how much should I budget for car repairs

8 Tips for Saving for Car Repairs

If you drive on a regular basis, you’ve likely encountered the following scenario: You’re on your way to work or running late for an appointment. All of a sudden, a light pops on your dashboard. Perhaps it’s your check engine light. Maybe it’s your brake light. Whatever it is, it means something is wrong with your vehicle and something needs to be fixed.

Getting something fixed means having car repairs done and oftentimes that means shelling out some serious money. Many times, serious car repairs cost more than a few dollars and you may be wondering to yourself, how much should I budget for car repairs? Read on to find out who you can save for car repairs and get your car back out on the road.

Go Easy On The Oil

If you have your car’s oil changed on a regular basis, you’ve probably heard that you need your oil changed every 3,000 miles. Now it is important to have your oil changed regularly, but times are different. Older cars may require a change after 3,000 miles, but newer cars have improved manufacturing standards and can go 5,000 miles or more between oil changes. If you’re wondering how much should I budget for car repairs, one thing you won’t have to budget much for is constant oil changes.

Shop Around

One answer to the question, how much should I budget for car repairs is to look around. One of the best things you can do if you’re looking for affordable repairs is to shop around. Generally speaking, you can use this tip in everyday life, but you can do the same thing with your car. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to put a little bit of work in. Most cities, especially bigger ones, have many an automotive motorsports shop or auto body shop. Some may even specialize in certain kinds of repairs or certain vehicles.

If you go to one place, get an estimate, and then take it to another place, the second shop may even price match their competition. Ultimately though, you want a shop that has experienced workers and will do quality work to fix your car. Simply plunking down money at the first shop you visit means you may be costing yourself hundreds of dollars.

When you do find the right shop, talk to them about their payment policies. Some may demand money upfront. Some may demand half before work is done and half after. Some may be willing to work with you on some sort of payment plan. It never hurts to ask, and, no matter how much or how little a repair is, it may make it easier to stomach.

Get Educated

As you wonder, how much should I budget for car repairs, you need to educate yourself. You drive your car every day to work, to social events, and to go grocery shopping. But do you really know how it works? Would you know where to locate certain things about your car if you had to point them out?

Before you visit any mechanic, you need to familiarize yourself with how your vehicle works and what might be the cause of an issue you’re having.

If you visit some places with no clue as to what’s going on, you may end up shelling out more money so the problem can be diagnosed. And then there’s the money you’ll end up spending on labor costs to have the problem fixed.

No one says you have to become an expert mechanic, but if you can familiarize yourself enough with your car, it helps. You can visit a shop, tell mechanics exactly what’s going on, and have only that which you need to be fixed.

Buy Parts Yourself

Make no mistake, needing car repairs can be a stressful thing, especially if you need a costly repair. But as you wonder, how much should I budget for car repairs, one option you have is to buy parts yourself. If you know someone who’s a mechanic, you can pick up the parts you need from a chain store and have them get to work. It saves you the hassle of having to shop around and you’re likely to feel better about the whole thing since a friend or family member is the one doing the work.

As you shop, just be sure that the parts you’re picking for the job are the parts you need and that you’re getting quality materials. You can certainly save money buying parts yourself, but you don’t want to skimp on quality.

If you consider yourself mechanically inclined, don’t be afraid to do some of the car repairs yourself. Don’t be fooled, there are some repairs that really require the expertise of professionals, but when it comes to things like fluid checks, changing tires, or checking and changing your oil, you can do all of those things in the comfort of your own driveway. Not only will this save you some serious money, but you can feel proud that you’ve got a direct hand in the maintenance of your car.

Buy Insurance

You may be wondering, how much should I budget for car repairs, but one of the best things you can do to save money is to make sure you have auto insurance.

Not only is it required in some form or fashion in whatever state you live in, but it can also save you loads of money should you need car repairs.

How can it save you money? Let’s say you’re driving and suddenly get a flat tire. If you need to have your vehicle towed to a tire shop, you can get tow service as an add-on to an insurance plan. If something happens while you’re driving and you find yourself stuck on the side of the road, you can also include auto roadside assistance in your insurance.

