Have you budgeted for this?
Owning a car has its expenses, such as gasoline and regular maintenance. But what about those unexpected expenses that can suddenly happen, like a blown engine? Are you able to afford those surprise repairs? According to a recent AAA study, it turns out that a third of Americans are unable to afford sudden car repairs without going into debt. That translates into about 64 million people, and that's a serious problem, especially since the US doesn't have good and efficient public transportation, the exception being large cities like New York.
"The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars," said John Nielson, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. "Drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair." The average car repair bill is around $600, but that can easily and quickly increase if a car hasn't been properly maintained. A previous AAA study found that "one-third of US drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs."
The fact of the matter is that unexpected repair costs are bound to happen, especially for those living in areas of the country, such as the Snowbelt, where serious winter weather can damage cars even more. What about weather-induced potholes? Those can easily blow a tire or cause damage to a car's underbody. To help avoid unaffordable sudden car repairs, AAA recommends that US drivers get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the works that needs to be done in the first place. They should then negotiate the bill, and see if the shop offers payment plans to help lessen the burden. Of course, the best thing to do is save money if possible, and to maintain the car regularly.