According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle.
Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.
“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, including maintenance. But surprisingly, AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “To avoid a surprise down the road, we all should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and, especially, the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”
Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.
Before a breakdown , AAA recommends that vehicle owners:
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
- Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate a nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.
If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:
- Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle. Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
- Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.