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An Easy Plan for a $500 Car Repair Bill

Happy customer discusses repairs with auto mechanic in repair shop.The average car repair bill costs between $500 and $600—an amount that would have many Americans reaching for their credit card.

A recent survey from AAA found that 33% of American drivers would need to go into debt to pay for a car repair. That translates to 64 million drivers without enough savings to cover a routine expense.

How can you avoid being one of them? AAA counsels putting $50 a month aside in savings for a car-care fund.

“To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair,” says John Nielsen, AAA managing director of automotive maintenance and repair.

To avoid such a crisis, AAA makes the following suggestions:

  • When buying a new or used car, look at not only the price and the monthly payment, but also how much that car is likely to cost to own over coming years. Rankings such as Kelley Blue Book’s five year cost to own rankings can give you some reasonable estimates.
  • Stick carefully to the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer. Today’s cars are better made and can last longer than in the past. But to get the most out of them, keep up the maintenance.
  • Find a repair shop you trust. If you are not using a dealership, a good starting point is the AAA list of 7,000 shops that meet their standards for repair work and customer satisfaction.
  • When you do have to go in for a repair, get a written estimate for the work. Try negotiating the estimate and ask if the shop gives any applicable discounts—such as for membership in AAA or AARP.

No matter how new or well-made your car, some repairs are inevitable. So avoid that anxious feeling when hearing the repair cost by knowing you have money set aside to cover it.

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Source: Argent Financial Resource Center