Your car is an essential part of daily life for getting to work and school or running errands. The cost of owning one is more than the monthly payment and the insurance, however. Routine maintenance and unusual repairs can eat into your budget. Fortunately, a number of mechanic shops offer some free services to keep your car running smoothly while your wallet stays in your pocket.
AAA, your local garage, and most major auto repair chains provide diagnostic testing and other services for free because they want you to become a regular customer. Be friendly and be loyal, and sometimes mechanics will throw in additional free perks for regular customers. Do you want to do some repairs on your own but don’t have all the equipment? Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and other repair shops will loan you the right tools for a deposit that’s fully refunded when you bring the tools back.
If you qualify for free or low-cost car repairs for work or medical reasons, there are a number of nonprofit organizations that can help you find the services you need to keep your car running. Do a web search for organizations in your area and see if you meet their program requirements.
It’s generally more cost effective to keep an older car for as long as possible rather than buying a new one every few years. Before you take your next drive, think about how your car performed the last time you used it. If you think you need anything checked out, take a look at this list to see if you can get the work done for free. Save money, and drive safely!
1. Diagnostic Tests
From brakes and tires to belts and hoses, many repair centers offer free tests and evaluations to find out what the problem is. Firestone has a comprehensive list of courtesy checks they perform and Pep Boys provides a number of free tests as well.
2. Battery Test
Many places will test your car battery for free, including Pep Boys, Firestone, and Advance Auto Parts. AutoZone not only tests the battery but will recharge it for free. AAA also offers free testing and charging at some of their facilities. If you need a new battery many places will install it for free if you purchase the battery there. Advance Auto Parts will give you a gift card when you give them your old battery for recycling.
3. Windshield Wiper Installation
Just about any place that sells windshield wipers will install them for you as well. A few places will install them for you even if you didn’t buy them there. In order to see clearly on a rainy or snowy day, be sure to keep your windshield wiper blades fresh.
4. Check Engine Light
If your check engine light turns on you really shouldn’t ignore it. A number of car repair centers will perform the tests for free to find out what’s going on. You risk nothing by getting it checked out as soon as possible, and you may even save money if it’s fix that’s easy to make the earlier it’s caught. Holding off can cause more damage to your car that may result in a larger repair bill.
5. Tire Repair and Rotation
Keep your tires in excellent working condition for ultimate safety while you’re driving. Pep Boys performs tire inspections and sometimes offers the tire repair and rotation for free. Firestone will check the condition of your tires, including tire pressure and tread depth. Discount Tire will repair a flat for free (in some locations) no matter where you bought the tires from and if you buy from them, the mounting and balancing are free.
6. Routine Maintenance
If you’ve purchased or leased a new car there’s a good chance your first few service check-ups are covered. Check your warranty or lease agreement to see what the dealership will give you for free. Toyota, BMW, and Subaru all have comprehensive free maintenance schedules. Repairs at the dealership can be expensive but if they are offering free services, take advantage of it.
7. Emissions Test
Laws vary by state and by county, but some emissions inspection locations will waive the fee for a second emissions test if you failed the first one and had the repairs done at their shop. Emissions repairs can be costly and time consuming so know your local policies on testing and fees in order to save some money. Regular maintenance keeps your exhaust system running clean and helps avoid repairs at testing time.