Author Topic: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs  (Read 835 times)

socaso

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How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« on: July 24, 2018, 04:58:44 PM »
We have two cars and in our present situation we need both. Both our cars are older, a 2009 and a 2007 and have high miles, over 100k on both. Over the course of the last 12 months we have spent $6800 in repairs for both and it's driving me (insert curse word) crazy. We don't have car payments on either and are not in a place right now where we can throw in the towel and get a different car so I am wondering how others handle these expenses. Neither of us are particularly handy when it comes to cars and maybe that is what is getting us. I feel sick to my stomach when I think we could have put $6800 into savings over the past 12 months. This money bleeding has got to stop!

FrugalFisherman10

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2018, 05:31:36 PM »
You can't ultimately avoid repair costs. You gotta take a step back and realize that a car is something that will need to be maintained/repaired, and that's part of it. Embrace that, as your car is something you're thankful to have (wow, this machine can zip me across town at high speeds with very little risk of anything i may have encountered on the Oregon Trail! I'm so thankful for modern transportation. and sometimes my little car is going to need to get something fixed and that's ok!)
 I think this is a slightly more accepting/less brash view than "CARS suck! Kill your Car! It's Killing you! You know how to avoid repair costs? Don't own a CAR ! YEAH!"

 I mean sure, if you're city and life situation allow that, then don't own a car. end of story. Maybe work towards leading a life where you don't need a car for your weekday commuting, if it doesn't mean sacrificing salary to do so (I'm thinking of a highly paid, driving around town, salesperson who shouldn't give up their nice commissions for their sales job just to lead a bike-centric life).

The kind people of this forum recently encouraged me to take on some repairs myself, and I did so (you can follow along here: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/car-troubles-asking-the-experts-wwyd/)
Yet I didn't do all of them myself, because after researching what it would take to compelte some of those repairs, it just seemed like more than I was interested in taking on.
I also have the convenience of being able to bike to work everyday if I need to, and it's not a huge deal. And I don't have anyone depending on me at home (I'm a young single guy) in the evenings, (family, kids, etc.) so I was probably more able to mosy about getting the research and repairs done over a two week time frame as opposed to needing them done right away.

All that to say, the best way to reduce your repair costs is to start trying to do them your self. You won't ever 'become handy' if you don't start somehow. Huge caveat though is that so far in my opinion, this is not necessarily the "lowest cost" way of doing things. It is absolutely lowest $ cost, but not lowest "absolute cost/effective cost" (whatever you wnat to call it). once you calculate the time it takes you to fix something, it's not nearly as much of a slam dunk.

I would say an intermediate step to doing the repairs yourself is learning. Theoretically, you could learn a lot of stuff about your car from a distance, through research, never having done any of the work yourself, and know:
A) when a repair the mechanic is suggesting isn't really required (or at least not yet)
B) when a repair is being quoted too high  (you should always shop around regardless...that takes time though)

If you spent that much on car repairs on two vehicles in the last year, I'm thinking you did some things that weren't absolutely necessary. I see cars like taxes...defer payment (on repairs) as long as you can. + If it ain't broke don't fix it.
I'm sure someone can tear holes in that logic but it's just my opinion

MoStache

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2018, 09:38:32 PM »
What kind of cars are they and what were the repairs? 

The cost of maintaining a vehicle varies dramatically based on your vehicle and your mechanic.

1) Sell these money pits and buy a couple fully depreciated Corolla's.
2) DIY the repairs/maintenance and/or find a cheaper/better mechanic.

Syonyk

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2018, 10:16:43 PM »
We have two cars and in our present situation we need both. Both our cars are older, a 2009 and a 2007 and have high miles, over 100k on both.

... so, "less than a decade old, and barely over a decade," and "at least broken in."  I assume by "over 100k," you don't mean "300k."

What are they, exactly?

Quote
Over the course of the last 12 months we have spent $6800 in repairs for both and it's driving me (insert curse word) crazy.

