When Unexpected Car Repairs Can Drive a Hole In Your Pocketbook

One in three US drivers can’t afford unexpected car repairs without going into debt.

That fun fact is courtesy of a new AAA Automotive Research study.

Because car repairs generally are unavoidable with average bills between $500 and $600, AAA suggests that drivers put aside at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

The survey reports 64 million American drivers would have trouble paying for repair costs with many underestimating the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Generally, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 annually.

However, those costs depend upon the vehicle and if it’s been poorly maintained all along. A previous AAA survey also found one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

It’s important to anticipate a vehicle’s needs before problems strike,” said John Paul, AAA Northeast senior manager of traffic safety… “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”

Before a breakdown happens…

  • Follow the car manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule;
  • Identify a trustworthy repair shop. Visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate a AAA approved auto repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair…

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop what work needs to be done
  • Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis;
  • Ask about discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities – nearly 100 in AAA Northeast territory in New Haven, Litchfield, and Fairfield Counties — that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction.

AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.