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I took my car into the shop this morning because it was cutting off at red lights. Needless to say this freaked me out and I had nightmares of the car stopping on the highway or something. I went to start the car this morning and it was completely dead. I couldn’t even open my doors with the button key chain. My husband was about to give the car jump, but then my car started. I immediately headed to the shop down the road. I described in detail every problem I’ve had with the car for the past week to my mechanic and within 30 minutes it was repaired. I was relieved to find out it was a minor problem with my fuse box.

This repair got me thinking about how to cut costs if you own a vehicle. It is definitely good to have an emergency fund for unforeseen car repairs. The best thing, however, is to keep up with your routine maintenance on your car. We all think we’re saving money by not constantly going in for oil changes, but in the long run were damaging our car. That lazy habit, in turn, means higher costs at the mechanic shop.

It’s good to check your car’s fluids on a weekly basis. You don’t have to be mechanically inclined to do this; just put the matching fluid into the right hole. It sounds too easy to save money, but it’s one of the biggest things you could do.

One overlooked way to cut costs when repairing your car is to be as specific as possible with your mechanic about the problems you’re experiencing. It might seem silly, but I have repeated sounds to the best in my ability to the mechanic. Believe it or not, a good mechanic appreciates that, because it saves them time from fiddling with your car. I am fortunate enough to have a reliable mechanic. If he can fix the problem within half an hour, then I only get charged for the part (usually $10).

When you are detailed, the mechanic can diagnosed problem quickly, saving you labor costs. The average for mechanic here is $75 an hour. You can see how even cutting one hour can save you big bucks. Save yourself some heartaches.

A piece of advice that I always hear is that you should not wait on getting things fixed with your car. It is something that needs to be repeated because many of us don’t do that simple thing. How many times have we heard this little sound and keep ‘forgetting’ to take it by the shop and then find out that more extensive repairs are needed?

Of course, if you live in a city where public transportation is reliable and cheap, then have in a car may be an unnecessary expense on your budget.