Car repairs are one of the most common debts people find themselves in. And with the cost of living continuing to rise, it’s no wonder many people are struggling to keep up with their car payments. But there are ways to avoid debt when your car breaks down, and this blog post will explore three methods for doing just that.
Method #1: Use an Extended Warranty
If you have an extended car warranty, now is the time to use it. Most extended warranties will cover major repairs, like a broken transmission or engine failure. And while you may have to pay a deductible, the repair will likely cost less than if you had to pay for it out-of-pocket. If the deductible is worrisome, you can find other ways to save money in your car budget to set aside the savings to use when you need to pay the deductible.
What is an Extended Car Warranty?
An extended car warranty is a type of insurance that covers major repairs to your vehicle. Extended warranties typically last between 3 and 6 years, depending on the terms of your contract. An extended warranty covers the car past the initial warranty granted by the manufacturer and can be purchased from a third-party company to cover used vehicles.
Method #2: Learn to Work on Your Car
One of the best ways to avoid debt when your car breaks down is to learn how to work on your car at home. There are many resources available that can help you do just that. YouTube is a great place to start, as there are thousands of videos on how to perform various repairs on all makes and models of cars. You can also check out your local library for books on car repair. Finally, there are some online forums where you can ask questions and get advice from experienced mechanics.
A licensed and trained mechanic should still handle complex repairs, such as transmissions or electrical issues. However, many minor repairs and routine preventative maintenance tasks can be done quickly at home with minimal tools and an afternoon to dedicate to the project. Tasks such as oil changes, brake changes, and air filter swaps are often done by DIY mechanics without specialty tools or much challenge.
If you’ve got a friend or family member who is mechanically inclined, you may benefit from their mentorship during your first few maintenance projects. Most maintenance projects are simple and quick to perform, no matter what kind of car or where you live.
Method #3: Find a Reliable Mechanic
If you don’t feel comfortable working on your car, find a reliable mechanic who can do the repairs for you. Ask your friends and family for recommendations, or look for online reviews of local mechanics. Once you’ve found a few reputable mechanics in your area, get estimates for the repairs needed before making a decision.
If you need a significant repair not covered by your extended warranty or DIY knowledge, talk to your mechanic and see what payment plans they can offer. Many mechanics can work with you on rates and due dates, especially if the issue is something like an engine failure rather than a simple problem with the brakes or tires.
When you’ve established a relationship with a local repair shop, you may find that they can work with you on payments or reduced rates. You can also qualify for discounts (such as veterans, retirees, or first responder discounts); you only have to ask the manager or owners of the shop.
When looking at mechanic shops to consider, don’t immediately go for the big-name shops. These locations depend on their name to bring in customers and often overcharge for tasks, assuming you aren’t going to check their prices against other companies. Some local mom-and-pop shops will have better rates and more specialized knowledge of the problem.
If you drive a rare or luxury car, you are better off finding a shop specializing in your car’s brand, as big-name shops are often trained on generalized equipment. Usually, luxury or foreign cars have specialty products or complex systems that need special care.
Bonus Option: Check with your Local Community College or High School Automotive Program
Many schools have an automotive vocational program that can help you get the repairs you need at reduced costs because students are doing them under the supervision of a master mechanic. While these programs cannot perform some significant repairs, routine maintenance and minor repairs are within their skills and training.
Many Options to Save
Whether you prefer to work on your car at home or trust a reliable mechanic to do the job, there are plenty of options for avoiding debt when your car breaks down. Whether you need to change a tire, replace brakes, or overhaul the engine, you are sure to be able to find an affordable solution. Take advantage of the resources available and stay proactive in your maintenance needs to keep your car running smoothly!
Following these steps, you can avoid debt when your car breaks down and get back on the road without breaking the bank.