5 Tips to Reduce Car Repair Costs

If you’re looking for a new car it’s because you depend on your own vehicle for most of your transportation needs. It makes sense, then, to take care of it and help it to last longer by investing in maintenance and repair. But is there a way to avoid costly repairs?

Knowledge is power. All it takes is a little research to make the process of car repairs easier instead of a time consuming – and expensive! – hassle. That’s why Ontario Cars would like to share the 5 best tips to reduce car repairs costs with you. Taking these steps will empower you to know if you’re being overcharged or upsold without compromising on necessary repairs and services.

If you’re like most people, you depend on your vehicle for most of your transportation needs. As such, it only makes sense to invest in its maintenance and repair.

1. Work with reputable mechanics and repair shops

Find a mechanic you trust at a repair shop you trust. There’s nothing like working with a qualified, trustworthy mechanic who treats you as a valued customer and an intelligent human being. A good shop will save you time, money, and frustration. From oil changes and brake jobs, electrical repairs and transmission services, to alignment, engine overhaul, and more, it’s reassuring to be able to depend upon conscientious repair jobs at reasonable prices.

The best way to find a reputable shop is to ask friends and family for recommendations. Another option is to consider CAA approved auto repair services where CAA South Central Ontario members receive 3% in CAA Dollars on any vehicle repair as well as a one-year/20,000 km parts and labour warranty per repair, while all members of the Automobile Protection Association(APA) receive a list of reliable repair shops in Ontario.

2. Pay attention to preventive maintenance

Taking the time to schedule preventive maintenanceis one of the best things you can do to ward off costly repairs. Preventative care protects your car’s engine, brakes, tires, transmission, and other components. By enhancing your car’s condition and performance, regular maintenance will greatly decrease the chances of major problems showing up when you’re least prepared for them. You’ll be driving with the confidence that your care is safe and secure.

Your car manual contains a complete guide for routine maintenance that can avert the need for major repairs later on. By keeping to the recommended schedule for your vehicle, you’ll help your car last longer and save money on repair costs.

3. Get your own OBD-II scanner and run your own diagnostics

When the check engine light comes on in your car, you’ll be able to pull out your on-board diagnostics (OBD) adapter and find out what’s wrong right away. Whenever a light comes on in your dashboard or your car starts beeping, there’s an OBD code associated with each light and sound. A scanner translates the codes into English so you know what the problem is.

There is an entire category of OBD-II code readers and scanners on Amazon.ca. You can also use a smartphone app connected to your car via a Bluetooth dongle. Just make sure to download an app that can help you diagnose issues and perform diagnostics. You want to track more than just fuel economy. Look for an app offers the same features as an OBD-II scanner such as the ability to perform health checks, decode warning beeps or lights on your dashboard, and report problems before they become serious issues.

4. Learn how your car works and do some things yourself

YouTube is a great resource for learning how to do basic repairs – as long as you watch videos from a certified mechanic. Watching these videos will take the mystery out of many common repairs. Even if you don’t do the work yourself, you’ll be better informed and much more able to communicate clearly with your mechanic and repair shop.

There really are some repairs that you can do yourself. Basic knowledge and skills are all you need to replace bulbs, change the cabin air filter, check and top up fluids. With more confidence, you might even move on to changing your own oil and more advanced repairs such as replacing brakes.

Obviously, there are many jobs that are better left to professionals. Attempting them own your own may damage your car and will cost you more in the long run. As a handy reference, Jalopnik community has put together a list of ten car repairs better left to professionals

5. Keep track of maintenance and repairs

The best thing you can do to educate yourself on the kind of care your car needs is to read the manual. If you no longer have it, you may want to acquire the Haynes Repair Manual for your car, either via Haynes in the United States or via Amazon.ca. You can also take a look at the APA’s tips for making your vehicle last longer

When you get work done, check the bill to make sure you’re not being charged for duplicate labour costs, duplicate parts, or extra work not in the original estimate. Michael Allen Smith, a blogger based in Seattle, Washington, suggests creating a car maintenance spreadsheet in Google Docs to keep track of repairs. He points out that it’s far easier to look through a spreadsheet than a folder of old bills to see if a proposed repair, or something similar, was already done. Plus it’s shareable with any mechanic who is working on your car for the first time. Here’s a screen grab of the spreadsheet he published in his post Car Repair Spreadsheet – Why Didn’t I Think of This Earlier?

car repair spreadsheet

Make sure to keep your spreadsheet up to date by periodically reviewing your spreadsheet. You may even want to add a tab for scheduled maintenance

By following these 5 tips, you will be able to keep your car healthy for longer and avoid being overcharged for repairs.

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