One of the lesser joys of vehicle ownership are repairs. They can be expensive; they often occur during the most inconvenient times, and they can be time-consuming, depending on how extensive the problem is.
There are ways to reduce the likelihood of surprise repairs from occurring. First, by adhering to your service schedule in your vehicle’s owner’s manual, your SUV will run in better condition. Not only will this help it achieve better performance, fuel efficiency, and traction--by rotating tires regularly it can reduce tread wear--you also reduce the chances of your SUV incurring repairs.
Of course, you can still do everything right, and stuff happens. If it isn’t a repair due to a recall, you could incur expenses totaling hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Therefore, coming up with a financial game plan to account for these expenses is an important thing to do.
The best option is to save money. That way, when repair expenses arise, it won’t be as damaging to your finances because you prepared for the expense. The best rule of thumb for how much to save is to set aside anywhere from $100-200 monthly. Treat this as an expense in your budget similar to the way you would a car payment.
Using this approach, you could save as much as $2,000 or more annually. Then, when the unexpected happens, you don’t have to charge the expense, or, even worse, finance it through the repair shop. You can pay in cash and be on your way.
Even if you don’t have much in the way of repair expenses, that money you saved could go towards your next SUV purchase. The more you save over time the less you have to finance resulting in fewer total loan costs when it comes time for a newer SUV. Therefore, by saving now, you will save in the future too.
Research Repair Expenses Before Purchase
When buying a new or pre-owned SUV, research is going to be the best way to find the right model for you. During the research phase, it’s important to find a model you are thinking about buying then determine estimated repair expenses during ownership.
An effective tool for assisting you in this endeavor is Kelley Blue Book’s five-year cost to own tool. By entering your zip code then selecting the model you are interested in, the tool projects how much the vehicle will cost you during the first five years you own it. One of the factors it examines is repair expenses. While this figure is only an estimation, it’s a good frame of reference when setting goals for how much you need to save.
You can also examine the most durable SUVs available. J.D Power conducts studies every year on factors such as initial quality where it finds the models that are most likely to hold up well during regular use.
In addition to this, you can search for common repair issues based on models. Many automotive forums have this available, where, if you are interested in a certain model, you can search by the repair issues affiliated with that SUV. This also aids you in learning more about what kind of problems you might encounter when owning that vehicle.
Lastly, you should examine the vehicle’s recall(s), if any exist. Manufacturers have been issuing recalls at record paces over the past few years, so it’s important to stay abreast of these developments. To demonstrate, if the same generation of the model you are looking to buy has had a history of recalls, then it could illustrate a larger problem with the way it was made or parts used. And for anyone that has had problem vehicles can attest, once things start going wrong they don't stop.
Compare Repair Expenses From Different Shops
When the inevitable happens and you need to take your vehicle in for a repair, it’s important to do research to ensure you are receiving a fair deal. It isn’t uncommon to call different shops and receive a wide gap in the prices they charge.
Therefore, it’s important to find research tools to aid you in finding the best prices. A great example of this is Repair Pal. With Repair Pal, you enter in your vehicle’s information such as make, model year, and trim. Then you enter in the service your SUV needs followed by your zip code. Upon submitting this information, Repair Pal provides an estimate of what your services will cost.
Next, it partners with reputable repair shops near you. You can find out how much each shop charges, read customer reviews of a specific facility, contact them for service, and more. This estimator is one of the best tools you can use to ensure you receive a fair deal when your SUV needs repairs.
Other Tips to Assist You
These three suggestions can help you prepare for the unexpected financially. Along with these tips, it’s important to be prepared for dealing with the service shop. Below are a few suggestions to aid you in this:
- Critical Mas recommends having all your SUV’s maintenance and repair services on a spreadsheet. That way, in the event you take your vehicle to a new mechanic, you can share with them this spreadsheet so they know the repairs that have been done to your vehicle already. In many regards, it’s similar to visiting your doctor. By showing records ahead of time, it can help the mechanic diagnose the issue with your SUV more accurately.
- You can also use the suggestions above to vet the best mechanics ahead of time. Often, repairs require immediacy, so you don’t have as much time to do research. With this in mind, come up with a short list of trusted mechanics you can call when your SUV experiences problems. This will reduce the stress of finding a mechanic quickly and reduce your temptation to take your SUV to your nearest dealer.
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