How much does automotive maintenance really cost?

Posted on 08/26/2014

**I found this article very informative and think it would be a very good read for customers who are debating maintenance and repair costs vs. replacing the car. 

How much does auto maintenance cost over time?


Wow. Is that "check engine" light on again? Didn't you just have that looked at? Come to think of it, your car is approaching that age, isn't it? A bit more grumble in the engine, a touch more sway in the suspension -- you hate to admit it, but every time you take old faithful into the shop, the same thought tickles the back of your brain: Is it time for a replacement?

How much is too much to spend on repairs? It's a question we've all had to ask at one point or another. Perhaps it would help to have a basic sense of what auto maintenance typically costs over time.

The average American household owns 1.9 vehicles and spends around 1.5 percent of its annual income on auto repairs. In 2004, the standard family unit earned $54,453, which means they laid out around $817 annually on repairs, or $408 per vehicle. That number does not include the 3.7 percent spent on gasoline and motor oil ($1,007 per car), or the 2.2 percent ($599 per car) shelled out for insurance [source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics].

Is that a lot? It depends on how you look at it. Like all complex machines, cars and their components have projected operational lifespans. Manufacturers anticipate that some components will fail often and that you'll replace them as part of routine maintenance, while others will last longer. The long-life components will generally be more costly to replace, but even those might not be so bad if you think of the cost spread over the lifetime of your car -- spending $500 to $800 to replace an alternator stings a little less if it's already kept you humming along for 75,000 to 100,000 miles (120,701 to 160,934 kilometers).

If you own your car long enough, you'll have to replace or rebuild an awful lot of it, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad idea. After all, new cars are expensive. They also depreciate an average of 45 percent over the first three years of ownership -- between 48.3 and 79.3 percent over the first five years [sources:Weisbaum and Clarke].


Value of Preventative Auto Maintenance

Spending more than $400 annually on maintenance and repairs may sound like a lot, but it's nothing compared to the added expense of buying a new car, especially if your current car is paid off. In fact, by some estimates, every five years you drive your car after paying it off saves you the monetary equivalent of a new car.

To understand how, let's compare a new car to a paid-off car with standard maintenance. To make it interesting, let's stack the deck in the new car's favor by saying that you drive 24,000 miles (38,624 kilometers) per year, which is double the national average. In five years, that adds up to 120,000 miles (193,121 kilometers) under your wheels, which translates to 35 to 40 oil changes. At $40 apiece, you're looking at $1,400 to $1,600 -- let's call it $1,500. Figure in another $2,200 for miscellaneous service costs (filters, hoses, tire rotations and so on) and another $1,500 for a few major items like a timing belt replacement, new brakes and shock absorbers. Tally that up and you get $5,200, or around $1,040 per year.

Now let's compare that to a new car. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the average price of a new car sold in the United States in 2009 was $28,966, but we'll lowball it and say you found a good deal at $24,000 and financed $20,000 at 7 percent interest for 48 months. That comes out to a monthly payment of just under $479, which tallies to $5,747 per year [source: U.S. Federal Trade Commission].

In other words, for the cost of owning a new car for one year, you could own a paid-off car for five years, drive it into the ground, and still have money left over for tolls.

According to Consumer Reports, the average life expectancy of a new vehicle is around eight years or 150,000 miles [source: Weisbaum]. A well-maintained car also means a safer trip for you and your loved ones. And who can put a price on that?

SOURCE: Gerbis, Nicholas.  "How much does auto maintenance cost over time?"  14 July 2010.  26 August 2014. 


Myths about Independent Repair Shops

Posted on 08/14/2014

Myths about Independent Repair Shops

You've seen these myths portrayed in movies and t.v. shows. You've heard them via radio advertisements from other shops and dealerships. You may have even heard friends/family use these myths as explanations as to why the automotive industry is one of the most distrusted professions around. The myths have always been around and they are well known, but how much is known about the realities that debunk these myths? 

Myth #1 - Independent Repair shops want to rip you off.

Reality - The automotive business has become more about building lasting relationships than just about repairing your vehicle. Most of those affiliated with the automotive business are good, honest and hardworking individuals who follow the golden rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". They have no interest in stealing from their customers or defrauding them and work hard to avoid the repercussions of that type of appearance. A bad reputation travels quickly and damages the integrity that most business owners and staff try to uphold.

Myth #2 - The Dealership can do it better.

Reality - Many assume that a dealership is a better option for service and repairs on their vehicle, simply because they are affiliated with the brand of vehicle. There is also the common misconception that the dealership will always provide better mechanics, better parts, more advanced equipment and better customer service than any independent shop could offer. This theory couldn't be further from the truth. Dealerships are businesses just like any other, many are franchised as well, so the service can vary from great to lackluster depending on location. In an independent shop, just like at the dealership, you will find mechanics who range in skill, experience and dedication. The parts used at an independent shop can come from many different suppliers and are equal to the quality used at the dealership. The staff is committed to doing repairs right the first time and providing the best service possible.

Myth #3 - Having service completed at an Independent Shop will void the Manufacturer's Warranty. 

Reality - Warranties are only voided out if the services are not completed on time according to the vehicle's Factory Scheduled Maintenance guide provided by the manufacturer. You can find this guide in the owner's manual for your vehicle. By law, vehicle manufacturers cannot force consumers to have their vehicles serviced and repaired at the dealership, nor can they threaten to void the warranty if the consumer takes their car to an independent shop to be serviced. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prevents the manufacturer from doing this, you can read more here: 

Myth #4 - Independent Repair shops are dirty, staffed by uneducated and womanizing men. 

Reality - The automotive industry has evolved in the past few decades. Gone are the stereotypical repair shops manned by the depiction of an uneducated mechanic covered head to toe in grease. Television and movies have portrayed the independent shop as a seedy and rundown type of place, filthy, and staffed with men with bad attitudes. In reality, you can expect the same type of professionalism and cleanliness in an independent shop that you would see portrayed in dealerships or any other professional business. The front desk is staffed with educated men and women (gasp!) that act as the liaison and interpreter between you and the mechanic. Waiting rooms are generally clean and offer entertainment and comforts via magazines, television, toys for the little ones, beverages, snacks and sometimes even wifi. The modern day mechanic is far from the earlier depiction as well, they've invested many hours in training, certifications and mentoring and have invested tens of thousands of dollars in high quality tools and equipment in order to master their trade. 

In a nutshell, independent repair shops are a refreshing alternative to dealerships or inexperienced Tire/Muffler/Lube shops. We, at 0500 Mechanics, are a full service repair shop and can do anything from basic oil changes to engine/transmission replacements. We believe in using the highest quality products at the most affordable prices and strive to provide our customers with the best services.