The best way to avoid an emergency is to be prepared for an emergency. If you can set aside a little bit of money each month in case of any emergency (be it medical, automotive, or accident), then you will be able to manage any unexpected situations. However, if the time has come and you haven’t planned ahead, there are still some ways that you can get money.
One of the most common mistakes that is made during emergencies is to lose your cool. If you lose your cool, you might forget to use common sense. Use your common sense to shop around. Even if you need a tow right now, consider calling a few places for quotes before having them send someone over. The ten minutes that it takes you to make some comparisons might save you twenty dollars or more. That makes the use of time well worth your money. Remember, you will be late anyway, so take your time in getting there.
When the tow truck driver arrives, be sure that you know where you want to have your car towed. You should also do some comparison shopping for this. You can even call a friend and have them make some of your phone calls for you. If you don’t know what is wrong with your car, have it taken to a mechanic or dealership that you trust. They will tell you what’s wrong, and you then be able to decide how much (it might be all) of the work you want to have done.Review your Options
When you buy a car, you often get a warranty. You might be signed up for AAA or CAA. Your insurance company might cover some of the repairs needed for your car. Before you go about paying for all of the repairs out of pocket, find out what repairs are covered. Then get approval from the institution that will help you pay. It is easier to get them to pay upfront than to get them to reimburse you.
Consider keeping a membership for CAA or AAA. This means that you will have free towing if you are ever in an accident or if you ever have a breakdown. There is an annual fee, so you would have to weigh the pros and cons of membership. I, personally, find that I have gotten a lot back from my membership, including a peace of mind knowing that I am covered while I travel.
What NOT to do
If you need to pay for your emergency repairs, do not get a pay day loan. Pay day loans have exorbitant interest rates and will make it hard for you to get back on top of your debt.
Get the best interest
Find out where you will be able to get the best interest rates for the money that you will have to spend. If you take out a loan, then you will be able to pay it back in small pieces throughout the year, rather than taking an upfront loss. This also works if you cannot pay for your car.
If you put the car repairs on your credit card, remember that you will probably be paying a higher interest rate than if you got a car repair loan, or if you went to a bank or credit union. Check the interest rates that varying places offer, including at the dealership if you are having your car repaired there.
Ding and Dent Repair: Paintless Dent Repair
Ding and dent repair is called PDR, short for Paintless Dent Repair. There are many companies that perform this service: Ding Doctor, Ding King, No Dents, Dent Wizard…the list goes on. Some are better then others, although ultimately it’s up to the skill of the PDR technician. Prices are similar.
How is it done?
Most PDR techniques are non-intrusive. The PDR technicians use specially designed tools and gadgets to slip behind the damaged panels and manipulate and massage the damaged metal back to its original form.
Does it work?
Actually, it’s incredible! It works so well that in the majority of cases the dings and dents are completely removed. They’re invisible, gone, can’t-believe-your-eyes fixed.
I saw a soccer-ball-sized dent removed from the rear fender of a $120,000 car. The dent also had a large crease, which makes repairs even harder. After thirty minutes there was no visible detection that a dent was ever there. The repair cost the client $400. Traditional body shop estimates were hovering at $2700.
- Very low cost compared to traditional body shops
- Same day repairs–even while-you-wait service
- No paint work, sanding, or traditional bodywork required
- Original paint remains–helps retain vehicles looks and value
- Body panels remain intact–maintaining structural integrity
- PDR does not address scratches or paint chips that are often associated with dings (Many PDR companies will address chips and scratches, but it’s not PDR technology)
- Many areas of body panels are not accessible, so PDR is not an option
- Plastic bumpers or any plastic components can’t be fixed with PDR techniques. Since the bumper is the most common area to get damaged, this is a significant downside of PDR technology.
- Some damage can occur to door panels, paint, interiors, window glass and hardware, although damage of any kind is rare.
Do you need PDR insurance?
Should you get your dings fixed using PDR techniques?
Let me explain…
Insuring against dings and dents does not make economic sense. Ding repairs average around $50 per ding. Some dings cost $99 to $149 to repair. Two to four dings can run $100 to $450, depending on the size of the dent. Insurance at this level is just not necessary. Moreover, it’s a gamble you will lose.
To benefit from a $300, two-year plan, your vehicle would need to sustain multiple “PDR repairable” dings or dents. Despite your coverage, you may not even notice the dings, making a claim impossible. Also, despite the amazing PDR techniques, they can’t fix everything, especially the chips and scratches that so frequently accompany a ding–should dings even occur.
Yes, get your dings fixed with PDR (if they’re bothering you), but don’t buy an insurance plan.
