If you have to inquire, it's safe to assume you can't afford it. That means tens of millions of Americans must be asking themselves the same question each year. According to a new AAA research, the average auto repair cost is between $500 and $600, and one out of every three motorists can't afford to pay it without going into debt.
Furthermore, automobile owners are putting off normal maintenance, leading to difficulties down the road driving up repair expenses even more. According to a separate AAA research, a third of American drivers put off or ignore necessary maintenance and repairs. This not only raises the risk of future repair costs but also increases the likelihood of a vehicle failure.
"While neglecting maintenance and repairs may appear to save money in the short term, staying on top of automobile care may save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run," said John Nielsen, managing director of AAA's Automotive Engineering & Repair division.
According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is $8,500, which includes monthly payments, insurance, and gas. A new timing belt, for example, costs between $400 and $900, an alternator or starter replacement costs $400 to $600, and brakes cost roughly $500.
Here's what we suggest for keeping your car — and your wallet — in good shape:
- Make a monthly budget of $50 for auto repairs.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance routine, which can usually be found in your owner's manual or on the internet.
- Before you find yourself in need of a mechanic, get to know one.
- Obtain a written estimate for unexpected repairs and confirm which repairs are required with the mechanic.
- If you can, get a second opinion.
- Take advantage of any store discounts or payment plans that can help you lower your out-of-pocket costs, and see if there's any space for cost negotiation.
If you want to reduce the repair costs of your vehicle, read this blog about repair insurance.