Car Care 101

(Ride or Die)

Consumer Reports estimates that, on average, auto repairs cost drivers 4% of the yearly cost to own their vehicles. So, even if you drive one of the least expensive cars, you could still spend a couple hundred bucks a year or more on car care. Throw in a blown tire or a dead battery, and that number can quickly blow your budget. Here are some ideas for how to manage your car care.

KEEP A MAINTENANCE CALENDAR

Start with your owner’s manual for details on regular upkeep. Or try out free apps to help you track your repairs and make a checklist of upcoming fixes you need to save for.

FIND A COOL MECHANIC

Instead of rushing into the arms of the first mechanic you see when an emergency hits, find a repair shop before you need one.

  • Ask around. The opinions of trusted friends and family members should carry more weight than strangers on Yelp (but still check Yelp, obviously).
  • Hit up the Better Business Bureau. Scour the Better Business Bureau for common complaints about local mechanics to know which auto repair shops to avoid.
  • Don't wait for an emergency. Narrow your options then see how well you like a particular shop with small tasks before the bigger repairs pop up.

STASH SOME CASH

We know, another thing to save for! But think about how important your car is to you, and consider how much you depend on it to get around. Chances are that even if you are a perfect driver (aren’t we all?) something can happen out of your control that leaves you needing money for a repair. Car maintenance costs can add up quickly; better to have some savings on hand rather than max out your credit cards.

SIGN UP FOR ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

Have you ever asked yourself the question: Should I get roadside assistance? Avoid the hand-to-forehead moment when you realize the answer was ‘yes’ and sign up for roadside assistance before breaking down. Do it now. Ask your car insurance provider about emergency roadside assistance coverage. Then consult AAA and compare notes. At the very least you’ll want an affordable service that comes to the rescue if you:

  • Get a flat tire.
  • Need to jump your battery.
  • Lock your keys in your vehicle.
  • Run out of gas.
  • Need a tow.
Hippie thinking chilling in van thinking about car care.

WATCH YOUR WARRANTIES

Most car dealerships offer warranties, but some require you to use specific shops (such as the dealership auto shop). There also may be separate warranties for parts, such as your car’s battery, timing belt and tires. Keep warranty paperwork on hand and register products as soon as possible after you buy them to make sure you don’t miss out on free or reduced-cost replacement parts.

MAKE A CAR EMERGENCY KIT

No one wants to believe an emergency will happen to them. But when it does, you’ll be glad you planned ahead. Whether you need to flag someone down for help or survive a blizzard in your back seat, emergency kits can save you a lot of additional heartache and harm. Now is the time to discover what goes in a car emergency kit.

DON'T FORGET RECALLS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains an extensive database of safety recalls. Sign up for the subscription service that sends out email recall notifications for your vehicle make and model. If something does come up, look for instructions on submitting a safety complaint or acting on a recall. And when something is recalled, take care of it right away.

As always, we’ve got your back. — The On Your Own Team End of article insignia



[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by On Your Own, the National Endowment for Financial Education or any of its affiliate programs.]