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One-in-three drivers cannot pay for an unexpected car repair bill

Published: April 12, 2017 12:00 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sixty-four million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected car repair bill without going into debt, according to a new AAA survey. With the average car repair bill between $500 and $600, AAA urges motorists to prevent some costly repairs by maintaining their vehicle, and save at least $50 per month for other unavoidable repairs.

"The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and 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.

Prevent Costly Repairs & Breakdowns:

Repair costs often soar higher for poorly maintained vehicles. A previous AAA survey found one-third of American drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs. This increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdowns. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

"Anticipating your vehicle's needs before problems strike is important," said Nielsen. "While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run."

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Before a breakdown happens, motorists should:

Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule listed in the vehicle owner's manual.

Identify a trusted repair shop. Visit AAA.com/autorepair to find a list of nearly 7,000 independent shops that meet high standards, including technician certifications, financial stability, cleanliness, insurance requirements, and customer satisfaction.

Facing Unexpected Repairs:

Some repairs are unavoidable. If faced with an unexpected repair, drivers should:

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.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at AAA.com.

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