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How To Save Money On Your Car Repairs

Updated on August 22, 2012


Shelling out hundreds of dollars for auto repairs can really blast holes in anyone's budget.

Finding out that you got ripped off is even worse.

The most important thing you can do to avoid spending needless dollars into the hundreds and thousands is this one thing......properly maintain your cars. It's as simple as that.

It doesn't mean you won't have repair bills sooner or later because let's face it....all cars need repairs.

But you can substantially eliminate many needless and more expensive bills later on if you follow the guidelines in your owner's manual and properly maintenance your cars.

Let's look at some other ways though to save big bucks when the need arises.

public domain photo
public domain photo


  • Make sure you know your car. Read your owner's manual and understand what makes it tick, where things are located. Then go buy yourself a book on your specific car and keep it. refer to it when you need to learn something or troubleshoot.

    Haynes Guides or Chilton's Manuals are wonderful places to learn about your car and also can teach you how to maintenance them yourself in some tasks.

    Yes, you heard that right....even in today's cars with everything hidden far, far away, there are still some things you can do yourself and save money.
  • Do it yourself. You can do simple repairs like replacing bulbs or even changing your air filter. Who can't refill their window wiper fluid?

    You can also do your own oil changes if you really want to save money, replace plugs, or even pull parts like alternators and radiators and switch them out.
  • Be realistic. For the things that you can't do and that our outside your skill set, you'll need a mechanic and this can be the single most frustrating experience known to man or woman....trying to find an honest mechanic and one that isn't going to charge you enough to make you want to scream.

    Check around and verify any mechanic's credentials.

    If they are backed by AAA or are certified by an agency like the Automotive Service Councils (ASC), you probably can breathe a sigh of relief.

    Taking your car to the dealer is usually okay....but be prepared to spend about twice what another mechanic might charge you.

    Now that you've decided you need an honest to goodness mechanic though, there are still more things to know!

public domain photo
public domain photo


Once you go to a mechanic, interview him like you're hiring him.....because you are!  Ask what the problem is, add what you think it could be (by researching it first on line or reading your manual), and then get an estimate. estimate does not mean 'fix it'.  It means tell me how much you're going to charge me (gouge me) to fix it.  

Ask for parts quotes on everything as well. 

Some mechanics will mark up parts by as much as 100%  That's insane!  More on that in a minute. 

If you have a little bit of time, take that estimate and shop around to at least another mechanic and see if things are shaking out the same.

Now you've gotten your estimate, if you have time, take a pop back to your computer and go to  This is a website that will generate a free/independent estimate of what a particular kind of repair should cost and it's listed by zip code. 

You can get the sense if you're getting reamed or if it's a legitimate repair bill. 

So now you're set to have an alternator change let's say and you've decided that Joe Smith is going to charge you less than Bill Blue.  But you've heard that mechanics jack up the prices of their parts (as above) by as much as 100%. 

So you ring Joe back up and say 'hey, Joe, the price you quoted me is just keen but I've decided I want to get my own alternator and bring it in.  Do you have a problem with that?' 

If Joe's a smart mechanic and I think he will be, he'll say sure....bring it in. 

If he's not very bright or he just likes jacking up prices and passing it on to his customers, he'll say 'no way' and then you repeat this exercise with Bill Blue and Bill gets the business instead of Joe. 

You can save a TON of money by getting your own parts. 

For even more savings, check online for parts wholesalers. 

Check junkyards, check auto parts stores, and After WILL save money hands down.

public domain photo
public domain photo


Another great way to make sure you're getting your money's worth? Watch the repairs. This is the surest way to know that someone is actually working on the problem and replacing what they SAY they're replacing.

Always ask for the broken parts so that you'll be able to verify if there was truly a broken part.

You can also save money by using a mobile mechanic. These are fellows who work at dealer service departments or independent mechanic shops and they do work on the side.

You can save 20% to 50% on shop rates by using these guys and they'll work on your car in your garage! Even better!!

Summing it up then, you can see where a little research pays off in the hundreds of dollars category so take the time to do it if you possibly can.

public domain photo
public domain photo


Remember to:

  • Know your car inside and out
  • Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance it properly
  • Do it yourself if you can
  • Research like the devil is chasing you if a problem crops up
  • Find a good mechanic and stick with him
  • Take your parts with you

Save money!!!

And if you find a great mechanic, make sure you spread his name around.....even go on and leave a good review!


  • Blue - wiper fluid
  • Brown - oil
  • Red/oily - transmission fluid
  • Dark brown/slightly green and oily - gear oil
  • Bright green/orange and watery - antifreeze/coolant
  • Clear/slightly brown - brake fluid or clutch


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      ASB - Your story is very helpful - and it happens all too often. That is the point - we should be able to save ourselves, eh? Thanks so much for the read.

    • AllSuretyBonds profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Hub. Very informative and useful information. Sometimes it is a good thing to get a second opinion. I know when I had a problem with my car, they told me it would cost me almost $1000 to fix the problem. It seemed outrageous to me, so I got a second opinion and it wasn't even the problem and ended up costing me only $450!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for the read, Mike and especially for the tip - will have to check out if I can change the settings!

    • MikeNV profile image


      10 years ago from Henderson, NV

      Thanks for the link to RepairPal I had not seen that before, that looks like a great way to check prices even though the ranges were pretty wide. When I'm making hubs I like to set the links to open in a new window so people can go and read the links then come back to my pages and continue with the articles. I mention this because when I clicked on RepairPal and started digging in I had a bunch of other windows open and thought I lost your article.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much oceans!

