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Car Repairs on a Tight Budget: What the Shop Needs to Do — and What You Need to Do

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As costs increase, your budget can get hit from all sides, forcing you to cut back on things you might otherwise pay for without a second thought. That creates problems when you have things that you must pay for, like auto repairs. When you're not able to simply give the OK for all the repair work to be done at once, there are still things you can do to keep your car working without totally ruining your ability to pay bills and buy food.

Look for Fixed Pricing

Find a shop that offers fixed pricing. Repair times vary, and that can make the labour portion of the repair cost increase beyond what you thought you'd have to pay. You need to know what the repair will cost so you can figure out if you can afford it, which means finding a place that will charge what they tell you. Or, if they discover something that needs more work and more time, they'll stop the work and get your permission first. No one wants a more expensive surprise when they go to pay, so the shop needs to be one that knows what something will cost.

Look for a Shop That Will Prioritise

If you need a lot of repairs, the shop should be able to help you prioritise which repairs need to be done first. A number of shops will, unfortunately, tell you that everything needs to be done at the same time, and that's not always the case. Sometimes it is, but the shop should be able to tell you why, with details. Be wary of reasons like, "It's best for the car," or "You can't do one repair without the other" without a detailed explanation of why. Many times, you need some of the repairs done now, but others can wait a couple of weeks.

Get Your Maintenance Done

This won't help you if you're currently looking for a shop to deal with a repair you need now, but in the future, do your best to stay on top of maintenance. Many repairs are necessary because the age of the car and the part have led to the part wearing out, but maintenance can prolong the life spans of many of the parts in the car. And, whenever you bring the car in for maintenance on one part, ask the shop to look over other parts, such as belts and hoses. Inspections can reveal small problems that, if you fix them now, will not lead to more expensive repairs later.

For more information on automotive repair, contact a professional near you.