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How to Minimize Your Car Repair Costs

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Car ownership can be expensive, especially when car repairs are needed. Believe it or not, 1 in 3 U.S. drivers are unable to pay for an unexpected car repair bill, according to AAA.

Fortunately, maintaining your car can help you reduce your risk of unexpected car repairs and keep your car in its optimal condition. Keep reading to learn how you can maintain your car and minimize car repair costs in the event they do arise.

Maintaining your car to help avoid breakdowns

The ideal way to avoid car breakdowns is to maintain your car. “Follow the automaker’s recommended maintenance schedule and avoid over-maintaining your car or performing services not recommended by the vehicle manufacturer,” says Michael Calkins, manager of technical services at AAA National in Heathrow, Fla.

Here’s a brief overview of common car maintenance services and why they’re important.

Maintenance service Cost
Oil change $20 – $55 for conventional oil, $45 – $70 for synthetic oil
Tire rotation $20 – $50
Battery replacement $75 – $125
Wheel alignment $50 – $100
Wiper blade replacement $15 – $30 per blade
Multipoint inspection $100 – $150


  • Oil change: The purpose of an oil change is to prevent dirty sludge from piling up in your engine. By changing your oil on a regular basis, you can keep your engine running smoothly, improve your gas mileage and avoid the need for an engine replacement. Most vehicles require an oil change every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
  • Tire rotation: A tire rotation involves switching the position of the tires so that they wear more evenly. Routine tire rotations can extend the life of your tires, maximize your gas mileage and ensure that your car turns and stops in a safe manner. It’s a good idea to get your tires rotated at the same time you get your oil changed.
  • Battery replacement: In addition to starting your engine, your battery is responsible for powering all of the electrical components in your car. If you’ve noticed a slow starting engine, dim lights, an activated check engine light or a foul smell, the battery in your car may be due for a replacement. To avoid battery problems, have your battery checked every time you go for an oil change.
  • Wheel alignment: A wheel alignment is essential for protecting the life of your tires. Uneven tread wear, an off center steering wheel while driving straight, and a vibrating steering wheel my all indicate the need for a tire alignment.
  • Wiper blade replacement: When your wiper blades are no longer to make proper contact with your windshield, they may squeak, smear, or streak and reduce visibility while you’re behind the wheel. You should replace your wiper blades twice a year or more frequently if they begin to impair your visibility.
  • Multipoint inspection: A multipoint inspection involves a mechanic visually examining the fluids, body, brakes, cooling system, suspension, HVAC, tires and overall external appearance of your car. It is particularly important to get one before you buy a used car.

If you are in need of a car repair, there are certain strategies that can help you reduce the amount of money you spend. Let’s dive deeper into a few of them.

Comparison shop and negotiate with mechanics

Rates can vary widely among mechanics and repair facilities, making it essential to shop around. You can obtain multiple quotes from mechanics in person, via phone or online.

In addition to comparison shopping, you can negotiate by choosing a family-owned business, asking for a price breakdown to give yourself more bargaining power and/or purchasing your own parts.

Before choosing a mechanic, be sure to ask for references and read online reviews to make sure that they perform quality work.

Do the job yourself

There are some car repair jobs that you may be able to tackle on your own. Jobs such as replacing your windshield wipers and inspecting your tires for wear and tear are generally safe and fairly straightforward enough to handle yourself.

However, more difficult jobs such as tire alignments and battery replacements, which take a great deal of skill and experience should be left to the professionals. By leaving these types of jobs to a trustworthy mechanic, you don’t have to worry about injuring yourself or dishing out thousands of dollars to correct a mistake.

Take out a personal loan

If you have good credit, you may be able to reduce car repair costs by taking out a personal loan. Here’s what you’ll need to do if you’d like to go this route.

  • Research and compare lenders: There are a wide variety of personal loan lenders out there, making it important to perform some online research and compare the interest rates and terms they offer.
  • Get pre-qualified: To get pre-qualified for a personal loan, you’ll need to send certain information to a lender so they can check your income and credit score and determine whether they can lend you money. If you are eligible for a loan through them, they’ll provide you with a quote so you can continue with your application or continue shopping around.
  • Collect your money: The amount of time it takes for you to receive your money will depend on the lender you select. While some lenders distribute near-immediate funds, others can take hours or several business days to do so.
  • Make your regular monthly payments: Once you collect your money, you’ll be responsible for making regular monthly payments. If your loan doesn’t come with any prepayment penalties, you can pay it off early and save a great deal of money on interest.

Skip the dealership

Unless your car is covered by a warranty, the dealership may not be your first pick. You will likely end up paying far more money than if you were to go to a local, independently-owned repair shop. By going to one of these shops, you’ll increase your chances of locking in competitive prices and being able to negotiate.

If you depend on your car every day to get you from point A to point B, you may face car repair costs at one point or another. However, by staying on top of car maintenance and doing what you can to minimize expenses, you can keep your finances in check.


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