If you own and drive a vehicle, it’s only a matter of time before you are going to end up at the mechanic. Regular wear and tear will eventually result in repairs, as will experiencing an accident. Whether your mechanic has discovered a problem during a regular oil change, your check engine light has come on, or you’re working with an attorney after a serious car accident, you may get the bill and discover that the cost of the repair is way out of your budget.
The last thing you want to do is avoid paying the bill, but you don’t want to overpay either. Instead, consider all of your options before you fork over any cash.
Check if Your Car is Under Warranty
If you’re driving an old beater, your car probably isn’t going to be under warranty. If instead you recently purchased your vehicle within the last couple of years from a reputable dealer, your car may be under a warranty. It doesn’t hurt to do a little research. It could mean the difference between paying for a repair and getting it done for free!
If you purchased your car from a dealership, but you’re still paying it off, you may want to check with them anyway. You may have purchased an extended protection plan that will help you cover vehicle repair costs. Of course, if you paid to extend your warranty, make sure you look into your coverage before you write that check.
Negotiate With Your Mechanic
When you go shopping, you have to pay for whatever is on the tag. That’s not always the case when you go to the mechanic. You have the opportunity to negotiate if you think the amount is too much.
Start by knowing your stuff. Be aware of obscure terms mechanics like to use to try and throw you off, and be aware of generally how much common repairs cost. Don’t be afraid to complain if a repair was made without your consent and now they want payment.
Go Somewhere Else
It’s also a good idea to go to another mechanic before you have any repairs done. If you get two or three estimates, you can find a mechanic who is going to charge you a reasonable fee without ripping you off.
If you have already had the repair done, it can still be helpful to consult one or two other mechanics in the area. If they provide you with a lower quote for the repair, you can negotiate more effectively with the mechanic who fixed your car. Then, in the future, you have a new mechanic you can go to who won’t rip you off.
Turn to a Handy Friend or Do It Yourself
Some car repairs require a mechanic who really knows what they are doing. For example, you don’t want to replace your transmission or attempt to tease apart your car’s electrical system without help from a professional, but there are plenty of other repairs that can be done more easily than you think.
If you have been quoted too much money for a repair, ask a friend who is handy to do the repair for you. They may not charge you at all, and even if they do, they aren’t going to charge you as much as your regular mechanic would.
There are some surprising repairs you can learn to do yourself too! They include:
- Replace a drive belt
- Replace the battery and alternator
- Replace brake pads
- Fix exterior coolant leaks
Whether you’re able to negotiate a lower amount or not, you may still discover that you can’t pay for the repair out of pocket. Credit cards can come in handy.
Although charging gets a bad rap, it can actually help protect you from bad repairs, as credit cards offer more protection than banks do. If you have a card with a low rate and you pay it off within a few months, it can make an expensive repair doable.
You may also be able to talk to your mechanic about opening a credit card with their shop. Many places offer credit that enables you to pay overtime, and some may not charge interest if you pay off the full amount within a certain time frame.
Owning a car means being ready to have it repaired at any time. That doesn’t mean it has to break the bank! With these tips, you can make expensive car repairs more affordable.