Everything is roses and sunshine driving that new car off the lot. For many, that love affair with their car continues right up until the first big thing breaks, and they get the repair bill. A bill of several hundred or even thousands of dollars can be a big shock and might even deplete the bank account unexpectedly.
Car parts can fail for many reasons. With a little planning, car owners can avoid some of the bigger punches to the wallet at the repair shop. Here are five ways to deal with costly auto repairs without breaking the bank.
A Good Ol’ Fashioned Rainy Day Fund
Saving money is hard. The key to building successful savings is setting a goal and leaving the money alone for its intended purpose. When it comes to auto repairs, car owners should set aside a rainy day fund specifically for the car and separate it from other emergency savings.
There is no set amount that everyone should save. A good rule of thumb is to set aside $50 a month. If the car make and model is particularly expensive to repair, owners should consider setting aside a little more.
Extended Warranties and Breakdowns
Not everyone is great at sticking with a savings plan. One option is to purchase an extended warranty. This is a warranty that covers the cost of most repairs after a deductible. In most cases, it takes over once the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
Another route to consider is a mechanical breakdown insurance policy, like the one that Geico offers. It will pay for repairs on mechanical parts of the car that the policy covers. Owners need to remember that these policies do not cover basic maintenance or instances of wear and tear on the car.
A Little Elbow Grease
Some people opt to save on repairs by doing them themselves. While some car owners only do home repairs on minor problems, others are only too happy to roll up their sleeves and dig into the big repairs. There are many videos online that are easy to access and can walk owners through repairing some parts. Many repair books are also available online or even at the local library. It might be possible to enroll in a basic car repair course through the city, learning annex, or community college.
Another way to save on car repairs is to purchase the needed replacement parts and bring the parts to a mechanic. Often owners can save a lot of money finding the parts themselves and then only paying for the mechanic’s labor. The danger in purchasing parts is that if the owner does not do enough research, he or she could lose money purchasing a non-refundable part that does not fit the car.
Finding a good mechanic might be more difficult than finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Once a car owner finds a trustworthy mechanic, it’s important to build a good relationship. Many mechanics and repair shops are happy to have a car owner as a repeat customer and may offer discounts for loyalty or referring friends and family to the business.
The other great thing about building a relationship with a mechanic is that the mechanic learns the owner’s car. This helps the mechanic monitor repairs and maintenance and leads to fewer and less expensive repairs over time.
Master of Maintenance
One of the best ways to deal with costly auto repairs is to prevent them from happening in the first place. When cars get routine maintenance, they perform better, and parts wear out more evenly. Generally, parts will last longer, and the owner will have to replace them less often. Performing regular maintenance on the car is protecting the owner’s investment. It will extend the life of the car.
Having to fix parts on the car is a fact of car ownership, but there are ways to avoid outsized expenses if the owner is careful. Setting money aside in savings, extending the warranty, and finding the right mechanic can all keep the car going strong while protecting the bank account. Successfully dealing with costly repairs will add to the enjoyment of car ownership for many years to come.