Here are three things you can do to trim down on your auto repairs costs in the future.
Save Money On Replacing Your Air Filter
Your cabin air filter cleans the air that comes inside the car from the heating and air conditioning system. It catches pollen, dust, and other airborne material that can irritate you. The rule of thumb is to change your air filter every 12,000 miles, but of course, this depends on where you drive and live.
Changing the cabin air filter is super quick and doesn’t require any tools at all. Whenever you get an oil change, they might have recommended changing this for you for $45-$50. The parts alone only cost $15-$25 depending on the make/model of your car.
Now if you take this to an auto mechanic, you’ll end up paying their labor cost plus the parts cost. Most mechanics will charge a markup and parts, which could bring your total to $90-$100 for what should cost $15, plus the ten minutes it takes to switch the filter out. That’s a big difference.
Buy Your Own Car Parts
This part is a bit tricky but can save you a ton of money. While some may not recommend buying your own car parts since they won’t be covered by warranty, buying simple car parts like brakes or struts can save you a substantial amount of money.
When you take your car to a shop, ask for an itemized estimate for all the parts that need to be replaced. The estimate (for obvious reasons) won’t tell you the exact brand of the parts, but it will give you a part number. Research this part number online to find the exact part your mechanic would’ve used. Next, call around to various shops to see if they will install the parts that you bought online. This will be the most difficult part. The downside to this is that your parts won’t be covered by warranty.
Mechanics always put the next scheduled oil change sticker on your windshield for one reason: they want you back in the store as soon as possible! As mentioned above, getting an oil change is a great way for a mechanic to upsell you on certain services that you may not need (such as replacing air filters).
A lot of newer vehicles today don’t necessarily need to get an oil change every 3,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to see how often an oil change is recommended. At $50 per oil change, if you can get away with an oil change every 7,500 miles, instead of every 3,000, you’ll save over a thousand dollars across the lifespan of your vehicle (assuming your car lasts 100,000 miles).
If you break this down into annual savings, it may not feel like much, but it’s the little things you do every day that will add up to bigger savings in the long run.
Other Tips and Advice
If you’re faced with an expensive repair, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the lowest price. When you’re getting an estimate, be aware of the exact parts that each shop recommends that you replace. Some shops may recommend that you make unnecessary replacements, so make sure you’re getting more than one opinion.
Another thing you can do immediately to make your brake pads and rotors last longer is to follow at a greater distance while driving. Accelerating and braking constantly will wear down your brakes, and you can substantially increase their lifespan by hanging back and taking it easy on the pedal.