When you own a car, the costs add up quickly. A basic sedan costs over $9,000 on average, plus there’s gas, insurance, and maintenance costs to consider. In 2013, car maintenance cost Americans an average of $750 per year- yet 27% of Americans report being dissatisfied with repairs services they have received from a mechanic, with most being dissatisfied with costs. What can Americans do to spend less money on unnecessary car repairs?
First of all, it’s important to know what repair costs you’re likely to encounter. Your repairs tend to come from the same few parts of your car. Your engine is the most important part of your car, so it needs more frequent repairs. Your tires and your brakes also have a finite lifespan, and some newer cars have tire pressure monitoring systems that are prone to bugs and malfunctions.
Although these are common repairs, they’re not usually the most expensive. A blown motor can top out at $4,000 to repair, and a transmission replacement can cost between $1,800 and $3,500. The labor to replace your car’s head gasket costs between $1,200 and $1,600, and your air conditioning compressor can cost between $200-$600 to replace.
While many of these costs are unavoidable- after all, you want to drive a safe car- there are things you can do to cut down on auto repair costs. Keep your eyes peeled for common scans, like a verbal estimate or charging for repairs covered by warranty or advertised as free. Use mechanics recommended by your friends, family, and the Better Business Bureau, and ask for a written invoice that lists exactly what repairs were done and what parts were replaced, plus itemized costs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the details of your repairs and replacements, and pay in full only after the agreed-upon repairs are completed.
That said, remember that most mechanics are honest, hard-working people. If you have a positive experience with a mechanic, pay it forward by recommending him to your friends and family so that trustworthy mechanics will receive business over disreputable mechanics.