The Car Coach: Why are car repairs becoming so expensive?
WASHINGTON: You may have noticed, everything is getting more expensive. We’ve discussed the semiconductor chip shortages, shipping issues, and rising gas prices. People are complaining about everything from higher fuel prices, groceries, and even the kitchen sink, literally! One of the biggest constants in American life is your car. A daily necessity the cost of car repairs just went up dramatically. Why is this?
Why is it more expensive today to have the engine oil changed, serviced, or get replacement parts? What factors are making it more costly? Some of the main reasons for the increased cost of auto services are the shortage of parts including oil filters, increased labor costs, and additional cleaning costs due to Covid. And if certain replacement parts weren’t already expensive – now they are more so. Metal, copper, oil, fiber, ceramics, and especially the rubber industries are all experiencing shortages. We’ve discussed the devastating effects of the shortages on the economy in other episodes.
Many consumers are having problems even getting their car serviced.
A lack of workers, an influx of customers, and supply issues for parts all compound the issue. Shortages of new cars have convinced people to keep their older ones. Last year 41 million used cars changed hands. But with owning a car, new or used, it is important to maintain your car before it needs repairs.
With the season changing, winter tires are one of the delays affecting the Northern half of the country. It’s very tough to find winter tires, the supply chain is broken. Because of what’s happened with COVID, it basically shut down rubber plants in Malaysia and Thailand, and that’s the issue tire makers are having. Keeping tires in stock has been challenging for the industry. Even all-season tires are getting more difficult to locate.
Local mechanic shops are experiencing similar delays, setting appointments for up to 4 weeks ahead of time. I myself need a new door latch on my truck, the dealership ordered it at the beginning of the month, and I likely won’t have it, let alone have it installed until December.
What do you do? How do you keep your costs down?
Get ahead of your car’s maintenance and stay on top of it. Changing your oil with the proper type and interval is critical to getting proper lubrication of your engine. This is the heart of your car. Proper lubrication of the motor allows you to get the best fuel economy. It will also keep your moving parts healthier for longer. Using full synthetic oil is the best way to get these results. Proper intervals for oil changes and other maintenance are based on what your owner’s manual states.
While I understand that many are trying to keep costs down; I do NOT recommend using a lower grade oil, cheaper filters, tires, or anything else that is essential to keep you safe and moving on the road. You will be compromising the life of your engine and potentially causing other issues.
I would suggest looking for coupons, promotions, and using websites like www.caradvise.com to get the best prices in your area.
There are other areas you can save money but this is not the place to do that.
If you have the proper tools, and know what you’re doing, changing oil, wheels, and other basic preventative maintenance can be a simple task.
If you have no clue, I suggest you get a professional ASE-certified technician to do the work. The worst thing you can do is cause damage to your vehicle – which would be a large bill. The amount of money you would save would depend on the labor cost for your vehicle. The cost of the parts and oils will not change, but you will save money doing the work yourself.
Remember when changing your oil, tires, and most other service items, it’s based on the mileage not based on time. Some lights on your dash will pop on based on time, not mileage. Keep track of your last oil changes based on mileage, it’s important to write that inside your owner’s manual. Check your tire’s tread and check your tire pressures once a month against the sticker inside your driver’s door. This will save the life of the tire and give you the best fuel economy and safety year-round. Listen for anything that sounds, smells, or feels out of the ordinary. Don’t delay, the longer you wait to fix something, the more costly it will become!
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Paul Fix contributed to this article.You can follow Paul online @paulfix3 or Lauren @laurenfix
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