When you are driving, unexpected lights coming on in your dashboard, odd noises, weird smells, and strange steering sensations may all be reasons to get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. While these automotive symptoms may turn out to be something simple, they can also turn out to be indicators of a serious problem with your vehicle. With the average automotive labor rate ranging from $50 - $150 depending on where you live, a trip to your auto repair shop can result in a large repair bill. If you do not have this type of cash sitting around, here are a few things to try.
Negotiate With Your Mechanic
If your mechanic gives you an estimate that you know that you are not going to be able to afford, ask them for their suggestions on how to lower your bill. Some of the things that you may want to discuss with them may include some of the following:
If all the work you need done is not pressing, suggest that you break your repairs into several different appointments. This may allow you to pay for the work that is the most crucial upfront, and then schedule the lesser repairs as you are able to afford them.
Depending on the type of work you are having done, you may want to ask your mechanic about rebuilding your existing parts, purchasing used parts, or if you can find aftermarket parts that may be cheaper than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) car parts. While this may not be an option if you are using your vehicle's dealership to repair your vehicle, it may be something other mechanics may entertain.
Ask your mechanic if they are willing to barter some of their time for some of yours. This will only work if you are able to offer a service or product that they need, but it could turn out to be a win-sin situation for both of you. For example, if you are an accountant, build websites, clean houses, cater meals, or something else along these lines, ask if this is something that they would be able to use.
Ask if they will be willing to finance your repairs for a few weeks or months, if that is what you need. If this is a mechanic that you deal with on a regular basis, this may be something they are willing to offer.
Apply For An Auto Repair Loan
Auto or vehicle repair loans are basically personal loans that are made for the purpose of you being able to fix your vehicle. They can be found in two different forms with one or both being available through your selected lender. These forms are:
Unsecured - This means that you will not be responsible for supplying any type of collateral. These are sometimes referred to as a signature loan. You may be able to find these loans through your bank or credit union.
Secured - These loans require some type of collateral, which is most often your vehicle's title. This is only possible if you have enough equity or value in your vehicle to cover the amount you need. You may also find these listed as pink slip financing or title pawn loans. You will hand over or have a lien placed against your title until the loan is repaid, but you will retain and be able to continue to drive your vehicle.
Home Equity Loan
If you are purchasing or own your own home, you may already have a home equity line of credit in place that can be used to pay for your automotive repairs. The interest rate on this line of credit is normally much lower than what you will be able to get for a personal or a title loan. If you already have a line of credit, accessing it may be as simple as writing a check or using the card that your lender supplied you. If you do not have a home equity line of credit already set up, contact your lender to see if that is an option.
Using a home equity loan will give you a longer time frame to pay off your loan. This will give you lower payments, which could be really important if your budget is already tight. The downside to this type of loan is that the loan is secured by your home and could result in foreclosure if it is not paid back.
Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee that you will never have a large auto repair bill, but one of the best ways to help to avoid one is to ensure that you are performing your regular maintenance when it is scheduled. This will give your mechanic the ability to look for major problems before they leave you on the side of the road. It is usually cheaper to make minor repairs than wait until you have a bill you cannot afford to pay.
For more information, talk with local auto shops in your area, such as Soundside Automotive.