At AAMCO Minnesota, we provide exceptional, cost-sensitive service for your transmission and car maintenance and repair needs. We understand that saving money is often a requirement because you’re on a budget – and maintaining a safe and reliable vehicle can seem like an expensive proposition. AAMCO provides expert car maintenance and repairs without breaking the bank. See our complete lineup of transmission repair and automotive repair and maintenance services.
Sometimes those noises your car is making just have to wait until the next paycheck – or worse, just go unchecked and become larger, more expensive problems. Short of a becoming a complete do-it-yourself mechanic and opening up shop in your own garage, here are some tips and simple things you can do to maintain your car on a budget (and some AAMCO coupons you can use to save money).
Changing your car’s oil is probably the most important and cost effective preventive maintenance you can do. If you take it to a shop, the national average price for a basic oil change is about $46. If you do it yourself, you might be able to save a few dollars, but your actual savings might depend on some factors such as the age of your car, the kind of oil it requires, the brand you choose, tools needed, disposal of used oil, and your time. However you do it, the cost of an oil change should be in your car maintenance budget first and foremost.
Some shops, such as your local AAMCO service centers, offer free multi-point checkups to make sure your vehicle is running smoothly and to check for any warning signs of larger problems beyond standard maintenance. These checkups usually are a thorough review of all major systems in your car and a check to make sure you are completely up to date on recommended factory maintenance. If done properly by a reputable mechanic you trust, it can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Independent Shops vs. Dealerships
When you do need to take your car in for maintenance or repairs, it helps to do some research if you don’t already have a reliable mechanic who you trust. Even if you do have a “go-to” mechanic, you can help yourself by doing a few simple things to make sure you’re not charged too much or unnecessary work is being done.
- For each problem they find with your car have them explain anything you don’t understand.
- Have them provide a separate written estimate with the total cost of parts and labor for each separate problem they find.
- If there is an entry on your bill for “shop supplies” or similar, ask what it is and have them itemize the supplies. They might not take it off your bill, but they’ll know you’re savvy.
- If they suggest replacing parts – even just air filters – ask them to see the worn or broken parts (they have to take them out to know if they need to be replaced, so this should be your first clue to whether they’re being honest).
- If an estimate doesn’t seem right to you, call some other shops in the area and request a quick estimate for the same job. If something seems amiss, ask your mechanic about it.
- If you are searching for a mechanic, do your homework. Social media and review websites are sometimes a good place to start. Additionally, word of mouth and recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers can help. Tell the shop so-and-so recommended them. A lot of shops are cognizant of their reputations, especially when it comes to work garnered by referrals.
You can save money with aftermarket parts and avoid paying unnecessary markup for manufacturer’s brands. Many independent shops will deal solely in aftermarket parts, or ask what your preference is before ordering. Also be sure to get clarification on whether the parts are new or rebuilt/refurbished. They need to be up front about this. Obviously, any cost is passed on to you, but with an independent shop you will at least most likely have an option.
Do It Yourself
At AAMCO Minnesota we’re always happy to help, but here are some easy things you can do yourself that usually don’t require special tools or training.
- Change air filter
A clean air filter is important to prevent dirt and other debris from getting into and circulating throughout the engine.
Tools required: None
Approximate time to complete: 10-15 minutes
Estimated cost: $10-$20.
- Change windshield wipers
Windshield wipers serve a pretty obvious function and should be checked frequently. Both wipers should be replaced at the same time.
Tools required: None
Approximate time to complete: 10 minutes
Estimated cost: $10-$25 per blade depending on brand, size, and features.
- Check & adjust air pressure
Tire pressure can affect gas mileage, handling, and ride. It is important to maintain the optimum pressure for the kinds of tires you have, and the seasons and conditions in which you drive.
Tools required: tire gauge, air compressor (if you need to add air to tires).
Approximate time to complete: 20 minutes.
Estimated cost: Free if you need air and have your own air compressor; 25 to 75 cents at some gas stations.
Coupons and Specials
No matter where you take your car for repairs, there are savings to be had. Many dealership service departments and independent repair shops offer coupons or specials – sometimes as much as 30 percent off retail prices. Check your mail, email, and newspaper inserts for coupons. Making a service appointment online might also qualify you for a discount. Be sure to check the web before you go. Check out current AAMCO coupons for money-saving deals.
At your local AAMCO you get cost-conscious total car care, from transmission repairs and oil changes, to tune ups, mufflers, brakes, and air conditioning service – all at a price that is easy on your budget. Schedule an appointment with us today at one of your local AAMCO Minnesota locations.