Protection plan economics 101
An article by Terence O’Hara in the Washington Post is a wonderful piece on the insanity of protection plans, and is applicable here. He writes:
The decision to buy an extended warranty…defies the recommendations of economists, consumer advocates and product quality experts, who all warn that the plans rarely benefit consumers and are nearly always a waste of money.
‘[Extended warranties and protection plans] make no rational sense,’ Harvard economist David Cutler said. ‘The implied probability [of an issue] has to be substantially greater than the risk that you can’t afford to fix it or replace it. If you’re buying a $400 item, for the overwhelming number of consumers that level of spending is not a risk you need to insure under any circumstances.’
…extended warranties play upon a basic human trait to avoid loss, even if it means sacrificing a possible future gain. In this case, the gain is all the other things of value that a consumer could buy with the money that was spent on a warranty
Fix your dings
Fix your dings and dents (if you want) as they come–maybe every spring. Fixing dings keeps your car looking pristine, and increases its value. But don’t bother with a protection plan. Save your money.
Hold off on that paint job
Quality paintless dent repair is often a great substitute for those considering full paint jobs. Whenever possible, it’s best to keep the original paint. Good PDR combined with a professional detail can restore vehicles to show room condition for less than $500.
Go with the best
Since 1983 Dent Wizard has been pioneering PDR technology. Their PDR technicians undergo extensive and ongoing training. The rates are reasonable and the quality is excellent. Always request a master PDR technician, as there are various levels of abilities.
Check with local dealers
Dealerships in your area may offer Dent Wizard. Your vehicle does not have to be of the same make as the dealership. In other words, you can bring your Chevy to a Ford dealer for PDR work.
Do it yourself paintless dent repair is easy.
No it ‘s not. It requires training, skill, and experience. There are many who practice PDR techniques who crack or flake the paint, or who create ripples in the metal.
The PDR products sold on TV do the same thing.
No! Not even close. There’s no good substitute for the art of PDR.
Scratch and dent repair are the same thing.
No. A ding is a small dent, which can often be repaired via paintless dent repair procedures. A scratch is an actual break in the surface of the clear coat or paint, requiring traditional body shop techniques, or touch up paint.
It’s easy to learn how to repair dents on cars.
Maybe for some, but it’s a skill that few master. Dent Wizard offers a great training program. The management and staff are top notch.
What kind of car do you drive? The wear and tear you put on a tire is proportionate to the weight and power of the car you drive. Some types of cars have types of tires specifically designed for them.
Where do you live? If you’re located in a more rural area and do a lot of off-road driving, you might need tires that have more traction and resilience. Similar needs can arise if you live in an area that has lots of ice on the roads – you’ll need tires designed for that environment, or that can easily handle snow chains. For that matter, plenty of tires are designed to work best on dry pavement, perfect if you’re in the city or suburbia.
How often are you willing to maintain your tires? Some types of tires might need frequent rotation or replacing – which is difficult for people who are more interested in getting in and driving away.
There are many other features to look for in tires as well. First, if you’re looking at older tires, try not to buy anything more than six years old. Second, check your owner’s manual to see what tire size is recommended for your automobile. Third, when you’re looking at the environment where you live, as mentioned above, you might want to check with a dealer to see what type of tread is typically used for that area.
It’s also a good idea to have some idea of the standards for federal tire quality grading. All new tires have a paper with their federal grading molded into their sidewall. This system is not the same as a safety rating, but it does provide a means of comparison between different brands of tires.
The three categories within this system are treadwear, traction and temperature resistance. “Treadwear” uses a 100-point scale to determine how long a tire would last while driven on the same road by the same driver for a period of time. “Traction” uses grades of “A,” “B” and “C” to determine how well the tire would be able to stop on a wet road. Finally, “Temperature Resistance” also employs an A-B-C scale to determine how well a tire might respond to overheating from being driven at a high speed.
For more information about determining which type of tire is right for you, there are special guides available regarding tire safety and maintenance. A Consumer Guide to Uniform Tire Quality Grading, is available free from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This guide lists the grades of all tires and will help you compare various brands. To obtain a copy, write to NHTSA, General Services Division (NAD-51), 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20590.
Look after the engine too. Avoid opening the bonnet unnecessarily so that it doesn’t get exposed to too much dust. Check the oil and water to ensure that it remains topped up for the efficient functioning of the vehicle. If you suspect that there is something wrong with the engine don’t be tempted to repair it yourself. Rather let a qualified mechanic check it and repair it for you.
Take care of the wheels and tyres. Make sure that you have the tyres inflated regularly to prevent it from running flat. This also optimises your driving if the tyres are sufficiently inflated. If you notice that he tread is low, then change the tyres. Don’t drive with them for long as this could lead to the car not being able to come to a stop as quickly as it would with new tyres.
