5 Ways To Save Money On Car Maintenance

Save Money On Car Maintenance

Counting Savings

Not everyone has the extra cash in their monthly budget to spend on car maintenance and repairs. That’s why you must do what you can to save money on car maintenance. Not following these simple tips can cost you thousands of dollars you could have spent on something else. Let’s begin.

1. Stay Away From The Dealership

Uh oh, I’m going to make some enemies on this one possibly. Hey, this isn’t someone without first hand knowledge writing this. I worked for a car dealership back in the day selling Nissans for six months. Until I learned (for a number of reasons) that job wasn’t for me.

I remember hearing the owner of the dealership screaming at the service department manager and sales managers for new and used cars in meetings about how they needed to step things up because they weren’t meeting their quotas. A car dealership has a lot of overhead to cover monthly. You think they own all of those cars parked out there?  No, they’re – Wikipedia Link > Floor Planned. Look at all those cars…

Car Dealership

You just can’t spend more money anywhere else on car repairs and car maintenance than the dealership. Several years back I was trying to sell a late model pickup and the clicker wouldn’t work. So I bought one on eBay and it wouldn’t program. I then took it to a locksmith, which is the preferred method over the dealership, but they couldn’t program it either.

So I returned it to the eBay seller and bought a used OEM Toyota clicker (Keyless Entry Remote), and took it to the dealership to program it. They were able to do it quickly for just over 55 dollars. And while I was waiting in the customer waiting room, I didn’t realize they were doing a number of other checks on the truck for which I was going to be given a quote.

The one item that I remember to be the most costly for the type of repair was a bulb replacement. Yeah… It was something like 26 dollars to replace just one of the three lights in the roof that illuminate the truck’s bed at night. 26 dollars.

After getting the truck back home, I spent about 15 minutes looking for the bulb in my garage, replacing it and screwing the cover back on. 26 dollars saved and this was just a small light bulb.

Of course if it’s a factory recall that the dealership will do without any cost to you, or you’re someone that makes 6-figures and up annually, then just take it to the dealership and let them rip your head off.


2. Don’t Use National Chain Repair Shops


That’s right I said it and I’m not being mean, just practical. One of those shops quoted me 415 dollars for new spark plugs installed in my wife’s Mazda 6. That’s crazy. I will say that you do have to remove the intake manifold to get to all plugs, but still… Just like a car dealership (although not as much), these national chain shops have a lot of overhead too to cover monthly. So you’re probably thinking, okay, where should I take my car then?

3. Find A Small Auto Repair Shop

small auto-repair-shop

Some of you might think that a smaller car repair shop couldn’t give you a good deal like one of the larger national chain shops right? Wrong. A smaller repair shop doesn’t have as much overhead to cover monthly so that’s how they can afford to give you a better deal. Notice how the shop above just has two repair bays? That’s what you’re looking for. Two or three repair bays. Although, there are some smaller repair shops that are famous for preying on uninformed consumers whose whole business model is to charge steep prices for their services.

Here’s an example. I had a 2000 Tahoe that needed front end work and new tires. I was selling it to a friend (don’t ever sell a car to a friend), and I told him that it needed the work. So he said I should take it to a local shop closest to his work so it would be convenient for him. By the way, the shop had the word “Christian” as part of their name.

After they quoted me the work needed, I quickly learned that there was nothing Christian about this shop. They quoted over 4000 dollars. And the Tahoe’s book value at the time was just over 2500 dollars. That is a great example of greed.

So I took the Tahoe to a mechanic I’ve known for years who owns his own small repair shop. And not because he knows me, but because parts + labor only can bring things to a certain price. He quoted me just over 1800 dollars and my friend decided to use him.

4. Learn How To Troubleshoot Your Car

car troubleshooting

Thus far, I’ve talked about where to take and not take your car for routine car maintenance and car repairs. If you’re that person that I’ve already mentioned who makes over six-figures a year, these last two sections probably won’t speak to you. But if that’s not you, read on.

As mentioned in another post, it’s always a great idea to have some troubleshooting equipment in your garage. Then when something happens to your car you’ll be ready. At a minimum I’d recommend you have these handy items on hand:

  1. Digital Multimeter everyone should own one of these and this is an inexpensive one.
  2. OBD2 Scanner when your car displays a check engine light, you’ll be glad to have one of these.
  3. Air Compressor is an air compressor a troubleshooting tool? No. But they sure come in handy.

The digital multimeter and OBD2 scanner can be see HERE in another post.


5. Do Your Own Car Repairs

DIY Car Repair

You’ll never pay so little when you do your own car repairs and car maintenance. But don’t dress in nice clothes like the guy above. Find an old tee shirt and jeans. I’d recommend you also have a box of nitrile gloves on hand. The link for gloves is on Amazon, but eBay has about the same pricing.

You’re also going to need a floor jack (free shipping from Amazon) and having four jack stands is invaluable. A floor jack will set you back from about 50 – 200 dollars depending on how many tons it can handle, and the jack stands pricing is all over the place. For jack stands, I’d be most concerned with how much weight they can support. Know how heavy your car is before ordering them.

Or if you want to impress your neighbors and car guy friends, and drop some serious cash, go crazy and put a car lift in your garage. Hey, free shipping at Amazon. Assuming you have the normal hand tools like a set of wrenches, hammer, a good ratchet set and a few power tools, that’s all you need to get started.

I hope to have pointed out some great ways to save money on your car repairs and car maintenance.

Drive Safely and Happy Motoring!

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