Auto Repair - A Lesson in Investing into the Life of Your Vehicle
As a vehicle owner, you know that maintenance and repairs are worthwhile investments. Some vehicle repairs can be unexpected but easy enough to fix, a flat tire, a dead battery, or a blown fuse. However, some repairs require more time and more money to fix, a transmission problem, wear and tear to the vehicle over time, or a failed air-conditioner. Regular maintenance is key to prevent most repairs, but you never know what is ‘just down the road’ for your car or truck. Knowing how to make small repairs, and knowing when to take your car in for inspections, maintenance, and repairs is key to extending the life of your vehicle and getting the most out of your investment.
Outside of routine and seasonal maintenance, oil changes, tire checks, air-conditioning or winter-proofing, having a trusted mechanic to inspect for any potential problems before they happen is a financially savvy choice. Most mechanics do free inspections routinely when you bring your car or truck in for oil changes, tune-ups, and even wheel balancing. But did you know that if you bring your car in at the first sign of trouble, you could save yourself time and money in the long run? Replacing your breaks when they first start to squeak is a faster, cheaper option than having to replace rotors or bearings if you wait too long. Ask your mechanic about any strange vibrations, noises, steering problems, or electrical issues, even if they seem only small nuisances, before they become greater issues.
Emergency repairs don’t always need a tow truck if you educate yourself before hand on simple things, how to jump-start a car, how to replace a dead battery, and how to fix a flat. Check your auto-shop’s website, many of them have repair guides and step-by-step how-to checklists on making simple repairs. However, once a flat tire or faulty battery is fixed, you still need to take it in to your auto mechanic to make sure it is in safe and working order and so underlying problems can be detected. Most great tire shops also have ways to repair your flat, which saves you money over buying a new tire. You can also check with your tire provider if your specific brand or model comes with a warranty.
Some other handy tips and tricks to help you feel more prepared for the unexpected:
- Travel with jumper cables. These can be purchased almost anywhere and on any budget.
- Invest in a portable battery. Like jumper cables, this will help you get back on the road after a dead battery with the added bonus that you won’t have to flag down a stranger or call a tow truck.
- Make sure you have a working jack and your spare tire is in good condition.
- Carry an emergency kit in your car. These kits typically include simple tools, a flashlight, and emergency items like flares.
- Program your auto insurance, roadside assistance, and your mechanic into your phone. In the event of a tow, many roadside assistance programs can tow directly to your mechanic.
- Do your homework! Many auto shops and mechanics have great websites that offer information on maintenance and repairs where you can compare prices, research products, and in some cases request a quote or schedule an appointment.
- Have a plan to be able to pay for unexpected repairs. Interesting ideas include: Put aside 5 dollars, or round up to the nearest 10 every time you fill your gas tank and stash this away for emergencies. Set up a savings account specifically for car repairs and have an amount deducted monthly from your paycheck. If your car is close to being paid off, continue setting aside that amount monthly into your account to pay for maintenance, repairs or even new tires.
A little maintenance goes a long way, but being prepared in the event of unforeseen repairs can help you save time and money and make a stressful situation seem manageable. Don’t forget you can always call your auto mechanic or stop in for an inspection to ask questions, a trusted and highly skilled technician is your ally in helping you extend the life of your vehicle and protect your investment into it.