The bottom line is that insurance helps you to be prepared for anything life might throw your way while you’re driving. Not only are you prepared, but if repairs are needed, your insurance is likely to cover the majority of the cost, making it more affordable for you to pay for repairs. Like you’ve read above about shopping around with repair shops, you can do the same thing with insurance. You can look into national companies or local agents to ultimately find a car insurance quote that’s affordable and gives you the coverage you need.

Have Regular Maintenance Done

As previously mentioned, you don’t necessarily need to have your oil changed every 3,000 miles. But, make no mistake, having your car maintenanced regularly can save you on costly repairs. Having simple things like fluid checks and tire rotations done are important. That way your tires don’t wear out too fast and you don’t run into an issue of being low on oil or transmission fluid.

You almost want to think of your car like a human body: when you put good things in, you’ll get things out of it. So as you think to yourself, how much should I budget for car repairs, remember to keep at least $30-40 handy for your next oil change.

While you’re at it, take some time to read your car’s owner’s manual. This will give you a sense of all the things your car can do, but it should also list a scheduled maintenance guide. This will help you keep a timetable of when maintenance or repairs might be needed, so you can be prepared rather than being surprised.

Check Your Insurance

While you’re flipping through your owners’ manual, take time to review your insurance policy. It’s important to know what’s covered and what your deductible costs are. If you’re in a serious accident, an auto accident attorney can help you if you pursue legal action, but insurance can help you when it comes to car repairs. Insurance can also help you in situations like car-deer accidents. If a deer completely wrecks the front of your vehicle, you won’t have to wonder, how can I budget for car repairs. Instead, you can take your car to a shop, pay your deductible and get your car back once things are fixed. Your deductible might be a few hundred dollars, but it’s a lot better than shelling out thousands of dollars on your own.

Don’t Wait

Car repairs can be costly, but most times they are absolutely necessary. On that note, if you notice a serious problem, don’t wait to have it fixed.

Let’s say you’re driving and your check engine light pops on. Obviously, that’s an indication that there’s a problem. You should get in to see a mechanic as soon as you can. How about that weird noise your car makes when you accelerate past a certain speed or the squealing sound your brakes are making?

By waiting, or even flat out ignoring the problem, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. The last thing you want is for a problem to rear its head at the wrong time. By getting in to see a transmission mechanic or some other kind of specialist, you’ll keep yourself safe and save money in the process.

Ignoring a problem can leave you stranded on the side of the road. It can also leave you in a car accident, especially if you’re in a situation where your brake light has been and all of a sudden your brakes go. The best accident lawyers do quality work and can go to bat for you, but you can avoid accidents altogether by addressing problems right away and keeping yourself safe on the road.

Start Somewhere

If you’re really stressed and wondering, how much should I budget for car repairs, you should talk to a financial planner. Financial planners can answer all your questions about money and advise you on how you can smartly save money. Everyone wants to save money, but some folks just don’t know how or think they can’t. A planner can break it down in simple terms and help you start putting money in the bank.

In addition to talking to experts, you should do all that you can to put money aside. Even if it’s $5 or $10 per paycheck, it never hurts to have a rainy day fund. You never know what life is going to throw your way, and, if and when that thing is an unexpected car repair, you can be prepared with at least some money to pay for it. You may not think that $5 or $10 or whatever you’re putting into a rainy day fund is a lot, but it adds up over time.

While not a money-saving tip, one thing you also do is get a credit card for emergencies only. Chances are you have a credit card for everyday use, but an emergencies-only credit card ensures that you’ve always got a means to pay for needed repairs.

Summing It Up

If you’re wondering about an answer to the question, how much should I budget for car repairs, the best answer is there is no one right answer. Whether you need a basic oil change, a new alternator, a new fuel injector, or new tires, you won’t always know how much you’ll need.

But what you can do is get started saving for car repairs right now. Make a deliberate effort to put money away every few weeks or every month to have a rainy day fund at the ready. Get good auto insurance, which can offer discounts on auto assistance.

When you do need repairs, familiarize yourself with your vehicle and shop around, so you find the right shop to make quality repairs at an affordable cost.

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