The majority of Americans rely on some kind of transportation to get around; those that live in suburbia or the countryside can’t get to work, school, or even to the grocery store on foot very easily. But public transportation also isn’t as accessible as many people need it to be, which is why a personal vehicle becomes necessary. Buying a car is a big commitment, with many car owners needing to buy from car dealerships and being forced to subsequently finance their cars. However, the sticker price on a car is one thing. How much individuals end up paying overall for the vehicle in the long term is another issue entirely.
There are basic necessary costs to think about, like registering a car, buying parking passes in some cases, and paying taxes on the vehicle. Additionally, even cheap car insurance usually comes with regular monthly expenses. In many cases, cheap car insurance isn’t always going to get a driver what they really need in the case of a crisis, either. But then there are the repairs and maintenance costs to consider. This is where the price of a car can really rise. No car is meant to work forever, and repair and maintenance costs can climb quite quickly when a driver isn’t taking the time to care for their vehicle properly.
But there are ways that you can save money on a vehicle repair or two, whether you’re visiting cheap car repair places or even learning a thing about how to care for your car on your own. Nobody has to be an expert on vehicles, however, in order to save money on keeping them running properly. It is a good idea to become an expert on spending wisely and saving money. So, how should a responsible driver go about applying those principles to their car repairs?
Rely on Word of Mouth — To An Extent
To an extent, it is a good idea to rely on word of mouth when exploring cheap car repair places. There is a negative perception that some have surrounding affordable auto repair shops; many believe that if services of any kind are offered relatively cheaply, that must mean that there is something amiss. But this is not always the case. A lot of mechanics are able to offer services affordably because they have experienced, and are able to keep costs down. Additionally, it’s necessary for some areas for mechanics to be more competitive regarding pricing.
Nonetheless, drivers should always know what they are getting themselves into regarding cheap car repair places. One of the best ways to ensure that they do is by relying to a degree on word of mouth. While there is always the chance that strangers could be recommending a specific shop because they have ties to it, most people recommend mechanics based on their own genuine experiences. If a mechanic has done great work, it’s quite common for people to recommend them later, whether it’s for auto transmission repair or body shop services.
The internet has made it easier than ever for people to use word of mouth to find cheap car repair places. But if Google reviews and Yelp are not specific enough, individuals can also turn to local message boards and groups online. Facebook has made it easy for communities to form and for locals to recommend services to each other. If a driver perhaps needs AC repairs done and is not sure about whether or not a mechanic’s shop is reputable, they can venture onto a local Facebook group for recommendations. If that same driver can get recommendations from a friend or acquaintance they trust, even better; but an online group can narrow selections down rather quickly.
Investigate Credibility Sites
If the local Facebook group isn’t doing much in terms of recommending cheap car repair places, there are websites that are specifically designed to help consumers investigate the credibility of businesses. Some review sites are less formal or focused on investigation, like Angie’s List. Others are more focused on the reliability of businesses, as well as their trustworthiness. Perhaps one of the best places to go to investigate the trustworthiness of a business is the Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau can be searched online for a wide variety of businesses; many business owners make it a priority to become accredited with the Better Business Bureau, as this can speak to their dependability. The Better Business Bureau will register good reviews, but they also register complaints. A complaint or two shouldn’t necessarily make a driver discount cheap car repair places in their area entirely. But many bad reviews can be a major red flag and may be indicative of the fact that a driver shouldn’t trust a business.
Speaking of trust, Trustpilot is a website that car owners can flock to in order to investigate cheap car repair places further. Dating back to 2007, Trustpilot has been focused on transparency and ensuring that consumers have the most accurate idea of a business’s standing and reputation as possible. It’s important for drivers to take advantage of sites like Trustpilot, which collect reviews from people that have experienced a business’s offerings, before taking the plunge. Even cheap car repair places cost money, and the last thing any driver wants is to pay for bad repairs, only to be forced to pay for additional repairs later on. A bad car repair shop can actually force you to pay far more in the long term than you would if you’d found a good auto repair shop to begin with.
