Ways to save money on car maintenance
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Putting off a car repair or routine maintenance can lead to big problems down the road. Say you notice a little anti-freeze on your driveway. Best case scenario: you may need a new hose.
“But if you let it go, you may need a whole new engine block,” said Shawn Sinclair, an Automotive Engineer from Consumer Reports.
Granted, things are going to break, but it doesn't have to break the bank. Experts say replacing parts before they go can be a lot cheaper than repairing the damage after something fails. All of the magic numbers can be found inside your owner's manual. It's your car's bible, and you should treat it like gospel.
“If it says to have your timing belt done at sixty thousand miles, then you really seriously need to have your timing belt done at sixty thousand miles,” said Shawn Sinclair. “There is a reason why they put that in there. They have done the research and they know that at sixty thousand miles, this engine needs a timing belt.”
When it comes to who does the repairs, the dealership or an independent mechanic, Robert Sinclair of Triple A says if your car is under warranty, definitely go back to the dealership. However, once your warranty is expired, the price may drive you elsewhere.
“Dealerships are generally more expensive, sometimes a lot more expensive,” said Robert Sinclair Jr., Manager of Media Relations for AAA New York.
His advice is to find an independent technician you can trust by using Triple A's Approved Auto Repair Network or simply asking around.
For real savings, though, you might want to roll up your sleeves. There are many simple repairs, like replacing a headlight bulb or air filter, that even a novice can tackle, provided you have a few tools, a little mechanical aptitude and access to the internet.
“There are step by step videos on there or photo montages on how to do these simple items, and that can go a long way to saving you money,” said Robert Sinclair Jr.
Finally, if fear of costly car repairs has you considering buying an extended warranty, Shawn Sinclair says steer clear. Her advice: take the money you would have spent on the warranty.
“Put it into a savings account just for your car,” said Shawn Sinclair. “Then you know if something does go wrong, then you have that money to repair that car, but if it doesn't, you've got some money set aside for maybe a nice vacation.”