Day 7: Lower the Cost of Car Repairs

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This post is part of the 31 Days to Radically Reduce Your Expenses series. Visit this page for even more ways to slash costs and eliminate unnecessary spending! 

Don't let your car turn into a money-suck -- follow these 6 tips to keep repairs as low as possible!

Ahhh… Most of us can’t live without them, but if you live with them, you know what a pain they can be to manage, maintain, fill-up, and repair. They are one of the worst investments ever!

But since we probably won’t be able to eliminate vehicles entirely, the next best thing is to figure out how to maintain them as low of an expense as possible. I know my own budget tries to work in a little bit extra for repairs, but once one thing goes, another one soon follows, and before you know it your extra savings is wiped clean because of a failed inspection.

So, I peppered Joseph with questions about how we can save more on car maintenance and repairs in preparation for this post. He was full of great advice, especially since the ins-and-outs of vehicles is not my forte! Here are the 6 ideas we came up with for you to try.

How to Lower the Cost of Car Repairs:

1. Find a Reputable Repair Shop – Finding a good car repairman is worth it’s weight in gold! Thankfully, we’ve been super lucky to find one we trust completely in our area – it’s a little bit of a drive, but definitely worth the service and the price. Ask around to see who friends and family use and if they would recommend them wholeheartedly. You want someone who cares about your car as much as you do!

2. Keep Up on Scheduled Maintenance – Regularly scheduled tune-ups will make your car last much longer. You don’t have to go crazy with these, as sometimes I think shops just like to get you in the door and up-sell you on excessive maintenance packages {see point #1}, but…..check your car manual for each manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and at what miles they should be done just to be safe. {This is usually during a regularly scheduled oil change.} You should also wash your car pretty often to prevent salt buildup from wintery roads or coastal waterways.

3. Don’t Under or Over-Change Your Oil {and maybe do it yourself!} – Older cars used to need an oil change every 3,000 miles, but since more of the newer cars are built to last 7,500-10,000 before needing one, you actually might be changing it too often. Double check your instruction manual, and when it does come time to switch out the oil, try doing it yourself and pocket the extra change. Just make sure this won’t void any warranties if the car is newer and more recently bought! I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the manufacturers guidelines on oil changes as it will help you delay or even avoid costly repairs as your car ages.

4. Use Coupons – I’m constantly getting coupons in the mail from not only our car manufacturer, but also several local repair shops. These coupons offer major discounts on oil changes, tire rotations, brake checks and more! If you’re not loyal to any one shop, take advantage of this and experiment with a few difference places before deciding on the one you like most. And don’t forget to check Groupon – you might find you don’t have to change the oil after all because of a great deal!

5. Shop Around for Parts – Regardless of who your mechanic is, do some research before settling on a price. We were able to buy tires much cheaper online and just pay our mechanic for labor to put them on. There is also an app called Repair Pal that I haven’t looked at too extensively yet, but it does give the average price of a repair so you know for sure you’re not being duped.

6. Keep a Maintenance and Repair Log – Call me nerdy, but I love crunching numbers to see how much we’ve spent on our car over the years. It also helps me know which of our cars were duds, and which brands we will definitely be purchasing again. Up until this Summer, we had only spent $600 in maintenance and repairs for our VW in the first 3 years, which I think is pretty good for a car!

Today’s Challenge:

Reference your car manual or do some internet research to see how often you should change your oil. Keep a little post-it note in your manual with the dates of your last change, and when to change it next. Then bookmark a YouTube tutorial {like this one!} and give your hubby a nudge when it’s time to change out the oil again. Or just browse Groupon to get it done for super cheap!

{Go to Day 8: Reduce Car Insurance Rates}

If monthly payments are taking control of your budget, you don't want to miss this 31 Days Series to Radically Reduce Your Expenses.

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