According to a AAA survey, 64 million Americans wouldn’t be able to handle the cost of an unexpected car repair bill. On average, car repairs cost between $500 and $600 per instance. Although some bills can be significantly higher. Finding ways to reduce the car repair expenses can make all of the difference. Thus, allowing vehicle owners to get the fixes they need without breaking the bank. If you need to lower the cost of getting your car repaired, here are some tips that can help.
Check Your Warranty
If your vehicle is newer, it may still be under warranty. Usually, manufacturers provide bumper-to-bumper coverage for a specific number of years as well as power train warranties for a longer period.
Additionally, some dealerships offer additional warranties. For example, if you bought your vehicle from a dealer that provides a “warranty for life.” You may have coverage as long as you own the car through the dealership. Essentially, these programs extend warranties past what the manufacturer provides as a way to entice shoppers to make a purchase there.
As long as you have been properly maintaining your vehicle. You might be able to get your car fixed either for free or for a small deductible. While warranty terms and conditions can vary, it is worth checking if you want to get your car fixed for less.
Research Recalls and TSBs
If your car problem is related to a recall. You might be able to get it fixed for free. Recalls occur when there is a substantial flaw with an aspect of the vehicle. Therefore, the manufacturer handles the repair, typically at no cost to you.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, part of the US Department of Transportation, maintains a recall database. All you need to do is input your VIN. The website will let you know if there is a recall that applies to your vehicle.
Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) can also help you get lower-cost car repairs. A TSB is usually sent to dealerships when the manufacturer identifies an issue but doesn’t end up performing a full recall. However, since they aren’t easily accessed by consumers, you may have to ask repair shops if there are any TSBs associated with your vehicle. You can also research safety problems through the NHTSA website beyond recalls.
Look for Coupons
Many auto repair shops send out coupons regularly. They may publish them on their website. They may also send them out to their email list, or print them in newspaper flyers.
If you want to reduce the cost of car repairs, take steps to gather coupons. Sign up for email newsletters from local shops. Review flyers you receive in coupon circulars or the newspaper. Explore the shop websites for deals.
Whenever you find a discount, save it. Whether you create a file in your email or use a physical folder. Stashing the coupons away allows you to review them if you need a repair unexpectedly.
If you have a costly car repair that needs addressing, consider shopping around. Auto shops can charge wildly different rates for the same work and parts. So it doesn’t hurt to contact several places before you go ahead with a repair.
Additionally, it is important to understand that even if you get a diagnostic performed at one shop. You do not have to authorize them to do the work. You can take that information and reach out to other locations for quotes to see if another place can offer a better deal.
However, make sure you focus your search on reliable repair shops with strong reputations, both for performing good work and offering great customer service.
If you usually use a particular auto repair shop but found a better deal elsewhere, consider calling your usual location and see if they are willing to match the price. While not all places are willing (or able) to negotiate, others will, so it rarely hurts to ask. This is especially true if you have been a loyal customer for a long period, as they may offer you a discount as a sign of goodwill or a reward for remaining a long-term customer.
Order Your Own Parts
Some repair shops will use parts you provide to fix your car. This allows you to shop around for the best deal on the parts you need, potentially saving you some cash.
If you go this route, just make sure you know exactly what you need. Buying the wrong part not only delays your repair, but it could cost you more if the place you purchase the parts from doesn’t have a generous return policy. Plus, you also have to factor in shipping costs. Some parts are very heavy, so you might offset any savings on the price due to those charges. Additionally, if you have to pay the shipping yourself on a return, that could be more money going down the drain.
Contact an Auto Repair School
Students who are learning about auto body and vehicle repairs hone their skills on actual cars. In some cases, you can find out if the school is willing to take your car on as a project, allowing the students to get hands-on experience with the repair you need.
While the work is done by students, it is overseen by the instructors, so the quality of the result is usually strong. Additionally, many schools don’t charge for labor costs. Instead, you might only need to contend with a small shop fee and the price of any parts. Eliminating the labor charge has a big impact on the cost of the work.
However, using an auto repair school could mean having to wait longer to get the repair handled. In some cases, you’ll be placed on a long waiting list. Additionally, some schools don’t operate year-round, so there could be periods where they simply aren’t open. But, it doesn’t hurt to reach out, as it might go quicker than you’d think.
Consider the DIY Approach
If you are mechanically savvy and already have the tools you need, you might be able to perform certain repairs yourself. Certain fixes – like replacing air filters and handling oil changes – are surprisingly simple. Even dealing with changing your brake pads isn’t too cumbersome, particularly since there are tons of guides and videos that can guide new DIY auto repairers through the process.
However, while this approach can be cheaper, it isn’t necessarily risk-free. If something isn’t repaired correctly, you could do more harm to your car, leading to a higher repair cost once you do get it to a shop. As a result, big repairs – including clutch replacements, A/C repairs, work on or near the airbags, windshield replacements, automatic transmission repairs, major body repairs, and similar fixes – need to be handled by a professional.
Ultimately, by following the tips above, you can get your car repaired without breaking the bank. Just make sure to exercise good judgment during the process, including when selecting a shop or deciding to DIY the work.
Do you have a tip that can help someone repair their car without breaking the bank? Share it in the comments below.