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      10 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Thanks for sharing your savings tips on auto repairs. I hate needing to get my car worked on! Congratulations on your win as well :)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Homewad - Thanks so much for your kind remarks...I'm just figuring things out I think as I go along but so glad you like!

    • homewad profile image


      10 years ago from Africa

      I must confess that you are too good. I appreciate your intelligence and skillful article. I have learnt a lot from you and I still stick to you to learn more.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks MJ - for the read and the kudos!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      That's cute, Howard....what a fun 'hobby'. Last stretch now and we'll probably miss writing about finances. (Somehow I still have to publish the other ones I wrote...I did 140 but I've found it hard to get them all arranged and posted so now I'm left with a folder full of almost there' you might be seeing a bunch more about finance from me THEN I'll get back to what I do best...comedy and recipes....and dogs!)

    • Michael Jay profile image

      Michael Jay 

      10 years ago

      Wow! Another wonderful and informative hub, Akirchner. Congratulations on the win. :)

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 

      10 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      All of my cars make noises when I get them; eliminating the noises is part of the fun. I like to buy old foreign cars and fix them up. We gotta get off this MGOH month so I can write about my interests!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Howard - GREAT point! I tend to forget about's one of those things I am quite frightened by in fact! That's probably why I forgot about it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the quality of my article by your brilliant comment!

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 

      10 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      Melbel, if you sound like you don't know anything about cars, he'll know it's true. If you've done just a bit of internet homework, you'll be able to use the right terminology. It doesn't matter that your diagnosis is wrong. When he tells you the correct diagnosis, he has no idea whether you are savvy or not, so he has to be honest.

      Also, it helps to identify where a noise might be coming from. I don't think akirchner mentioned that. And if the noise comes from that thingy over there, it's labeled in your owner's manual.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much, Nell~!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      10 years ago from England

      Hi, Audrey, just wanted to say, Well Done! yeah! lol

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for the read, Gordon....and people can live without cars~! Our visually impaired fellow has always relied on public transpo and it probably save him a LOT of headaches!

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 

      10 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Gave up my last car in 1994, simply because I hate driving and prefer public transport. Still recognise great advice, however, and am sure this will be useful to a great many people.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Darski....great idea!! Bob might not think that was too cool though...but I'll ask him~!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      10 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Hello again, it's only me...You forgot something really immportant and could save you all your car repairs and NO worries. Marry a mechanic, if he's not that cute who care, this will work I tell you. I should try to listen to my own advise. Serious Audrey this is an excellent hub, you really pull off a perfect A+ hub rate up love & peace darski

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Pamela...the pups are mushing me onward!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Audry, Congratulations on your win. Go Gal!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Steph - I gave Bob the printout for the colors - even though he 'handles' all this, he sometimes has questions himself! Pays to know the colors I said!! Thanks for the read!!

      Melbel - I think talking to them might be okay but I still am going to look up any repairs from now on on the internet and see what I come up with - Bob too!

      Johnny - Thanks so much for the read and for stopping by! I totally hate getting hoodwinked, so hope this helps other folks as well!

      Purple---Thanks so much!!

      LTC - I totally agree - and even my hubby feels the same way because he knows just enough to be 'dangerous' and is always worried he's getting ripped off!

      Hanna - SUPER - I'm so glad someone knows what to do to keep from getting reamed!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      That is exactly what my son done. He saved himself a fortune and it was done properly.

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      10 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      Hey, many thanks for this advice. My husband and I are pretty good now with sorting out the house, but we feel absolutely in the power of the car mechanic. These seem like great tips that are achievable. I'm going to print this out and file it with the car inf. Congratulations on yet another win.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Esther Shamsunder 

      10 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Congrats again! Truly useful and bookmarked!

    • Johnny Parker profile image

      Johnny Parker 

      10 years ago from Birkenhead, Wirral, North West England

      Melbel is right mechanics can try to pull the wool over the eyes of women. Following some of the above tips will help them to realise you know your stuff and stop you being ripped off.

    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Palen 

      10 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Is there a way to talk to the mechanic to avoid getting ripped off? As a female, I've heard that a mechanic will know you are "dumb" about cars and rip you off. My dad used to go with me when I was younger to show the mechanic that someone is there who knows a little about cars so we wouldn't get ripped off. I'm just wondering if this is true... And, if so, is there a way I can talk to mechanic to avoid being ripped off. (I also don't want to make accusations, because that's just not me.)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Marshall 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great job! Personally, I save frustration (but maybe not money) on car repairs by leaving them to the hubby... LOL!

      I especially loved the color guide for the floor of your garage. I guess if it looks like a Jackson Pollack painting, you are really in for it! ;-)

      congrats on the great win

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Pamela - I think I'm with you (and everyone) on that score!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Audry, I hate auto repairs, or rather auto problems. This is a very good hub with lots of solid advice.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much, Suziecat and I surely have been a mad hatter lately, or something!

      Thanks so much for the thumbs up - and even Bob said...'gee, I never thought about that' so guess we can all learn something!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      This is a great Hub - and you have been whipping them out like crazy lately. As a person who always buys used cars, your sage advice is appreciated. I've never thought to ask for the broken parts before. Rated up!


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