Skip Going to the Car Dealership
You should skip going to a car dealership… under certain circumstances. If a driver bought their car from a dealership, they may assume that they can take that car to the dealership for any repairs. After all, many dealerships advertise their repair services regularly. Many car dealerships can offer some of the same repairs offered by cheap car repair places. Repairs to nitrous systems, paint issues, or tire problems can often be handled by good car dealerships. However, there are a lot of reasons why drivers should avoid taking their cars to dealerships for repairs, even if they can.
For one thing, it’s very possible that the repairs you are interested in won’t be covered by your warranty. Warranties are offered by many car dealerships, but often with copious caveats. Some are limited to small fixes, like jump start services; therefore, you would be wasting your time if you took your car to some dealerships expecting more. Warranties also expire eventually, even when they do cover large repairs. Your car may not need bigger repairs until a year after you purchase it… and your dealership may be well aware of this, and sell the car with a year’s warranty.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t still pay your car dealership for repairs. But would you really want to? Dealerships tend to charge more for car parts, hourly rates, and more. At the same time, you probably won’t have as complete a service experience when working with a car dealership as you would when working with a mechanic. Dealerships often don’t work with regular mechanics, and instead, work with people that were hired specifically to handle issues on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, you won’t be able to talk to the same mechanic every time, and you may not even able to talk to your mechanic at all and instead will be talking with a customer service representative regarding your car’s repairs. For a lot of people, this just isn’t reassuring, on top of the expense that comes with it.
Dealerships also tend to specialize in certain types of cars. If you were one of the few that bought an off-brand car from a dealership that typically specializes in other types of cars, you may not be able to get the service that you need. If a dealership specializes in repairable salvage cargo vans for sale, but you bought an SUV that the dealership happened to be selling, it may not be the best idea to bring that SUV to the dealership for repairs when the time comes. Most cheap car repair places do not specialize in specific types of cars; they are able to offer repairs for any kind of vehicle.
Learn How to Handle Your Own Repairs
At times, it can be worth it for a car owner to learn how to handle some of their own repairs, at least to an extent. This is not for the faint of heart, and it isn’t necessarily a good idea for you to begin learning from the bottom to manage your vehicle’s repairs. Additionally, working on your car on your own is not necessarily going to suffice when your car needs to pass inspection. Therefore, you need to take this approach very carefully. While you can often repair your car rather inexpensively on your own in certain circumstances, this isn’t necessarily going to work in every case.
If you’re familiar with working on cars, focus on smaller repairs. Most people can fairly easily change the oil on their own cars, for example. This is especially important, as oil changes are vital and should be done on a regular basis. You can save a lot of money over time by changing your own vehicle’s oil rather than taking it to an auto repair shop. Windshield wipers can also be replaced fairly simply, although you’ll want to be very sure that you’re installing them correctly. Headlight bulbs and spark plugs can be replaced at home as well.
The important thing to remember is that while there are tutorials that you can follow online, you’ll want to make sure that you’re following along with a reputable source. Not every one that posts tutorials online really knows what they’re doing. Just like you would when finding cheap car repair places, you’ll want to go through reviews before trusting someone that teaches people to repair their cars online.
Don’t Dismiss Used Car Parts
To some, buying used car parts might seem to be a bit intimidating and even distasteful. It’s understandable if you feel like you can’t trust used car parts at first, especially as they’re so much less expensive than brand new parts; but the reality is that many of these used parts are discounted simply because they’ve been used before, and not because they’re in poor condition. Many used car parts are quite lightly used and are being sold because the car in question was damaged in another way.
A lot of these parts are sourced from services that offer cash for junk cars. These cars are often in accidents which leave them impossible to drive, but certain parts within them remain in great condition. For example, tires are often sold used because they are left undamaged in these accidents, and in excellent shape. If you plan on repairing your car on your own, you can source your parts from used part vendors online or locally. On the other hand, this is an option that many cheap car repair places offer to their customers. If you are offered the chance to decide between used parts or new parts, pick the used parts, especially if they’ve been vetted by an auto repair shop that you trust. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with asking a mechanic about whether or not they can source parts used.
Ultimately, it’s impossible to avoid some costs that come with repairing cars. But if car owners are careful, they can save money by working with less expensive, trustworthy auto repair shops and even working on their cars themselves for small repairs. It’s a matter of assessing who you’ll be working with, what you can do on your own, and ultimately what makes the most financial sense. However, it can be done!