Can You Save on Auto Repairs?
There's no doubt that having a car can be expensive. While your car gives you reliable and safe transportation to work, school, and social activities, you probably spend at least $1,500 a year on car insurance, maintenance, and repairs. In addition to routine maintenance like oil changes, new tires, and a new battery, you can expect routine repairs as your car ages and the mechanical components wear out. As you probably know, auto repairs can quickly add up. Even basic services like brake pad replacement can cost up to $300 per axle while more involved work like fuel pump replacement can cost up to $800. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to save hundreds on necessary car repairs by getting several estimates and doing your homework on what needs to be done.
Questions About Saving on Auto Repairs
1. How can I save on transmission replacement?
A: Transmission repairs and replacement tend to be the most expensive auto repairs you will ever face. The average cost to rebuild your transmission is up to $3,800 but transmission replacement can easily top $8,000. The good news is there is room for significant savings on a new transmission. A rebuilt or used transmission can cost hundreds less than a new transmission. This option is especially great for older vehicles that are otherwise reliable. You can buy your own remanufactured transmission and then find a qualified mechanic to install it. To do this, you will need to know the right transmission identification. You can find this by search your vehicle's year, make, model, and engine size.
2. Is there a way to save money on fixing a broken tail light?
A: Tail light assembly replacement can cost several hundred dollars with a mechanic or the original dealership. If you aren't afraid of a little hands-on learning, you can replace the tail light yourself without much knowledge. Modern tail lights are sealed units with reflectors, signals, and bulbs. To swap them out, disconnect your battery and open your trunk or hatch to gain access to the tail lights. You may need to remove the storage tray or spare tire to access the back side of the tail lights. Sometimes this requires removing a trim panel. Remove the bulb holders from the back of the assembly by rotating them. Next, find the nuts that retain the tail lights to slide out the assembly. To install the new assembly, reverse these steps.
3. Will buying my own parts save me money?
A: Even if you aren't up to doing your own car repairs, you can still reduce the cost by purchasing your own parts. All car repairs involve two costs: parts and labor. When a mechanic supplies the parts, they will charge a premium. Buying the same parts yourself can give you a big discount. Just make sure you choose a repair shop that is willing to install customer-supplied parts and make sure you get the right parts. Sometimes auto body shops require that you buy parts from an approved supplier to keep the warranty on the labor.
4. Do I really need to get more than one estimate?
A: You rely on your car and it can be difficult to get by while waiting for repairs. While you certainly want to get your car fixed as soon as possible, don't feel rushed to go with the first mechanic who gives you an estimate. Do your research and find at least three reputable auto shops in the area and get estimates from each that include parts and labor. This may require taking the car in to be inspected but you can usually do it over the phone if you know precisely what's wrong with the car, such as requiring a new fuel pump. Because prices can vary by hundreds for even basic auto repairs, you can save a significant amount by comparing estimates around before making a commitment.
5. Is it better to have multiple parts replaced at the same time?
A: Many car repairs require removing several parts just to get to the part that needs to be repaired or replaced. If your car is over 60,000-80,000 miles, you can save money by having several repairs performed at once. For example, if you know your belt drive needs to be replaced now, you can save on repairs in the future by replacing the radiator hose and water pump at the same time because they will also need to be replaced around the same time. This can avoid duplicate labor charges down the road.