Saving Money on Auto Repairs

With the economy still at a low, most people just do not have that extra cash stowed away for special situations. The average income for an American family is said to be around $30,437 per tax payer and has only increased about $59 over the last 40 years. Yet prices on everything else seem to always be on the rise. How we save money and why we save money has changed over the last few decades. It always feels good to have some money set away for emergencies, but many people don’t have this option and are living paycheck to paycheck. Chances are that you know someone (or are that someone) who lives on a strict budget and struggles to just get by. So what happens when auto troubles occur? How do you pay extra money (and sometimes a hefty bill) to keep your vehicle functioning properly and driving safely? To relieve some of the stress, it helps knowing what repairs cost the most, what could go wrong with those parts of the vehicle, and the importance of preventative maintenance in insuring that major repairs aren’t common during your tenure with your vehicle.

One of the most common mistakes but costly situations is related to the battery you are using. When your battery dies, it is easy to run to almost any store and purchase one. Unfortunately, most people choose the cheapest battery as a quick and easy fix. No one has time to wait for a battery service and a dead battery can ruin your day fast. However, using a cheap car battery can turn into an even bigger nightmare down the road. While the battery itself may cost only about $100, the cost to fix all of the parts affected by a cheap battery could create a total of almost $1000 in the blink of an eye. Poorly designed and cheap batteries tend to release a gas while in use and the gas collects, corroding the battery terminals. After some time, the corrosion will eventually eat away at the battery cables, causing high resistance in the charging system and forcing your alternator to work overtime and possibly even wear out. Invest a little extra money up front for a better battery and you could save hundreds of dollars down the road.

Another costly repair can occur when you use improper coolant or fail to flush your cooling system. When you do not flush this system, it can lead to head gasket problems which can cost around $1000 to repair and replace yet the service would have cost you only a couple of hundred. This also makes it easier for your radiator and cooling system to maintain and regulate temperatures, especially during extreme heat. It prevents a breakdown due to overheating and overworking. Each time you drive, the radiator uses up coolant and water mixture to help lower the temperatures in your vehicle’s engine system. Be sure to consider this service as part of your preventative maintenance to reduce the stress put on your engine and your cooling system and have your vehicle driving smoothly even when the temperature goes on the rise or you’re behind the wheel for longer period of time. Coolant, like many other vehicle fluids, can break down over time.

Tires are also an important part of routine maintenance that can help save many aspects of your vehicle. Improperly inflated tires and even failure to rotate your tires regularly can cost you anywhere between $350 and $2500 in repairs and replacements. Monitoring your tires can also insure your safety on the road. After your brakes, tires are the next most important safety feature there is. It is recommended that a driver checks their tire pressure almost weekly and note any changes. Many auto repair shops also check during routine maintenance services, but drivers should also take on some responsibility in monitoring their pressure. Incorrect tire pressure can compromise turning, cornering, braking, and the vehicle’s stability. It also affects fuel economy, tire wear, tire life, and your overall comfort and smooth ride. When it comes to being an expensive repair, it can impact your alignment, you may have to, purchase more times more often, and so on. You can lose up to 6% in gasoline mileage for every pound of under-inflation which can also keep you paying unnecessary money.

Transmission flushes are also important in preventing costly repairs, as well as using improper transmission fluid. Most vehicle owners know that the word “transmission” in a repair bill can get quite expensive. Some transmission repairs can cost between $2000-$4000! This can instantly create panic in anyone who owns a vehicle and doesn’t have extra money. Transmission fluid is vital in cleaning, cooling, and lubricating the moving parts inside of a transmission. Although a controversial service, many mechanics agree that there are more positives than negatives. Regular flushing of the transmission does indeed enhance the performance of the motor transmission. By flushing your transmission, the worn out and degraded transmission fluid is substituted with clean transmission fluid therefore revitalizing your vehicle’s transmission in a similar manner an oil change replenishes the engine. Both are vital services to protect the main organs of your vehicle – your engine and your transmission.

Regular preventative maintenance is critical to ensure the drivability, reliability, comfort, safety, and longevity of your vehicle. It costs money every now and then but it will save a lot of money in the long run. Owning a vehicle is certainly an investment and repairs will need to be done at some point. However, putting in the money for routine prevention and care is worth it. Americans spend on average $1209 each year on their vehicles when it comes to repairs. Typically after three to five years, the factory warranties on a car have expired or will soon thereafter and the cost will escalate as the car ages. According to the website Safe Car Guide, a car that is five years or slightly older and has more than 80,000 miles on it can cost about $900 a year in repairs. But depending on the repair and vehicle type, that estimate could easily increase. Some of the factors include maintenance and repair coverage, location, vehicle type and class, make and models, vehicle reliability rating, recalls, age of the vehicle, mileage, cost of the car parts, and others to name a few.

The true cost of ownership depends on how well you maintain the vehicle and what kind of vehicle you own. One consumer site states that the average cost of a new vehicle is $25,500. Choosing a cheaper vehicle will of course save you money but also be sure to do your research on the various types of vehicles on the market. By learning what types of vehicles tend to be reliable and weighing the advantages of different warranties, you could also end up saving a lot of money on repairs related to specific makes and models. Similarly when it comes to shelling out money on your vehicle, the personal finance website Bundle has calculated that the average American household spent $5,477 for gasoline and other car-related expenses such as vehicle repairs and preventative maintenance services last year. That may seem like a lot to some people and of course location plays a major role in how much gasoline and other expenses will cost you. But regardless of if you are on the high end or low end of these estimates, vehicles cost a lot of money to invest in, run at optimal performance, and maintain properly. With preventative maintenance, it is estimated that a car properly maintained after kept three years after your payments end will save you $20,000 to $30,000. That is some savings right there! It is also vital in keeping your vehicle safer on the road.

The more cost-saving measures you begin to follow, the more money you’ll save. By keeping a vehicle longer rather than trading every few years, you can actually save money in the long run. A poorly tuned or maintained car uses between 25% and 33% more gasoline each year. It’s cheaper to pay the cost of a tune-up or routine auto repair services than what you would, spend on gas and repairs down the road. It will always be a financial responsibility to own a vehicle and it is crucial to consider just how much investing in preventative maintenance can save you in the long, run.