Check the brakes often especially when you notice something unusual. If you hear the brakes squeak or whistle, or feel that the brake pedal is spongy, then get it checked. There could be a problem with the brake elements such as the brake discs. Rather be safe than sorry when it comes to this car part.
In general, you should take your car for a service every year or when the set mileage is reached for your particular vehicle. During a service all the parts of your car will be checked to ensure that it is roadworthy and safe to drive. Keep a record of the car’s service so that you build up a good history. This will serve you well when you want to sell the car. It will increase the value of your car, especially if you take good care of it.
In the same way, take careful note of the behavior of your car. Remember both the changes in the car’s behavior, as well as any associated noise that happens at the same time. For example, the simple problem of a flat tire has a distinct flapping noise, and is also accompanied by a very definite steering problem. Not all problems have both components. One of the first signs of a CV joint problem is a simple clicking noise as the car makes a sharp right hand or left-hand turn. However, many car problems have both a behavioral and sound component to them, so listen carefully and feel for any differences in the running of the car. (If a CV joint problem is left unattended, there can be a significant performance difference when one wheel seizes up and no longer turns, but we hope that the car is not left to get into that condition!)
In addition to this, try to describe precisely when and where the changes to your car happen. For example, the CV joint problem above only happens when the car is taking a turn. Furthermore, pinning down the location of the clicking noise will indicate which CV joint is having a problem, whether it’s on the right hand side or the left-hand side. It is important for the mechanic to know that some problems only occur after the car has been driving for 10 minutes, or occur just as the car starts and then goes away, or other time dependent behavior.
Try to be as descriptive as possible when talking about the problem, even if it seems a little foolish. The old joke about a lady talking to her mechanic, and describing a sound like a bowling ball rolling around in the trunk, only to find that it was actually a bowling ball rolling around the trunk. However precise description is of great benefit. If the noise sounds like marbles in a cardboard box, or a bunch of safety pins dropping on the floor, say so. One of these phrases may cause an “aha” moment for the mechanic and make the diagnosis problem really easy.
A list of common descriptive sounds that might be applied to a car are: clicking, squealing, growling, whistling, thumping, humming, chirping, rattling, or knocking. Smells that might be reported to your mechanic are: burning oil, burning plastic, a putrid smell, or other strong or slight smell. Finally, if anything seems unusually hot to the touch that should also be reported to the mechanic. (Do NOT touch metal components on a running or just turned off car with your hand! They can easily be hot enough to burn you.)
The first and most important tip I can give you is to seek recommendations from people that you know before taking your car in for repair. Word of mouth is a very powerful advertising medium and it works both ways, most people will take pleasure in telling you who to avoid if they have had a bad experience with someone in particular. Ask around your workplace, talk to family members, even your neighbors may be able to shed some light on who will look after your car well and not charge an arm and a leg for it.
Be wary of auto repair workshops that advertise cheap oil changes with a safety check of your vehicle thrown in for free. Sure there is honest mechanics out there that are genuinely concerned for your safety and don’t want to see you driving an unsafe car but there is also some out there that use this tactic to first get you to bring your car to them and then do their best to find thousands of dollars worth of work that just has to be done before you drive the car from the shop. Think about it, in business do you think you would be wise offering something for free if there wasn’t anything in it for you? Even if it is a vehicle safety check that takes half an hour at the most to complete.
The third tip I can give you is to be aware of what parts are being used on your vehicle and the markup that comes with those parts. Many workshops will insist on using genuine parts only, that is parts from the manufacturer of your particular vehicle. Unless your car is still under the factory warrantee there is no real reason not to use aftermarket parts when they are available. The aftermarket part is usually a lot cheaper and more often than not the warrantee on these parts equals or exceeds the genuine part warrantee anyway.
Spare part markup is another area where we can stand to save ourselves some money. When a mechanic buys a part there is a recommended retail price that goes with that part. However that is only a recommended price and if the dishonest mechanic can get away with charging more you can bet your life they will. Before agreeing to having the repair carried out ask your mechanic what markup they charge on their parts and if they are honest they will have no trouble answering your question.
So there you have just a few ways that we can help protect ourselves from car repair scams. I wish I could say that all workshop owners are honest but I can tell you hardly a day went by that we weren’t listening to customers complaining about the price and the service they received from certain mechanics. It is a shame that these people don’t realize that they are shooting themselves in the foot when ripping people off as the word soon gets around and as I said word of mouth is a very powerful advertising tool, both in a positive way and a negative way.