AAA: Car needs repair? Can't afford it? Here are two things to do first

Posted at 6:26 AM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-10 10:26:18-04

If you don’t have an automotive emergency fund, you’re not alone. According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers – or 1 in 3 motorists – would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt.

An average repair bill can set a driver back between $500 and $600, a figure that is expected to grow as vehicles become more advanced. Complex vehicle systems are more costly to fix. Additionally, the technical skill and specialized equipment necessary to execute repairs are also more expensive.

Newer cars come equipped with systems to make driving more safe and comfortable, but this technology comes with a cost. Many consumers struggle with costs associated with auto repair as a result of failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their vehicles.

Repair costs soar when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs.

While car payments eventually end over the lifetime of a vehicle, operating costs do not. A small savings plan can go a long way in reducing the anxiety of unexpected auto repair costs, according to AAA.

To avoid an unexpected car repair, the auto club recommends vehicle owners follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and identify a repair shop they trust. And if faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests drivers:

Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle. Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.

Negotiate the repair bill. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs. 

AAA offers a variety of automotive resources, including AAA Owned and Operated Auto Repair shops and AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities. For more information, click here.