Money Saving Tips

How to Save on Car Repair and Maintenance

How to Save on Car Repair and Maintenance
Written by Irina Vasilescu

Years ago, you bought a new car and drove it straight out of the showroom. It had a gleaming body, an engine which hardly purrs while you’re driving, and an almost no-impact experience for the passengers at the back of the car. Over the years, however, wear and tear will take its toll on your car. You would have to spend for maintenance tasks and repairs. Even if you never get into road mishaps, the performance of the car will diminish over time.

The good news is that there are ways for you to save on car maintenance and repair tasks. As long as you exert enough effort into keeping the car in tip top shape, it should still give you plenty of years in service.

Read on to find out how much a car owner should pay for car repair and maintenance. We will also be dishing out tips on how you can save money on these car-related tasks.

How Much Should I Pay for Car Repair & Maintenance?

First, how much should a car owner spend on car maintenance and repair? Repair should only be done when something goes wrong with the car. Maintenance, on the other hand, is a must because it is what prolongs the life of a vehicle. So how much is too much when it comes to the costs associated with car repair and maintenance? Take a look at the following list:

  • Annually, you could spend as much as $400 on car maintenance and repairs. This may sound like a lot, but compared to the costs of buying a new car, it is actually more affordable.
  • Car experts say that for every five years that a person drives a car after paying it off, the savings equate to the market cost of a new car.
  • The average American household spends about 1.5% of the annual income on auto repairs. That’s around $410 per vehicle, although the costs do not yet include the 3.7% spent on gasoline and motor oil, as well as the 2.2% spent on auto insurance premiums.
  • Consumer reports indicate that the average lifespan of a new car is eight years or 150,000 miles. As long as you exert enough effort into prolonging the life of your car through preventive maintenance and repairs when needed, your initial investment will pay off in the end.

When it comes to car maintenance and repairs,  you may never really know when you’re paying too much. But what is important is to set aside funds for its repair and maintenance. If you can afford to, you can even open a separate account which is solely for car-related expenses. By investing in preventive maintenance tasks for your car, you can avoid larger, more expensive repairs in the future.

Top 10 Ways to Save on Car Repair and Maintenance

After learning about how you can gauge when you are spending too much on auto maintenance and repair, let us take a look at the actual ways that you can save on this aspect. To make sure that you are not spending any more than you have to on car maintenance and repair, here are the top ten tips to keep in mind:

1. Read the owner’s manual

Once you drive your brand new car out of the showroom, the first thing you need to do is read the owner’s manual. This will give you a detailed description of when you should perform maintenance tasks on the engine, wheels and body of the car to keep it in tiptop shape.

Every car owner’s manual has a Scheduled Maintenance Guide which gives you an idea about how you can save hundreds of dollars on unnecessary repairs and car maintenance tasks.

2. Understand the value of preventative car maintenance

What is involved in maintaining the maximum performance of a vehicle? The tasks involved here include getting an oil change, getting new tires, adding fluids, etc. By simply sticking to the recommended schedule on how often you should have your car’s oil changed per year, you are already saving a lot of money in the process.

Prevention is definitely better than cure and this principle holds true for cars. Instead of spending thousands of dollars for future repairs when you ignore the maintenance tasks required for your car, you will save lots of money simply by sticking to the original plan.

3. Establish a good relationship with an honest mechanic

Whether you have a sedan, an SUV, a family car or any other kind of vehicle, the number one thing that you should do if you want to save money on repairs and maintenance is this: establish a good relationship with an honest mechanic.

Is one difficult to find? The solution for this is to get referrals from friends or colleagues who also own cars. They should be able to refer you to an honest mechanic who will not rip you off unnecessary car maintenance or repair costs. It’s a good idea to look for an honest mechanic even before your car is in need of repairs – you will definitely require his services in the future.

4. Know which car maintenance and repair tasks you can do yourself

Did you know that by performing some car maintenance tasks yourself, you can save as much as $600 annually? Even if you’re no engine expert, there are easy car maintenance tasks that you can perform, and will save you a lot of money in the process. This includes:

Car Maintenance TaskApproximate Annual Savings
Changing your own oil$75
Replacing the brake pads$100
Flushing the car’s cooling system$100
Replacing the air filter$26
Replacing the PCV valve$60
Replacing the fuel filter$90
Air conditioning unit testing$50
Air conditioning unit system recharging$100

Again, having zero knowledge about engines is not an excuse for you to fail in performing these car maintenance tasks. Think of the hundreds of dollars that you will save annually. Simply go online to watch videos or download step-by-step instructions on how to change your own oil, replace the brake pads or flush the cooling system.

