How to Save Money When Servicing Your Car

Gas Station

Responsible car ownership means keeping your machine well-oiled and finely-tuned. If you want to make the most of your investment and stretch the amount of miles you can rack up beneath the hood, then having your car regularly serviced is a must.

However, we tend to avoid the mechanic because almost without fail, every time we take our car in, they inform of us some interior issue that needs repair. Whether it’s bad brakes, worn out tires, or leaking radiator, it feels like every time we walk away from what should have been a standard servicing, we’re hit with a bill that’s much higher than we initially anticipated.

So how do you keep your car in great condition and drive it to the millionth mile, while avoiding paying for unnecessary repairs? We have some suggestions! Keep these tips in mind the next time you need to service your vehicle (Hint: It should be every three months!).

Know What You’re Paying For

Let’s say the light goes on in your car and you remember that you’re due for a service. You take it down to the mechanic and routinely hand your keys over with the promise of returning later that afternoon. But do you know what you’re actually paying for? At a minimum, your car service will include an oil change, a filter change, and a visual inspection. Did you mechanic ask you what type of oil you prefer to put in your car? While it’s his job to provide a suggestion, it’s also his business to earn profits, and he could automatically go for the premium grade synthetic oil unless you otherwise specified that conventional oil was fine. Think of it like a bartender serving you a classic rum and Coke; unless you specified that you wanted their El Dorado rum from the well, you might end up paying for top-shelf Ron Zacapa in your drink (and the more expensive spirit doesn’t even taste that much better!).

Shop Around Mechanics

Finding a mechanic you can trust is paramount. You need someone that will always be honest about the severity of a repair, upfront about the price (with justification in parts and labor), timely with the service, and trustworthy enough to leave your car and keys unattended. Women, this is especially true in your case, as mechanics often try to take advantage of female customers who they believe are naïve enough to agree to unnecessary repairs. Finding an honest, skilled auto technician can feel like a needle in a haystack, but it’s not impossible. Taking your car to your local certified dealership can better your chances of ensuring your baby is left in good hands, as these mechanics must be trained on specific manufacturers. For example, if you receive Audi service in Westmont, your technician will probably be more skilled than your general mechanic in the greater Illinois metro area. However, if you’re looking to save money, staying off the lot may be your better bet. Shop around, compare service prices, and if they suggest a repair must be made, always get a second opinion.

Research Savings Programs

Don’t leave money sitting on the table! There are plenty of deals to be had, you just need to know where to dig. First and foremost, check with your car company. General Motors, for example, introduced the GM Reward Program in which customers can earn points for purchasing paid service at participating dealers. Points can be redeemed on accessories, OnStar services, protection plans, and even a new vehicle! If you don’t drive a GM, you can still save on your car service by going to a mechanic who offers a similar “frequent flyer” rewards program, or someone who offers a discount for submitting a review on Yelp. You’ll also find companies that offer car service deals and coupons with regular promotions. With the right research, you could avoid a full-price car service for quite some time. It might sound like a lot of work, but at the end of the day, proactive and preventative maintenance is the best way to save thousands on costly repairs down the road.