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One-in-three U.S. drivers can't pay for an unexpected car repair bill

AAA advises drivers to take preventative steps to avoid costly repairs

Published: April 12, 2017 12:00 AM

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, highlighting the importance of taking every precaution possible to keep your car running smoothly. Although an average repair bill can cost a driver up to $600, the price 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.

"Owning and operating a vehicle costs more than $8,500 a year on average, with almost $800 allocated to vehicle maintenance and repair," said Tom Ashley, Executive Vice President, AAA East Central. "It's important to perform routine maintenance and repairs to avoid higher costs to fix your vehicle."

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.

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Check all fluids, such as engine oil, coolant level, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

Test your battery, and check it for corroded terminals or a bulging/cracked case.

Check hoses and belts for leaking and cracks.

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.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

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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.

Visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA's high standards, including technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections, and customer satisfaction.

"With more than 300 Approved Auto Repair Facilities across East Central, your club makes it convenient to find a quality repair facility. Stop by your local branch or call today for a referral," continued Ashley.

AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 81 local offices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Kentucky serving more than 2.7 million members.


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