Stop Paying Too Much for Auto Insurance!

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car ownership

car maintenance and repairsAlthough the general focus of this web site is on the buying process, the car ownership period can have its own set of pitfalls. The money you save by getting a great deal on the purchase and financing erodes quickly when you find that you are overpaying for necessities such as auto insurance, maintenance and repairs. And, since these expenses are ongoing, their total cost can often approach the initial purchase price of the vehicle! Here are some hints on getting the best value for those items associated with vehicle ownership.

Maintenance

One of the easiest ways of helping to avoid major repair costs is through a regular program of general vehicle maintenance. An early diagnosis of a problem is almost always less expensive than waiting until it is too late. For example, replacing brake pads is a lot cheaper than having to replace both pads and rotors because the low pads have torn into the rotors. Beware, though. As expensive as it may be to under-maintain a car ("pay me now or pay me later"), it can be just as expensive to over-maintain a car. For dealerships and repair shops alike, "maintenance programs" are a BIG profit generator. A $300 maintenance service may have a cost to the service facility of well under half that amount.

Maintenance Hints

  • Deal with established service facilities--you will most likely have more recourse should something go wrong.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule--it generally will be less extensive (and expensive) than programs recommended by the service facility. By following the manufacturer's recommendations, you will protect your factory warranty coverage.
  • Keep records of all maintenance (dates, mileage and amount paid). It could save you aggravation should you have a dispute with the manufacturer over a covered warranty repair.

Repairs

One of the largest sources of complaints received by consumer protection agencies involves auto repair. Due to a large degree to vulnerability (you often can't drive a broken vehicle) consumers are exposed to all manners of rip-offs, scams and blatant overcharges. Many news organizations have done exposes of dishonest repair shops and schemes, and a fairly common recommendation is to educate yourself on the types of scams that can befall you. These can include adding repairs that are really not needed, the use of shoddy or substandard parts or simply padding the bill with unnecessary charges.

Repair Hints

  • If possible, always get second (or third) opinions. You'll find that estimates for repairs will often vary widely--not only in price but also in the scope of the repair (why replace 10 parts when replacing only 8 does the job safely and adequately?)
  • If you are concerned with the possibility of major repairs, you may want to consider the purchase of an extended warranty. See the warranty section for more information.
  • Be watchful of the rip-offs and scams that seem to abound in the car repair business. Keep up-to-date on news accounts of the different pitfalls that can prey on the automobile consumer. For an excellent and in-depth view of these rip-offs and scams (as well as dozens of other important tips), read Corey Rudl's best selling Car Secrets.

Insurance

Even after the initial cost of a vehicle is absorbed, the cost for auto insurance goes on and on. Many car owners simply stick with their current insurance carrier, not realizing that there may be $100, $200, $300 or more in savings to be realized simply by doing a quick comparison.

Insurance Hints

  • Consider raising your deductible.
  • Shop around. The Internet has made this incredibly simple. What used to take hours and numerous phone calls can now be done in minutes. Sources such as InsureMe can compare a number of insurers and give you free online quotes.
  • Take advantage of all discounts available. Some policies may offer discounts for air bags, anti-lock brakes or theft deterrent systems.
  • For additional hints on saving money on your insurance, see the section devoted to auto insurance.

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