Driving down maintenance and repair costs

Car suspension
Most car owners have experienced that sinking feeling when the mechanic at the garage starts rubbing his – or her – chin and looking serious and sorrowful. If they suck in air through their teeth, the sinking feeling can soon become completely disorienting. No matter that you thought you were going in with a small problem. That expression tells you it’s probably going to cost you a lot more than you thought. A lot more. So it probably comes as no surprise to find that, according to research from garage scheme Trust My Garage, the average British motorist forked out hundreds of pounds to repair whining engines and wonky wheels and patch-up scrapes and dents last year. Almost two thirds (64%) of the drivers who responded to its poll paid out up to £500 for unexpected car repair bills in 2013.

Grand designs

They could be called the lucky ones, though. More than a fifth paid out in excess of £500, with 22% saying that unexpected repairs cost them between £500 and £1,000 last year, and a further 10% shelled out more than £1,000. When it comes to the reasons for the repairs being carried out, issues relating to vehicle exteriors, engines and wheels are the most common causes, with more sophisticated parts – the electronics and computer management systems – resulting in the highest bills. But Terry Gibson from Trust My Garage believes that motorists could slash the amount they spend on unexpected repairs by taking their vehicles for regular services: “While nothing can absolutely guarantee that a vehicle won’t become damaged or require repairing, regular servicing at a local, trusted independent garage can certainly help,” he said.

Service with a smile

Certainly, inefficient, under-serviced engines can reduce fuel economy by 10% or more, so it makes financial – as well as safety – sense to have your car serviced regularly. Staying up to date with your services is just one way to avoid costly repair bills. Recent research from Britannia Rescue, a breakdown service, shows that seven out of 10 drivers don’t know how to carry out basic checks such as testing the oil level. Saving is easy. Checking your tyre pressure once a week, for example, will help to cut fuel consumption, as well as making the tyres last longer and perform better in potentially dangerous situations.

Don’t be a dipstick

And making sure your oil level does not go above or below the maximum and minimum marks on the dipstick is a good way to reduce the chance of having to visit a garage, while ensuring you have enough coolant and brake fluid should help to keep your car in better health.

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