With a bit of effort on your part, you can do your share in maintaining the utmost performance of your car – but without having to pay for the services of a professional mechanic.

5. If your car needs major repairs, shop around for the best rates

If you got involved in an unfortunate road accident and the car needs major repairs, do shop around for the best rates. Even if your car insurance company will shoulder the expenses, it still pays to look for the best rates so there will be no need to pay any more than what’s necessary. Go online or ask friends or co-workers for referrals.

6. Learn as much as you can about cars

As a driver, you should continually exert effort into learning about engines and how cars work in general. If all you know is how to drive an automatic car, what will you do if you need to change tires yourself in the middle of the road? It takes practice to develop these skills, but they are completely learnable.  

Go online and look for short courses on how cars work; learn what the different parts of an engine are called and what they do; etc. Once you deal with a mechanic, you would not come off as a novice or greenhorn when it comes to engines. This way, they would not rip you off and charge you with only what’s fair for the specific issue that your car is experiencing.

7. Heed your car’s early warning signs

While driving or even while your car is on idle mode, never ignore the early warning signs. If you see something flashing on the dashboard about oil, pull over and turn off the engine. Such safety precautions should be taken so that the problem will not get worse. The same thing holds true once you see the ‘Check engine’ light go off.

8. Purchase discounted car parts online

If there are parts of the engine which require replacement, look for discounted car parts online. There are plenty of stores which specialize in selling perfectly working car parts at lower prices as compared to when they’re bought from actual stores.

9. Look for a shop which specializes in dings and dents

Even if you’re an ultra-cautious driver, there will be times when your car would have dings and dents on the body. These are eyesores, so it pays to look for a shop which specializes in making the body of your car look perfectly flawless.

10. Have the vehicle tuned up at least once a year

Finally, skip unnecessary oil changes and make sure to have it tuned up at least once a year. Again, preventive maintenance steps are needed if you would like to prolong the life of your car. By following these tips, you would not have to spend any more than you have to on car repair and maintenance costs.

About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our crafty designer. She joined the team three years ago and is also involved in the writing process.

57 Comments

  • Oh I own a car and I have to say that knowing your car inside out is probably the best thing do to if you’re a car owner. I’m not much of a mechanic and I can’t really do some hard car maintenance, not unless I want my hands wrecked, but if you know something about car’s you’ll save an awful lot from trips to your local mechanic, and they would charge you still even if they found nothing.

  • All of these are very true. My favorite ones are taking the preventative measures to not have car issues (including spending money to save money in the long run, like being up to date on your oil changes), and getting an honest mechanic you can trust!

  • Having an honest mechanic is so important! I would also suggest staying away from dealerships when getting repairs done, unless you are under warranty, or have to go there to get the part you need. Dealership service centers generally charge more than an independent mechanic shop for the same service, so why pay more than you have to?

    Also, for big repair jobs, you might want to get a second opinion. We had a car tested for transmission issues before a long trip we were taking, just to be safe, and the mechanic told us it was just a matter of time until the transmission went out completely and suggested we get it replaced soon. We took it to another mechanic in town known for good transmission work, and he could not find anything wrong with the car’s transmission. We have put another 50,000 miles on the car since then with no transmission problems!

  • Better than establishing a good relationship with an honest mechanic is to work with someone who is your own relative, like your uncle. I`m lucky that way! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing this advice! I recently bought a used car for cheap, but it definitely needs a little bit of work. It needs a few major repairs, but the rest is pretty minor stuff. I will be sure to focus on the major stuff first, and then make those smaller repairs as money comes in later.

  • “#8 Purchase discounted car parts online.” I think, we can do our own car repairs if we put out minds to it. My hubby has to build up his confidence and try harder in tinkering with the mechanics of our car and van. Also, we’ve just recently fired our mechanic who looked at our van for years! He relied so much on the computer data of our van. Instead of using his mechanical expertise with “greased well practiced hands”.

  • In my country car maintenance means most of the time when an auto part breaks, we change it. Because of financial reasons, many people go to periodic auto checks.

