AAA: One Third of U.S. Drivers Can’t Pay Unexpected Repair Bill

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April 5, 2017—According to a recent AAA survey, 64 million U.S. drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA suggests that drivers save at least $50 per month for unforeseen expenses, and to find a trusted repair facility.

“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

A prior AAA survey discovered that one-third of U.S. drivers delay or skip recommended service or repairs, which increases the chances for required repairs, and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to a roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

AAA suggests that if motorists are faced with an unexpected repair that they get a written estimate, consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis, and negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic, asking if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

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