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MONEY AND FINANCES

What’s the real cost of that auto repair? How to know if you’re paying the best price

(BPT) – Do you take your car’s “health” for granted? Only when the check engine light comes on do you realize how important a fully functional vehicle is to your daily life. Feelings of fear, regret and anxiety often rush in: “Will my car break down?” “Should I have gotten my oil changed sooner?” Can I trust that I’m receiving a fair price for repairs?”

These are all reasonable concerns, according to Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor.

“According to Mintel, on average, drivers spend nearly $1,000 per year maintaining their cars, and that number will likely only increase as the average age of vehicles continues to get older,” says Wiesenfelder. “Even more important, a recent survey by Cars.com and Toluna found that one in three drivers don’t trust that the prices mechanics quote to them are fair. ‘Expensive’ and ‘stressful’ are the top words that come to mind for many consumers when they’re thinking about car maintenance and repairs.”

Knowledge is power, but for many consumers, car maintenance can be shrouded in mystery. Many don’t know which mechanic to go to, how much to pay or if the price they’re being quoted is accurate. Thankfully, tools and resources are available to help drivers confidently navigate the automotive service and repair process. Here are a few expert tips, resources and busted myths to arm you with the information you need to make informed, confident decisions about car service:

1. You probably don’t need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Due to technology advancements, many auto manufacturers recommend changing oil at intervals of 7,500 miles or more for new cars.

2. Does a dirty air filter really hurt performance? A clogged air filter won’t significantly affect fuel economy, but it can reduce acceleration from 6 to 11 percent, according to a U.S. Department of Energy Study. For that reason, it’s a good idea to periodically visually check the engine air filter.

3. Cars.com has launched a new ”Service & Repair” feature that provides a fair price estimate for different types of service, helping ensure drivers never overpay. The online tool also helps drivers find local service providers and offers reviews from actual customers to help them find a quality mechanic.

4. Drivers expect the tires that come with their new vehicle to last a long time, but tire life depends on many factors, including: the quality of the tire, its treadwear rating, whether it is an all-season, summer performance or winter tire, the type of vehicle and where and how it is driven.

5. Service engine? If the check engine light comes on and has a steady illumination, that indicates a possibly serious issue, and it should be dealt with quickly by a mechanic. If the check engine light is flashing, find a place to park the vehicle and turn the engine off as quickly as you safely can. Ignoring your check engine light increases the likelihood of additional problems.

For more information, tips and to learn more about Cars.com’s Service & Repair tool, visit www.cars.com/auto-repair.


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