Tips from a mechanic friend, Giles Kirkland of Oponeo.
Running a car isn’t cheap but there are often costs that can be avoided if you have a little knowledge about your vehicle. However, some garages might not choose to tell you this, as it means the lose out on the profit. Yet this can stand to save you plenty of money over the years and across the various cars you may drive, so it’s worth learning a few tricks of the trade. Here are 5 car costs you can often avoid, even if your mechanic doesn’t want you to.
Avoid Additional Repair Costs With Receipts and Guarantees
A good mechanic will stand by their workmanship. As testament to this, garages often offer timed guarantees on their work. For example, if they replace your suspension system, they could offer a year or two-year guarantee. In other words, the quality of their repairs should hold up during this time and, if not, you can get free repairs within this period. You should be aware, however, that repair guarantees are not a legal requirement but it’s worth shopping around for this, as it stands to reason garages that offer this are proud of their service. Still, you should always keep receipts of the original work, including written proof of the guarantee, to remove plausible deniability down the line.
Maintenance And Servicing
Similarly, you don’t need to pay a garage every time something needs changing. While it’s not advisable that you start tinkering with your engine without any knowledge, there are some excellent car maintenance guides online that can help you with the simpler stuff. The same can also be said for your tire air pressure. Why pay a mechanic to measure something a cheap sensor can do for you at home? On this note, consider, throughout your driving life, how often you will have to replace bulbs, air filters or engine oil? Imagine if you had to pay a service fee of $50 for this? Over the years, this could easily add up to a three-figure sum or more. Taking an hour or so to learn a little basic car maintenance will ease your reliance on your mechanic and make it much harder for them to convince you into paying over money for simple fixes.
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer and, as you might imagine, these are often quite expensive. However, most of the time you’re simply paying for the brand name. If your car is long past its original warranty, there’s little to no need to maintain OEM-only equipment. This is beneficial to you, as there are plenty of third-party aftermarket parts that are designed to be competitively priced and with a high level of quality. With a little research, you can find some fantastic options. Many even come with a year’s warranty or guarantee of their own. Of course, your local dealer isn’t going to sell you these, because they only have their own OEM parts stocked. Similarly, even independent garages have a limited selection and may not stock a certain supplier. Yet you should also know that you don’t need to use their parts at all. There are plenty of garages that allow you to buy your own parts online and bring them in. This way, you just pay the garage for the service.
When most people think about cars, their tires are the one area that is instantly recognized as replaceable. At some point, you will need new tires and this is where many garages, again, can try and up-sell you in terms of value without any gain in quality. For example, if you only ever drive in city environments, you don’t need tires especially adapted for winter, since the roads you drive on are well maintained. A garage might try and convince you otherwise, because this lets them sell you a new set of tires and a servicing fee to fit them. If you don’t encounter snow or winter conditions, stick with summer or all-year around models. These often improve your fuel economy, too, helping to save even more.
It Might Be Cheaper To Replace The Car
Finally, as any car gets older, the repairs often become more frequent and the annual bills become higher. For garages, this is a good source of money, but you should look at your figures and learn when it’s cheaper, in the long run, to replace or replace your car. If you have a rough idea of the costs of a new car, try comparing this to your existing annual costs. Add up the insurance (including the excess), average annual repair fees and other maintenance costs. If this value is starting to grow past the cost of a new purchase, surely it’s better to just get a new car? This replacement will be in better condition, requiring less maintenance, and may even come with less insurance. If you find this is the case, make the change. Unless your mechanic offers a scraping service, there isn’t any profit in them sharing this advice. Of course, you should always look to recycle car parts, as the various alloy metal, glass, rubber and plastic parts are invaluable.
For one final tip, and Elayne’s #1 tip, is to always find a reliable mechanic when your car isn’t in need of repairs or tests. This way, when the big or surprise events come up, you already have someone to turn to. This way, you’re not walking into garages in a panic and willing to pay more than you need to.