AAA: Many drivers not prepared for repair blindside

May 4th, 2017 | By | Category: Transportation


AAA Car Repair GraphicBOISE — Drivers across the country will soon budget for a family vacation or bucket list adventure, but on their next road trip, great food and attractive accommodations may only be the tip of the financial iceberg, according to a new survey by AAA.

The new survey shows that one out of three U.S. drivers — more than 64 million people — would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt. The findings raise concerns that some motorists underestimate the costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle.

“Many Americans have car and health insurance to guard against the unexpected perils of life,” says AAA Idaho public affairs manager Matthew Conde. “Unfortunately, that kind of forward thinking does not necessarily apply to the essential repair and maintenance of our vehicles.”

A previous AAA survey found that one-third of drivers routinely skip or delay recommended service or repairs.

Industry experts estimate that an average repair cost runs from $500 to $600, and drivers can expect to pay $800 or more for routine maintenance over the course of the year. With that in mind, AAA encourages drivers to create a rainy day fund to address repair needs as they arise.

“Drivers should account for all the necessary costs of operating a vehicle before the unexpected happens,” Conde said.

AAA recommends that drivers routinely verify that their budget adequately covers the following items:

* Monthly car payments

* Insurance premiums

* Fuel costs

* A monthly savings of $50 or more for future vehicle repairs

Where possible, drivers are also encouraged to consider small lifestyle adjustments to further reduce the potential for excessive debt.

Prepare and prevent

“Car manufacturers have a keen understanding of a vehicle’s performance capabilities,” Conde said. “AAA recommends that drivers follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to maximize long-term vehicle safety.”

Motorists are also advised to establish a relationship with a trusted repair shop well before the need for a major repair. A recent AAA survey shows that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to select a trusted repair facility.

If a breakdown happens

“In the event of an unexpected repair issue, drivers need to know that they still have options,” Conde said. “Request a written estimate for the repair, and seek out a second opinion to make sure everything sounds fair and reasonable. In some cases, repair shops may be able to ease some financial stress through available discounts and payment plan options.”

In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

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