  • I’m glad that you pointed out some basic car maintenance tips that anyone can do. I honestly didn’t know about most of them, including testing and recharging the air conditioning unit and flushing the car’s cooling system. It’s easy for me to write those off, but, as you said, not knowing about engines isn’t an excuse for not performing maintenance. Thanks for the information.

  • Even if you are not knowledgeable about taking your car to the mechanic, there are several ways that you can save money on car repairs. If you educate yourself a little bit about the process and different ways to save money on car repairs, then you will feel better about taking your car to the mechanic and confident that you are receiving the best value on your repairs.

    • Brake pad replacement is a doddle on most cars but please don’t think the rears are the same as the fronts, on most modern cars with disc brakes on the rear, the piston in the calliper will not just push in like the fronts but it winds in like a large screw.

  • Choose the best car audio for your vehicle and enjoy the music of your choice. Just make sure you stay away from car audio from gray market along with those that come with small controls, faux equipments that make the handling all the more complicated. Always go for the originally manufactured equipments that come with a prior guarantee. So, the next time you plan to invest in a car audio system Health Fitness Articles, go for the best system that offers best quality at affordable price.

  • The advice to “establish a good relationship with an honest mechanic” was really smart and important. It also makes sense to have your vehicle tuned up at least once a year to look for any problems and keep things running smoothly. Do you have any advice on how to find reliable auto parts online like you mentioned?

  • This is very helpful. I do agree in the things you have pointed out. I am an owner of a 16 year old Honda Civic. Tune up every other year but yes i will consider to make it once a year. Thank you for sharing this information! Good Read

    • If your car has rare spare parts, and is not a common model, you will be safer going to a dealership. They might be more expensive but you are assured of getting a mechanic that has been trained by a particular car manufacturer. Some dealerships are so good that they have a mechanic from each of the major manufacturers. You will get a mechanic particular to your car type who will probably install factory parts instead of used, tried parts. A dealership is ideal if your car is still covered under warranty or the costs are paid by insurance.

  • Benefits for auto mechanics vary depending on the type of automotive repair business they work for. Dealerships provide automotive technicians with the greatest number of benefits, while franchise automotive repair shops provide fewer benefits in general. For automotive mechanics working in private garages, benefits are often limited.

  • I totally agree that every car owner can able to perform basic car repairs by own. According to my opinion I don’t prefer an auto mechanic for repairs like tire changing, oil changing, replacing spark plugs…etc. I have few of auto repair tools, so I always used to carry them whenever I travel. But it is not always possible to perform all the repair services by myself. In such situations I prefer a good technician for that.

    • Overall, autonomous vehicles could be a major technology to fight against climate change. The technology can even pay for itself: It is probably the only technology which lowers overall costs of mobility, maintaining the infrastructure etc. Policy-makers, take note!

  • You have some good tips for saving on car repairs. I have never been good at shopping around for the best rates, but I need to do that. Like you said, it’s always worth paying as little as possible.

  • Wonderful post. Really this site is very helpful for all. I got few important helps from here and highly recommended it. Surely I will know my relatives and relevant competitors concerning this blog and will wait for more. Thanks a lot.

  • I absolutely impress on this page.. You made us relaxing from our car failures. Thank you for sharing this brilliant information of saving money when car repair.

  • So many car repairs can be done on your own, so it’s important to check the owners manual so you can save a few dollars. Thanks for sharing this advice!

  • Very few vehicles complete their life span without visiting an auto repair shop and undergoing a major repair or overhaul of a component. Knowing that your car will need a repair or servicing is no issue, but the problem lies in finding the right auto shop that will give you quality service and not swindle you. It is easy to get that loyal mechanic who is like your car’s personal doctor. A high charging shop does not mean better quality and opting for one simply because of cost may end up in a slow death for your car. You can also get a good shop but not one that takes a whole week to service your car, costing you in inconveniences. It is important to find the balance between speed of service, quality and expense.

  • All you have mentioned the ways to save the car from repair and maintenance are true. These are very important to know for everyone who have vehicle or wants to buy new vehicle. This is very informative article and alert about that maintenance is how much important for the longest life of a vehicle. Good job:)

  • That is really an important thing you should get fix. seats may not just for comfort but safety too. get a good auto service to check that out.

