Are Car Repair Costs Driving You Into Debt?

Are Car Repair Costs Driving You Into Debt? - changing car tyres image

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Owning a car can be expensive enough without having to then pay for constant repairs on top. Many car owners will spend more money in repairs and servicing than they did buying the car initially. Fortunately there are many ways to bring these costs down and prevent yourself from heading into debt. Here are just a few ways to bring down these expenses.

Know when to make a claim

Third party car insurance won’t offer you any compensation. It’s worth upgrading to fire and theft or comprehensive cover as these could help you pay for damage done to your vehicle by others. When making a claim, it’s important to contact your insurer as soon as possible after the damage has occurred. Some insurers will only allow you to make a claim if you notify them within 48 hours. You don’t have to go through the claim process there and then, but you should let them know. Don’t get repairs until your insurer has accepted your claim and paid out (although it could be beneficial to spend this time getting quotes for repair services).

Similarly you may be able to make a legal claim if you have been injured in a car accident. Some of this money could help to go towards car repairs. Personal injury solicitors can help you to make a claim. Some will operate on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, meaning that you won’t have to pay these solicitors unless you win your claim.

Shop around for repair services

It’s worth getting multiple quotes from different repair centres in your area, especially when repairing major damage. Occasionally, you may be able to get loyalty rates by staying with one mechanic, however this shouldn’t stop you still shopping around for quotes to check that there isn’t anything cheaper out there.

Be wary of repair centres that are charging very cheap rates – they could be making up for a bad reputation. Many repair centres will have reviews online from users. Check these so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Negotiate

Once you’ve collected quotes from different repair centres, consider negotiating the price down. Not all repair centres will be open to negotiation as some may have fixed rates. In most cases, you’ll generally have to speak to the manager. Some mechanics may have an option of paying in instalments, which could make it more manageable to pay.

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Source your own parts

Repair centres will look to make a profit on any replacement parts they need to buy. You can sometimes save money by sourcing your own parts online. Second-hand parts will be cheaper, but could be partially damaged – meaning that they’re prone to breaking sooner in the future. Buy these parts from a trusted parts dealer. If you do decide to buy from an independent seller, make sure that photos are supplied so that you can guage an idea of the condition or buy locally so that you can go and inspect the part in person before buying. Be aware that legal requirements on the condition of parts varies from country to country. For example, when buying partially worn tyres from another country, be aware that the tread depth of those tyres may not be legal in your country.

Phone a friend

Do you have a friend or relative that’s handy beneath the bonnet of a car? If you trust that they are proficient enough, you could go to them for repairs for a discounted rate. Alternatively, there may be some repairs that you yourself feel confident enough to take on. There are Youtube tutorials and online how-to-guide on most car repairs. It could be worth visiting a mechanic afterwards simply to check that your work is up to standard, most mechanics will be able to check over your vehicle for free.

Take preventative measures

The temptation may be to only fix things that need immediate repairing. However, quite often you can save money in the long run by investing in preventative repairs. A worn brake pad could be causing you to apply more pressure on the brake pedal, putting more strain on other parts. It could be wear down your tyre too. Replace this part early and you could delay other parts having to be fixed. Preventative repairs may even prevent accidents in some cases.

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Keep fluids topped up

You’ll be amazed how many faults are the result of allowing fluid to run dry. Don’t wait until your oil levels are dangerously low – the oil keeps all your parts lubricated, stopping them from grinding against one another and prolonging their lifespan. Engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and washer fluid are other liquids to keep on top. Whilst obvious, you should also keep fuel regularly topped up. Try not to let your tank run almost to empty each time as you could be putting a greater strain on your engine.

Do you really need a hire car?

When getting your car repaired, consider whether you really need a hire car in the meantime. Car hire costs are usually very expensive. It could be worth going without a car for a couple weeks and catching a lift from a friend or using public transport. Be aware that some insurance policies may pay for a hire car.

Is it time to sell/scrap your vehicle?

There may come a point when you’ve spent too much on repairs and it’s time to call it quits and buy a new vehicle. You can sell damaged vehicles but must specify this damage – there may be some buyers who still want to take it off your hands and pay for the repairs. Alternatively, when it comes to serious damage, it may be better to simply scrap the vehicle. You’ll get a small amount of money for scrapping – it won’t be enough to pay for a new car but it will at least give you some money to put towards a new vehicle.  

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