to have to spend on repairs this year.
Consider what your insurance will cover
There are some instances where you don’t have to pay directly, at all. A lot of people don’t realize that auto glass repair cost is often fully covered by their insurance, to choose one example. Some customer-friendly services will let you know and even talk to your insurance provider directly for you, but it’s best for the owner to know when they can expect to rely on insurance. That way, you avoid making the mistake of paying for repairs that you shouldn’t be. The same might go for any gadgets you buy for the car, as well.
Choose more reliable cars in future
If you’re getting close to the point where you need to replace your vehicle, then consider prioritizing something more than aesthetics or speed. Think about weighing your judgments more in favor of the car’s reliability. There are lots of guides like the Reliability Index which don’t offer just scores but go into a detailed breakdown of the car’s longevity, including which parts are most likely to need a reply. Beyond helping you choose a car that will need fewer trips to the garage it provides you with info that can help you prepare a more accurate repair budget in advance.
Know your car, know your insurance, know your costs. That’s the best way to make sure that any measly problems don’t have a much bigger impact on your money than they should. Even adopting one or two of the tips above can make sure you’re driving a safer car for much less.