  • A well-maintained car has a higher selling value which will help you acquire a better return on your investment if you decide to sell it.

  • A lot of great tips here. It will really help a lot on people who wanna save. Good job. Constant maintenance on your vehicle is also a must and goes a long way.

  • I like how you suggested shopping around when your car needs major repairs. My vehicle has been having problems with the transmission, and I think it needs to be repaired which is a really big job. I want to try and save as much as possible, so I’ll make sure to take the extra time to do some research and compare rates so I get the best deal possible.

  • Great article, I believe that car cleaning services will ensure that your car is maintained in top condition and your travel becomes comfortable. So car cleaning service require.

  • Every mechanic or complete auto care facility will have a set price. But this cost is not the same for every garage. Compare a number of facilities with total cost and reputation in mind so that you can pick a reputable center that offers reasonable and affordable pricing schedules.

  • Great post! Very informative, preventive car maintenance is certainly very important and key to saving a lot of money in the long run. Thanks for sharing!

  • If you really want to save money from parts, you should always have a regular maintenance check. In that way you could save your parts from wearing out fast.

  • Basically, you need to know the standard fee of whatever you want the mechanic to fix on your car. Because if you don’t know anything, you’ll be screwed by your so cold mechanic.

  • Cars need to be regularly checked for tons of reasons. But the primary one is safety. Having regular check on your cars let you find parts that needs to be replaced sooner before they give out.

  • A well-maintained car has a higher selling value which will help you acquire a better return on your investment if you decide to sell it.

  • Being ahead of your repairs is a nice practice. By doing maintenance on your car. You will have cheaper repairs.

  • Great post! Will surely follow this. Hope I would be able to cut down costs. Lookin forward to more helpful post!

  • True! But I’m always telling to first timers to ask the pros first how to do it right to prevent more damage.

  • Great article. If you regularly check the maintenance of your car if a problem/s occur the price for repair will not be that costly. Some car owners just tend to buy their cars and if they need repairs they just go the service center and I personally would say that repairs on service center’s are not that affordable to a few.

  • When in a service repair for you car. It is important that you also pay attention to the things being done to it.

  • Doing several maintenance tasks can increase your fuel economy. Your tires should be checked every month. If they are not properly inflated, or have the wrong tire pressure, you can be losing fuel economy.

  • This is actually very helpful. I had my car repaired one time to a automotive shop and what they did was just the basic stuff yet when it comes to breakdown of the costs it was so expensive. Anyways, great advice though. Thanks.

  • Great post! Shopping around is definitely smart because it’s unlikely the first place you call will have the best rates. Thanks for sharing!

  • Preventive maintenance is all about keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape, so that save on repair costs and expenses in the long run.

  • My car is in need of new brakes, but I don’t know if I can afford having a mechanic replace them. I had no idea that I could purchase parts online for a discount. That’s good to know that some places sell parts for a wholesale price. Hopefully I can find the right brakes for my car. Thanks for the insight!

  • This one has an awesome information for car maintenance and also saving hundreds or thousands of dollars. These tips are very true, thanks for sharing this post with us.

  • This one has an awesome information for car maintenance and also saving hundreds or thousands of dollars. These tips are very true, thanks for sharing this post with us.

  • The yearly tune-up is so underrated! Tons of casual drivers fall into the trap of “The car still runs, so nothing’s broken”, when they’re really just costing themselves hundreds or thousands more dollars in the long run. Not worth the 2/3 hrs a year you save.

  • My husband and I are wanting to make our cars look better as they have seen better days. It didn’t even cross my mind that we could find someone who specializes in dent repair services. Hopefully a paintless dent repair job could do the trick in making our cars look new again.

  • Irina, it was interesting to read that the average lifespan of a new car is eight years or 150,000 miles. It makes sense that getting regular service can help extend the life of that vehicle. My brother was just mentioning that his sports car was starting to sound a little funny. It might be time for him to take it in. I know he wants that car to last a very long time.

  • Having and maintaining a car is really not that cheap, so this tips could really help us on getting our cars having problems and may also save us from spending too much. It’s true that we have to build a good relationship with our mechanic so they’ll be honest with things like your car’s real problems. I personally have a good relationship with my mechanic to the fact that we call each other buddies. Thanks!

  • People should know how to maintain their vehicles, just doing simple repairs saves you money and also time if youre going to break down!

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