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Ways to save money on car maintenance and repair


It can cost about $1,000 a year or more per year to properly maintain and service your vehicle, depending on what and how you drive. That can take a bite out of your monthly budget. However, you may be surprised to learn there are some things you can do yourself to save a lot of money.

Some repairs are expensive but others, not so much.

“Some repairs are really easy to do -- changing out air filters, wiper blades, even headlights! The parts are inexpensive and readily available,” said Ryan Pszczolkowski, Consumer Reports car expert.

Knowing when to do it yourself or get expert help is key. Just ask Ian Karr, a classic car owner. He understands the importance of maintenance.

“Classic cars are like classic people. The older we get the more maintenance we need. The nice thing about classic cars is that maintenance is fun. Maybe even more fun than working out and the stuff you need to do for yourself,” Karr explained.

You've got a few choices to make. Do you take it to a dealer, an independent repair shop, or do you do-it-yourself?

“You should always bring your car to a dealer for recall work and any issue with the safety systems, including airbag and seatbelt repair. This is because of the ever-increasing complexity of the hardware and software,” said Pszczolkowski.

The same holds true for warranty work and anything to do with the infotainment system.

You can save money on less complex repairs like brakes, suspension, spark plugs and even an alternator, by going to an independent mechanic. They usually have lower labour costs and can keep costs down by using aftermarket parts.

Prevention is another great way to limit your repair bill. Take it easy on the road. Hard acceleration, hard braking and excessive speed will shorten your vehicle's life.

Consider the cost of maintenance and repair before buying a car. It can save a lot of money down the road. The Canadian Automobile Association has a driving cost calculator that can estimate your chosen vehicle's annual operational costs, including maintenance.

In addition, don't be afraid to DIY. You never know what you might achieve.

“With a car, it’s basically you got it right, or you didn’t. The headlight goes on, or it doesn't go on. How many things in life are that black and white? And you get the bonus of saving money at the same time,” said Karr.

Consumer Reports recommends going to a dealership, if you don't normally change your oil at home. It might be more expensive than one of those quick oil change shops but it can be worth it for higher quality oil and a filter that is specific to your car.

With files from Consumer Reports Top Stories

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