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Category:  Automobiles

Saving Money on Automobile Repairs

By Nikki Willhite

Automobile expenses take a big chunk out of our income. This includes repairs and upkeep. A trip to the shop is almost always a painful financial experience.

Here are some tips to help keep these expenses down:


Proper maintenance will reduce repairs. Hopefully you have the manual to your automobile. If you don't', find a copy of it, and follow the instructions to service your car. Some of the most basic things you want to do frequently will include:

-Check the car's fluids; oil, transmission, radiator, power steering, etc.

-Measure the pressure in the tires and add air when necessary.

-Check the elasticity of the hoses and belts in the engine.

-Check the oil filter, brakes, and rotate the tires.

If you don't know how to do these things, find someone who does, and have them teach you. Or take a course at a local college. It is well worth the investment.

With more skill you can learn to monitor the carburetor, clutch, spark plugs, and much more. I would also encourage you to take proper care of the outside of your car. My husband religiously waxes our car at least twice a year. The difference is incredible. We keep our cars a LONG time. They look good. It is always shocking to see our car on the road when it hasn't been maintained. What a difference!


When you do have to take your car in to the shop, be prepared. Know the best place to go. Ask around. Find the most reputable shop in your area, and develop a good relationship with the owner.

Make sure the owner has been around long enough to build a credible reputation, and that his business is certified. He should communicate well with you, and not do any repairs until you authorize them.

Take advantage of having your car in the shop to do any other items that may be necessary, and spare yourself the extra expense of having to take it in later. Keep good records of which repairs and maintenance has been done on your car, and the dates. Keep all these records together in a well- organized notebook with a summary at the beginning. Take this with you when you go to the shop so the mechanic can see at a glance anything that may be overdue for your vehicle.

One of the reasons it is cost effective to do these things is that your car is going to be "pulled apart" anyway. If something needs to be done, it will be cheaper to do it now.

When not to repair

This is an area my husband deals in all the time as an insurance adjuster. Sometimes it is not worth the money to repair a car. This may be because of the age and condition of the car, or because of its condition due to an accident.

If you have been in an accident and have insurance, your adjuster will let you know if it can be repaired or not. The industry standard is that if it costs over 80% of the value of your car to repair it, which after an accident includes cosmetic work, they will not do it. It is considered a "total loss".

Even if you go ahead and have it repaired, the title will be stamped that the car has been totaled, and you will have a hard time selling it.

When it comes to mechanical repairs on your car, and whether or not to do them, there is some dispute. I do not agree with the research I've done. I do not agree with the percentages of the value of the car to the cost of the repair, and when not to do it. I believe they are too quick to discard a car.

If you do have an older car, and you have not been maintaining it, then you may not want to repair it. However, if you have been taking good care of your car, even if it is an expensive repair, I think it is worth the cost so that you do not have to make payments on a new car.

I have my own personal story on a decision I had to help my son make when his older truck blew its engine. The story is at:

 We can't live without our transportation! Take care of your vehicles.
Make them last. The savings will be substantial.


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