The new year brings with it an opportunity for change. While some resolutions may focus on trying new hobbies or exploring the world, one is sure to keep extra cash in your pocket: saving on car repairs. Here are some tips to help you save on auto repairs in 2022.
1. Schedule Preventative Maintenance
A sure-fire way to save on auto repairs is by avoiding them. This can be helpful even if you have car insurance or extended warranty plans. Even the best-extended car warranty and insurance providers are restricted by a deductible, which makes it difficult to cash in on your car’s warranty plan.
Preventing car repairs means you won’t need as much help from the warranty or insurance. You’ll also avoid premium increases if you don’t claim as often. In addition to saving you time and money, preventive maintenance will keep your car running smoothly for years to come.
But beyond that, sticking to a strict preventative maintenance schedule can also help save in other ways:
- Fuel economy – Regular tune-ups keep the car’s fuel system in good condition which maximizes the engine’s efficiency and keeps gas mileage in check.
- Parts longevity – Preventive maintenance can keep parts in top shape. If your car’s tires are properly inflated, for example, it will use less gas and have better traction. The tires will also last longer.
When planning your regular maintenance schedule, ask your auto dealership for annual discounts or savings on parts and labor. Another option is to arrange an appointment with a repair shop that offers free inspections.
What Regular Car Maintenance Includes
Regular car maintenance is different for every make and model, but it will likely include a thorough inspection of the major parts and systems of your car:
- Looking at fluids, such as oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluid
- Checking tire pressure for inflation
- Cleaning the interior cabin, engine compartment, and exterior
- Replacing wipers and filters as needed
- Looking over batteries, belt tensioner, and drive belts for wear and tear.
- Examining hoses for cracks and leaks.
2. Know When and How to DIY Repairs
Sometimes it is cheaper and easier to do minor car repairs yourself. A few common repairs you can DIY include:
- Windshield wipers – Replacing a wiper blade is a quick and easy way to save on auto repairs. Whenever your wiper blades are frayed, bent, or broken, simply buy a new set and swap them out.
- Tire pressure – Tire pressure should be checked weekly or before long trips. Keeping tires properly inflated saves fuel and extends the tires’ lifespan.
- Changing fuses – Headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and interior lights are all connected to car fuses. If you ever have a blown light bulb or notice that your headlights aren’t as bright as they should be, pop the hood and check to see which fuse needs replacing.
- Replacing headlight bulbs – Headlight bulbs grow dimmer with age, which can make it difficult to see at night. Replacing your headlight bulbs every year or two will ensure better visibility.
- Changing a tire – Changing a tire is a much easier task than it’s made out to be. It can even be done with the help of your family and friends, or alone. It will likely come in handy at least once in your life, so it’s a good idea to have the knowledge.
- Air Filter – Your car’s air filter keeps the engine running smoothly by regulating airflow. The cleaner your air filter, the better gas mileage you get and the less wear and tear on your car. Air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. Simply remove the screws and the old filter and place the new one in.
3. Ask for Discounts or Specials
While some car repairs are okay to do yourself, others will need to be taken care of by a certified mechanic. When you need to take your car in for repair, shop around. Ask if there are any discounts or specials that might help lower the price. Also, check to see if your local service center has any coupons.
Nowadays, rewards programs are common among car repair shops. For instance, many service centers offer discounts for AAA members or AARP members. Others may offer loyalty programs or rewards to pre-existing customers. So, be sure to ask about those when researching quotes. Shop around for the best discounts, coupons, and rewards programs in your area.
4. Consider Auto Repair Insurance
Auto repair insurance is a popular option for many Americans. The overarching idea of auto repair insurance is that it allows you to pay a set fee for a year, a covers the cost of small repairs, such as fixing a broken taillight or replacing a faulty headlight. Having auto repair insurance means you no longer must worry about the costs of small repairs. While there will be a monthly or annual premium, you will not have to pay the full price of the repair.
However, there are a few downsides to auto repair insurance:
- Some repairs, such as comprehensive and/or collision, do not count towards the total limit of repairs under your insurance.
- If you do not use all your insurance repairs during a year, you might lose that money if the benefits don’t carry over.
- Auto repair insurance is only beneficial if you have a relatively new vehicle. If your car is older, the repairs may not be covered. It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company before you purchase auto repair insurance.
5. Increase Your Deductible
While this strategy might increase the money you pay out of pocket if you need a repair, it can be a smart financial decision. By saving on your monthly premium, you can set aside a little extra money for future repairs.
In other words, increasing your deductible means you will have to pay more upfront if a repair is needed. But you can set aside funds to cover the deductible in case you need it. For instance, if your car insurance deductible is $500, try to set aside $500 in an emergency fund in case you need to claim.
6. Opt for Aftermarket Parts
Finally, opt for aftermarket parts instead of original equipment manufacturer (or OEM) parts. Aftermarket parts are often much cheaper than OEM parts. Opting for aftermarket parts can save you a lot of money and help you to pay less overall. OEM parts are often the most expensive option because they are made by your car manufacturer and sometimes come with a warranty.
If you’re considering aftermarket parts, read your manufacturer’s warranty first to see if you’re allowed to do so. Some manufacturers might not even recognize aftermarket parts, in which case you must know what you’re getting into.
Takeaway: Save Money on Basic Car Repairs
These strategies can help you save money on car repairs this year. In some cases, you might find that it’s much better to spend a little more upfront to save money later. Put that money in an emergency fund for future use.
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