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 Task||Approximate 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.