Lending Club Blog

Frugal Tips to Save Money on Car Repairs

Unless you’re a mechanic, you probably dread the day you have to take your car into the shop. Whether it’s making an unusual noise or it’s just time to change the oil, you often end up spending more than you’d hoped. However it doesn’t have to be this way. With just a little bit of education, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year.

Start With a Reputable Brand

Consumer reports and auto magazines publish the latest reliability and durability studies on automobile brands.  Don’t buy a car for it’s looks or fad, but factor in functionality and maintenance cost.

Read Your Manual

Your car’s manual won’t tell you how to repair your car, but it will tell you how often maintenance needs to be done. You might be surprised to find out that you don’t have to change your oil every 3,000 miles – in fact, some cars only need it every 7,500 miles, or even every 10,000.

In addition, reading your manual will tell you when your timing belt, your transmission fluid, and other commonly serviced parts of your car need to be looked it. That way, you won’t end up falling victim to an upsell from a mechanic.

Avoid Repairs by Learning to DIY

Most cars, if taken care of and maintained properly, can last a long time without needing major repairs.  Learn to perform the basic maintenance yourself (or recruit the man if your life).  You’d be surprised how simple changing your oil, renewing spark plugs, updating your windshield wipers or topping off your liquids actually is.  Simple maintenance tasks done in a timely manner will keep you away from the mechanic’s operation table.

Track Your Repairs

It’s good to get into the habit of writing down the mileage and date of each repair you have done. That not only makes it easy to see at a glance if you need to get routine maintenance done, but it will also help you spot any problems. If, for instance, you had the brakes replaced several months ago and they’re already wearing down again, it’s time to look for another problem.

Get to Know Your Mechanic

While you don’t need to be buddy-buddy with the guys who fix your car, having some sort of relationship with them will help make sure that you get good service. If they come to know your car, too, they might be able to spot some trouble before it becomes something major. At the very least, having a relationship with your mechanic will often meant that they send you coupons in the mail, which you can use to lower your routine bills.

Know When To Part With Your Clunker

Let’s face it, cars won’t last you forever.  If your car has high mileage count, or keeps needing frequent stops by the mechanic, you may be better off getting rid of the clunker and getting into a new ride.  Do the numbers: add up all the repairs in the last 6-9 months and average it out for an approximate monthly maintenance bill.   Also look for potential residual value you can use to get yourself in a new car.

Have you found a good way to save money on car repairs? Share your tips with fellow readers in the comments.

Image courtesy of Teo Romera.

Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 4:45 am

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