Can you list the repairs and cost?  That's an awful lot of money, and if I had to guess, I'd say you were paying new-car maintenance rates for dealership maintenance when a third party shop would do the work on your out-of-warranty vehicles for a good bit less money.

Quote
Neither of us are particularly handy when it comes to cars and maybe that is what is getting us.

So... buy a toolkit and learn?

If you know how to work on your own cars, you can either do the work yourself, or decide that what someone wants to charge you is a very, very reasonable sum of money.  I've done most of my own maintenance (a bit less now than I used to, now that I can afford to pay someone else), and the work I've farmed out has generally been as much "Paying someone for their building" as doing the work.  Replacing wheel bearings sucks.  Replacing wheel bearings when it's roughly 0F out, if I can afford to pay someone to do it, sucks really bad.  So I paid someone to do that.  I've also paid someone to do some work on my truck when it was a thing that a lift made far, far easier, and it was also the middle of winter (there's... a bit of a theme here, which is, "I don't like working on cars when it's well below freezing out").  But I also know what's going into repair work, so if someone wants to charge me an utterly obscene amount of money for something simple, I'll politely inform them that I'll go do the work myself.

For things like tires, waiting around and collecting coupons is typically well worth it.  Back when I was flat broke, I managed to stack a few coupons and discounts to get a set of 4 new tires for an old Subaru, installed, for $125.  Free installation, seriously cheap tires, and a few other discounts.  The sales guy was genuinely impressed, but couldn't come up with any reason that I couldn't stack all these things...

So... details on the cars and repairs?  You probably could have spent an awful lot less.

Khaetra

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2018, 04:38:19 AM »
If you can (meaning you don't live in an apartment where working on cars is prohibited), get in there and get you're hands dirty!  Do some things that can be done yourself, like tune-ups, oil changes, some part replacements, etc.  And don't take the car to the dealer for work!  They are more than happy to charge you much more than other shops in town for things you can't/don't feel comfortable doing yourself.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2018, 11:36:15 AM »
We have a couple of 2003 vehicles with one over 200k miles and one that will hit that in a year or so.

We spend less than $1k per year on maintenance for each vehicle. How?

One is a Toyota and the other is a Lexus. Basically bulletproof cars.

We stay up to date on oil changes and routine maintenance. We get it serviced the second something seems off (in the rare case something is off).

We ignore non-essential repairs. One of the automatic door locks doesn't work. We won't get it fixed. The other doors unlock, and that one can be unlocked from the inside.

We have a trusted mechanic that is honest about what can wait and what needs immediate attention.

Do all those things, and you won't be paying a ton of money for cars.

Ecky

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2018, 12:26:49 PM »
Auto locks failed in my car. Turns out the actuator was bad. Part was $18, took 30 minutes of YouTube and 30 minutes of opening the driver door and unbolting the old actuator, then bolting in the new one.

Taking it to a dealership might well have been a $500+ adventure.

I agree with others, those repair costs sound very high. Additionally, 100k miles to me is a "low mileage" vehicle, but my standard is Honda/Toyota.

patchyfacialhair

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2018, 12:35:09 PM »
Auto locks failed in my car. Turns out the actuator was bad. Part was $18, took 30 minutes of YouTube and 30 minutes of opening the driver door and unbolting the old actuator, then bolting in the new one.

Taking it to a dealership might well have been a $500+ adventure.

I agree with others, those repair costs sound very high. Additionally, 100k miles to me is a "low mileage" vehicle, but my standard is Honda/Toyota.

It's a stupid Lexus part that is several hundred dollars. My mechanic is a family member who double checked that we weren't overreacting. Thus, we live with it.

pecunia

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Re: How to avoid or reduce car repair costs
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2018, 12:42:28 PM »
It may be too late for you, but I learned that the dealers will sell extended warranties.  These do have mileage limitations.  I would not get one from a third party as they are often not worth the paper they are printed on.

Of course cares need to be maintained, i.e. oil changes, belts, etc.  It is amazing how many people just give you the duh look if you mention this.