In addition to being National Car Care Month, April is also Financial Literacy Month! We know how important it is to our customers to save money on their automotive repairs - so we have compiled some of the best ways to make sure that you are spending your money wisely on your vehicles.
Find a Trustworthy Shop to Stick With
This is something that can be major for your wallet. You will need to do your research and find a shop that you are willing to invest in, but once you find one (with a good repair warranty), stick with them! Yes, you could certainly shop around and try and find the cheapest price in town for the repair that you need, but this isn't always the best long term decision. Firstly, you will more than likely have to pay diagnosis fees if you choose to have the work done elsewhere, which will lessen the amount of savings you may be getting from another shop. Secondly, you will need to keep great records of repairs you've had completed so that you know which shop to return to for warranty work if a part fails. On the flip side, if you consistently go to one shop, you build a relationship with that shop. There is no headache involved when you know that they warranty their repairs, and everything has only been completed by them. If something comes up, they can work with you on financing your bill. Shops often go out of their way to help loyal customers who they know have chosen to trust them with their vehicles - so be a loyal customer to whichever shop you choose!
After you've found a shop you trust, these are 5 tips to consider:
5. Budget for Your Auto Repairs
Did you know, that most vehicles, even well maintained ones, have at least $200 worth of repairs and maintenance that could be done on them at any given time? That means that even when you just spent $400 on getting your brakes replaced, your car could probably still use $200 or more in things like an A/C blower motor, a belt that is due to be changed at 60,000 miles, new wipers, etc. We know that almost no one has the money available to fix every single thing at the same time, and most people live with minor inconveniences (1 vent not blowing hot air, a seat belt getting stuck, burned out dome lights, etc.) until all of the major problems are taken care of. Budgeting is something that you should consider for your vehicle! Putting aside $20, $50, or $100 each month in your budget, specifically for auto repair bills is a good start to being ready to fix the things that need it most, and maybe some of the other things that just make your car ride more comfortable.
4. Read Your Owner's Manual
Okay, you don't have to read all of it (unless you want to) but one good thing to look at is the section on routine maintenance. This is where it will list the manufacturer's recommended interval for oil changes for your vehicle. This could be a huge money saver! Most shops (us included) suggest oil changes every 3000 miles for standard motor oil, and 5000 miles for synthetic motor oil. While this is a solid recommendation, and a safe way to maintain your vehicle with regular checkups, you might be surprised to find out whether your vehicle suggests a longer interval. Some owner's manuals are now recommending 7,500 or 10,000 miles in between changes - which could save you as much as 50% on oil changes! Check your manual, and also talk with your mechanic, and see if you can save!
3. Plan Ahead for Maintenance
If you open your owner's manual, to that same section that covers routine maintenance for your vehicle, you will find out how often certain items need to be checked and replaced. For example, the manual says that a 2013 Ford Escape will need an engine air filter every 30,000 miles, an engine coolant flush at 100,000 miles (then every 50k after), spark plugs every 100,000 miles, and a new timing belt every 150,000 miles. A 2001 Toyota Sienna manual recommends an engine air filter and a coolant flush every 30,000 miles, spark plugs every 60,000 miles, and a timing belt every 90,000 miles. Knowing these things in advance, you can save up money for the more expensive jobs, and you can also guarantee that your vehicle will keep running for a long time. Remember that regular upkeep (up to a point) is cheaper than getting a new car, so it pays to invest in the routine maintenance for your vehicle.
2. Don't Pay Labor Twice
Sometimes when a vehicle comes in for a repair, we find out that there is another needed repair and we call the customer asking for the go-ahead to perform that service in addition to the original service scheduled. I know people are wary of the dreaded "up-sell"and some people don't have money budgeted for additional repairs, so customers sometimes decline to have the work done at that time. While we understand this completely, it might be worth considering if it will save you money in the future if you do the service now. If we are working on your brakes and call to say a wheel bearing is bad, you will only be charged once for the labor since we've already taken off the wheel and brakes. If you choose to postpone this service, you will have to pay the price of labor a second time. For example, this is why we always recommend changing the water pump at the same time as you change the timing belt - who wants to pay 4 hours labor twice when you could just do it once?
1. Get Oil Changes
You knew I was going to say it, but getting regular oil changes is the number one most important thing you can do to save money on repairs for your vehicle! Spend money to save money? Yes, oil changes may cost you $200-$400+ per year, depending on what type of oil and how much you drive, but investing that money in your vehicle will keep the engine components running smoothly. Also, when we do your oil change, we always perform a courtesy check of your vehicle. This courtesy check is a great way to find out (for free!) what repairs are needed on your vehicle. You can see if your brake pads are getting low, shocks are leaking, tires are wearing, filters are dirty, etc. We can even tell you which things are primary, secondary, and tertiary in importance so you can plan accordingly. If you are in the shop regularly for oil changes, we are much more likely to catch something wearing out BEFORE it breaks, saving you time and money.
Have any other money saving tips? Let us know!