After a post I did a few weeks ago ARE YOU 70% OF AMERICA? detailing that 70% of America live paycheck to paycheck.  I was wondering how prepared people are for unexpected expenses.  A major expense that can really hurt a household is automotive repairs.  My husband is a mechanic and he is always approached by friends and neighbors looking for car advice.

When the “Check Engine” light comes on in your car, it can be very scary.  When that little light comes on it can be something simple or a repair that can cost you over thousands of dollars.  The questions is…..How do you know what the light means?  Just taking the car into the shop to find out what the light means can cost a pretty penny.

THINK FREE!  Before you take your car into your local dealer to find out what to do with the “Check Engine” light, consider all your options.  Your local parts store such as Autozone or Kragen often offer a free diagnostic check of your vehicle.  The systems from the local parts store may not have as significant equipment as your car dealer, but they can usually help determine what is wrong with the car.  This free option is definitely worth a try and a great way to start.    

Once you know what is wrong with your car, consider taking it to a smaller local mechanic instead of a large dealership.  Use the information provided by the free diagnostic center to contact local mechanics and ask how much they charge to repair the problem.  Let them know that you are calling around for estimates because some shops may do the work at a reduced rate just to get your business.

In some cases you may be able to save money buying the parts yourself.  Some shops may charge an hourly rate and mark up the parts as well to make a little extra money.  If a local shop will charge you by the hour and you can purchase your parts from the local auto store or on-line, and pay the shop for only the hourly rate to fix the car.  Make sure to get an estimate of how long the job takes in advance. 

When possible, save money and purchase used parts.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important to used new parts in most cases when repairing your car…..but sometimes you can cut corners.  If you need a new head light, door handle, bumper, or non-mechanic part consider a salvage yard or used part dealers. 

Some small jobs can be done at home.  Not everyone is handy with automotive repairs, and some vehicles have computers, hard to get to engines, or require special tools to fix most problems.  If you are a little handy and you know what is wrong with your car, sometimes you can look on-line and watch videos on youtube that will walk you through fixing your own car.  It is not recommended to have an unlicensed repair person fix safety elements of your vehicle such as brakes, steering, etc.  If you need to replace the spark plugs, look on-line to see if it is something you might be able to do yourself.

Don’t forget preventative maintenance!  To avoid often expensive trips to the mechanic, try to follow the scheduled maintenance plan that is suggested for your car as outlined in your owner’s manual.  preventative maintenance can save you money throughout the life of your car.

  • 1902 the first speeding ticket was issued.
  • 1916 55% of cars in the world were Model T Fords.
  • 1922 the first gas gauge appeared in cars
  • 1929 the first car radio was invented
  • 1938 Buick introduced the electric turn signal
  • 2002 SUV’s accounted for 30% of all cars sold


  1. Good job! Most people don’t consider the cost of running their vehicle and how it could be preventing them from pocketing a few extra bucks every paycheck. Good job!

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