Car Repair Costs Explained

Car repairs can be an expensive process, regardless of whether you are getting your vehicle fixed from an accident, or just doing regular maintenance. Many people assume this is only because the workshop is “taking them for a ride”, a thought that has been amplified in pop culture by movies and TV series over the years, but few have explored why costs of repair can be steeper than expected. Let’s break down the process of what it takes to repair a car, and why workshops are required to charge the way they do in order to deliver on their promise to you as a customer.

Why Car Repairs are Important

Have you ever tried to write a test when you were exhausted? Probably at some point during your life, possibly at school. Not the easiest thing in the world, and if you’re lucky, you managed to scrape through the paper. Now, imagine “scraping through” when it comes to your everyday safety, and skipping out on regular car repairs and maintenance, which help to keep you safe on the roads each day.

Perhaps a little more risky than the exam where you weren’t looking after your wellbeing, but the same can be made for if you don’t look after the wellbeing of your car. The more firm and consistent you are with maintenance, including regularly checking fluid levels, lights, brakes, battery and tire pressure, the more likely you’ll catch something before it becomes a major (more expensive) problem.

Why Car Repairs Can Cost So Much

So you’ve picked up on a problem with your car, and you’ve been quoted by the workshop. You take a second to try and figure out why it is as expensive as they are quoting. No, they’re not taking you for a ride, regardless of what your uncle has to say about it. You know this because you’ve already sourced a few comparative quotes but ,still haven’t found huge disparities between the values. This happens more often than you would think. Car repairs are anything but an A-B-C (or 1-2-3) process. Car repair costs are the sum of the required parts (depending on the type of car and whether the part is available locally or needs to be sourced internationally) and a bunch of other factors. This can be a complicated place to start, with authentic parts generally being priced relatively high depending on where the part is coming from. 

Labour is something else to consider. Access to the component needed to fix your problem is one thing, but how long will it take to replace the part? Perhaps a specialist is required to fix a part that was manufactured in Germany, for instance. A good mechanic is not going to throw parts at a problem, but rather go to the root to give you a longer-term solution. Have we talked about the tools a good mechanic needs to do his job? If yours take themselves seriously, they will have needed to charge a markup in order to facilitate the purchasing and maintenance of the correct tools to solve problems. This is on top of the overheads related to renting a large workspace to provide the service in the first place.

How To Go About Saving Money on Car Repairs

Fixed price points and what you’ve just learned about the process aside, there are many ways to go about trying to save some money on future car services:

  1. Invest in a maintenance or service plan. Paying a little bit upfront can save you a lot of money down the line. It’s great to walk out of you 100 000km service having only paid R200.00 to get the chip in your window repaired.
  2. Shop around. Don’t accept the first quote you receive, and as we said, don’t be afraid to ask questions. 
  3. Talk to your car dealership. They may have tips for where to find the correct parts for your problem, and considering you have an existing relationship with them already, may be more willing to point you in the right direction.
  4. Put some money aside each month. Easier said than done, right? Not quite. Skip one takeout a week, and put that money in a jar or a savings account. When your next service comes around, it will take a nice gash out of the total amount.
  5. Longer term maintenance leads to less shorter term hassles. When a problem emerges, as picked up by your routine checks, don’t delay. Take your car to a specialist right away, and get some quotes to have it fixed, or save to have it fixed for a month or two. That way, you don’t leave the problem to turn into a bigger problem, ultimately causing a total breakdown of your vehicle at the most inopportune time (when you’re on your way to Cape Town for the December holiday, for instance).

One such option for doing so and being smart about the health of your car is Safety Brake & Clutch, which provides affordable car repair services, as well as focusing on fitting brakes and clutches for passenger and light commercial vehicles. Talk to them if you have any questions about your next car service or any kind of repairs you may need to have done in the short term.