|Posted by Robert Shank on January 2, 2012 at 10:25 AM|
Every car will break down sooner or later and is never exciting when you have to unexpectedly call your mechanic at the last minute to see if they can squeeze you in for an appointment, and the situation easily can be made worse by expensive repair bills. A large population of us are at the mercy of our mechanics when it comes time for a serious repair to are automobiles, however it doesn’t have to be this way, with just a little bit of education, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year, but don't worry, there is a silver lining! The two most important things that come to mind are; THINKING AHEAD & PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE. It’s true a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and by thinking ahead you can save yourself some cash when your car winds up in the shop next time. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this. Locate a reputable repair shop beforehand. The first step toward keeping as much of your hard-earned dollars as possible is going to a well-educated experienced mechanic. Find a honest auto repair shop with a great reputation for performing quality work and one you can trust, check out their website and look for training certification such as ASE (a good housekeeping seal of approval from the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) If you’re not sure where elese to start, ask for recommendations from family, friends and coworkers who has used the shop before, also, read online customer reviews, research the repair shop through the Better Business Bureau or call the Department of Justice and check for any complaints from previous customers, this will ensure you they’re in good standing and should give you a good solid in-site of their track history of dealing with the general public. Once you find that right repair shop stick with it! As a dedicated customer is can be a huge plus for you in terms of getting “little freebees” the owner may just reward you with a free oil change or go out of his way and perform a little extra repair or he may even give a discount off your bill for sending him referrals, Oh and don’t forget to make sure those referrals have indicated to the repair shop owner who sent them his way. Follow Manufacturer Recommended Maintenance Schedules Your automobiles service manual was printed for a reason, your owner’s manual should outline all of the recommended maintenance schedule(s), most of the time you can prevent expensive car repairs or problems before they begin by following these schedule(s), automobile manufacturers include these service schedules for items they know will certainly need attention within a set time frame, or number of miles, for example, you should get your oil changed, coolant flushed or transmission serviced according to the maintenance schedule – every xxxx miles for your automobile, or if you don’t drive very many miles, every 6-12 months or so. In addition, by reading your manual it should tell you when replace your timing belt, transmission fluid, and other commonly serviceable parts of your car, this will save you from any surprises and falling victim to an up sell from your repair shop. If an item isn’t covered in the maintenance manual with a certain mileage or time frame, use common sense, or refer to your mechanic. Most of the time a service centers will offer car inspections for free when you get your car serviced or for around $25-$50 if you decide you don't want to perform any repairs at that time. Take your car to an independent repair shop vs. the dealer.
If your vehicle is no longer covered by a factory warranty, there’s absolutely no need to take it to a dealer for service. Dealerships typically charge more and have huge overhead expenses and most of the time there service writers and technicians are commissions based and trained to up sell if not oversell a recommended service or repair. Many local shops are just as well equipped and qualified to handle whatever’s wrong with your vehicle as the dealer is, with the ability for independent shops to purchase nearly all of the manufacturers electronic repair data from aftermarket venders, now days it takes all the guess work out of the equation when they need technical data to reference. Also, the owner of an independent repair shop is more likely to provide a better personal family atmosphere/experience. Don’t be afraid to ask your independent repair shop if they can email or send you coupons in the mail, assuming they have any, this will in turn lower your expenses. Don't ignore strange sounds. For example; the notorious brake squeal- If your brakes emit a constant high-pitched whine don’t ignore it and turn up the radio, letting a brake squeal can turn into a full blown "replace everything" brake job and is very costly, this annoying sound may just be an indication you’re ready for a basic brake job and doesn’t necessarily mean you need new rotors or calipers, you can probably see your front brakes through the wheels on your car to visualize the thickness of the pads, pads thicker than a quarter-inch are probably fine. If your pads are thinner than a quarter-inch, replace them. If your car shimmies or you feel grinding through the pedal, then your brake rotors need to be turned or replaced , if you let the noise go to long it may cost you a pair of calipers. Online and offline research Check the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to see if a technical service bulletin (TSB) has been issued about your car and the component in question. Manufacturers often will repair known defects outside the warranty period (sometimes called a secret warranty) Keep good records. A logbook of every repair done to your car can help you decide if something’s seriously out of whack. Didn’t I just buy new brake pads? With a log and an envelope stuffed with receipts, you’ll know who did the work and when and whether or not there’s a warranty on the repair. And a service logbook helps at resale time, too. Buy or not to buy an extended warranty. Most manufacturers allow you to wait until just before the regular warranty expires to decide, by then you should know whether your car is troublesome enough to require the extended warranty. A well prepared aftermarket extended warrantee can save pay for itself if done right, I would highly recommend it right away if you’re buying a higher mileage vehicle especially a domestic or European vehicle, Asian made cars are typically more reliable especially Honda, Toyota and Nissan so it may not pay to purchase a warrantee, however it really boils down to how well the car was maintained . Save Gas Not keeping your tires properly inflated can lead to premature replacement and cost you, check them once a month; otherwise you’re wasting gasoline, you’re also risking a blowout and wearing them out more quickly. Also get rid of that dead weight in the trunk, tire chains, tool chest, or just unneeded stuff stored in your trunk is costing you. Tune-up your car, change your air filter and fuel filter. Change to synthetic motor oil, your engine performance is better, runs with less resistance and uses less gas.