3. Pay attention to warning signs
Taking your vehicle in for regular maintenance doesn’t relieve you of responsibility.
Just as you should keep an eye on tire pressure and the levels of coolant and oil, you should look for other signs that something is wrong:
- Do you hear a thumping in the back?
- Do you smell burning oil?
- Is something leaking, leaving a puddle on your driveway?
Meanwhile, an online diagnostic tool like this one at AutoMD can help.
And if the check-engine light comes on, don’t ignore it. It could indicate a simple problem or a major one.
Don’t know what all of those warning signs on the dashboard mean? AutoZone provides a handy explanation.
4. Find a trustworthy mechanic
Having a good mechanic is essential to your car’s well-being. Having one who doesn’t overcharge or rip you off in other ways is important for your bank account.
The best way to find a good mechanic is simply to ask around, zeroing in on friends and colleagues who know more than the basics about vehicles. Also check online for complaints.
Give a new shop a try. Ask if the shop has experience repairing vehicles like yours. If you’re not satisfied with the results, try another shop that’s been recommended.
Tip: Independent shops can be more affordable because they don’t have all the overhead that dealerships do.
5. Use aftermarket parts
You will have to get service done at an independent shop to take advantage of this opportunity, but using aftermarket parts can save you a substantial amount of cash. Aftermarket parts can be just as good, if not better, than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.
An aftermarket part is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the car’s maker. If the parts are direct replacement parts, they will not void your car’s warranty. A number of companies make parts designed to function the same, or in some cases even better than the original.
But sometimes aftermarket parts aren’t as well-made, so Edmunds suggests you do your homework. This is where a trustworthy mechanic can help.
Edmunds also recommends using OEM parts when you’re repairing collision damage or having work done on a leased car.
6. Research the price before you go
If the estimate you receive at a shop seems highly inflated, get a second estimate elsewhere.
7. Look for discounts
Before making a visit for service, look for coupons, including at the shop’s website. Don’t see any? Just ask. Maybe the shop gives a discount to AAA members.
Also, be on the lookout for the discounted offers that often come in the mail and serve as a kind reminder that your car is due for service.
How have you reduced your auto repair expenditures in the past? Share your tips in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.
Karen Datko contributed to this article.