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How to Avoid Costly Auto Repairs

Get in the driver’s seat when it comes to auto repairs.

For most of us, a car is our second biggest expense following mortgage or rent. If you own one, you know that when it decides to become more expensive is rarely scheduled. One day you’re driving along and then your car starts hissing, smoking, or clanking. As soon as you’re sure you won’t wreck, your first thought usually is, “Okay, now how much is this going to cost?”
 
Here are a few ways to take some of the stress out of the surprise.

Purchase a service agreement or extended warranty

New vehicles come with a warranty that will typically cover car repair or replacement parts for 36,000 miles or three years, whichever comes first. An extended warranty, available for both new and used cars, is an opportunity to extend coverage, but never assume that it covers labor or all parts. Also, you might risk voiding the warranty if you don’t abide by suggested maintenance schedules. You can learn more about vehicle warranties and maintenance by visiting Clearview’s Member Auto Center.

Buy only the technology you’ll really use

Know what you need to be comfortable and focused behind the wheel. We all have our own tolerance for roughing it, but are auto-dimming mirrors, heated steering wheels, automatic high beams, and heads-up displays necessary? Maybe for you, they are. Remember, the more bells and whistles a vehicle has, the more there is that can go wrong. Many of us probably know a car lover who hates “all those extra wires” under the hood. Make sure you’re comfortable, but remember you’ll be responsible to maintain what you’re buying.

Keep up with regular maintenance

Oil changes and fluid checks, tire rotations, brakes and brake pads, hoses, and belts are all part of regular maintenance. It’s best to follow the schedule found in your owner’s manual. Little fixes along the way can prevent big ones later on. This will keep you on the road and your money in savings. Don’t ignore the warning your battery typically gives or you’ll be paying for a tow service, too.

Make saving for vehicle repairs part of your emergency fund 

While we all have plenty of day-to-day expenses, any amount you can put into an emergency fund will grow and accumulate. Getting started will put you more in control of your finances and reduce stress.
 
There are various opinions about how much you should sock away for auto repairs, but the amount varies on the make, size, and age of your car. A compact economy car will cost significantly less to repair than a luxury brand or a larger vehicle. It’s expected that older vehicles will require more repairs than new ones. According to AAA, “common repair costs average $500 to $600 and in many cases go much higher.” Therefore, it’s recommended that you save at least $50 per month to cover unexpected repairs. If you need help getting started, we have some tips on emergency fund planning.
 
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