AAA: A third of all drivers can’t afford to get their car fixed

HARTFORD — 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. The findings indicate that many drivers underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a car, according to AAA.

We learned last week that rising gas prices will impact driver behavior. Now, we learn that adding an unexpected repair bill will force many motorists to put it in park.” said Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in greater Hartford. “AAA is encouraging drivers to save money like their mobility depends on it, because it does”.

Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500-$600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses.

According to AAA, the average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year.

To avoid a surprise down the road, AAA says, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost 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.

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • 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. Click here to find a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near yo.

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

  • 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.