Stress-free car repair tips

A crash course in how to negotiate your vehicle repair

Chances are, at some point in your life, you and your vehicle will find yourself in an unfortunate situation. Whether it’s a car accident or an emergency breakdown, you’ll suddenly need to know how to navigate the wonderful world of car repairs, insurance claims and mechanic’s bills.

It’s a bit of a pain, but it shouldn’t cause major stress. We take a look at what you need to know about getting your car fixed and where to get help when you need it.

Remember, accidents do happen. As frustrating as it may be to suddenly find yourself without a vehicle and dealing with insurance claims, it doesn’t have to cause sleepless nights. Keep a cool head and get help from professionals. Whether it’s your insurance company, the tow truck company or your mechanic – they have all done this plenty of times before.

Prevention is better than cure

Would you know the difference between an everyday rattle in the engine and a more serious noise warning you something worse is on its way? Having the ability to quickly assess your vehicle and know when you need to get to the mechanics is a great skill to have – and it can save you thousands.

Keeping your vehicle well-maintained and up to date with its Warrant of Fitness is one of the simplest things you can do to avoid accidents or breakdowns.

Avoid the breakdown: A few quick checks for your vehicle

Ideally, your car will only need to visit the mechanic for its annual service and Warrant of Fitness checks. So, if you want to keep your motor running, then it’s worth getting into the habit of carrying out a few quick preventative checks.

It only takes a minute or two to lift the bonnet and check a few key vitals. Top priority is a check of oil and coolant levels when the engine is cool and top up when needed. Without oil a car’s engine lacks the lubricant in needs to keep things running smoothly – so it won’t be long before the engine seizes up. A quick check can prevent a major problem. Most newer cars have warning lights to indicate when oil or water levels are low, but it is always worth knowing how to do a manual check because the consequences of driving a car without water or oil are enormous.

Another easy yet essential check is tyre pressure and tread. Well-maintained tyres not only keep you safe on the road, but they also ensure fuel-efficiency.

Check headlights, indicators and brake lights. Ask a friend to help you check your lights are working correctly. It’s a small task but one that could be the difference between having a major accident and staying safe on the road.

When it’s time to call the mechanic

It’s not always possible to prevent the unexpected from happening. When it does you’ll soon be on the hunt for a reliable mechanic. Finding the right mechanic is an important job, so don’t rush it. Once you’ve found a good one you may well form a life-long relationship.

Choosing to work with a professional, qualified, and helpful mechanic will ensure the car repair work goes smoothly and, hopefully, that you will see very little of them! In New Zealand, look for a mechanic who is a member of the Motor Trade Association (MTA).

Whether it’s your precious Prado or your clapped-out Corolla, choosing an MTA-certified mechanic gives you the reassurance you are working with someone who demonstrates the skills, knowledge and experience to meet all industry regulations and operates honestly and fairly.

One of the best ways to find a good mechanic is to ask for referrals from friends.

When it’s time to collect your car there shouldn’t be any heart-stopping surprises on the bill either. A way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to ask the garage to provide an estimate on the work they intend to do before they start. Any decent mechanic will give you a full estimate of their intended work and call you before proceeding with any additional work outside the original estimate.

Cheap car fixes and second-hand parts

Sometimes, your mechanic will suggest installing second-hand or after-market parts. After-market parts are new parts manufactured to be an exact copy of a car manufacturer’s original parts. After-market doesn’t necessarily mean low quality and, in many cases, using an after-market part is the right solution. A good mechanic will help you weigh up the pros and cons of using second-hand parts, which will often depend on the value of the car or your intention for the vehicle. If you need a cheap car repair because the vehicle isn’t worth a lot, second-hand parts may be your best bet.

What happens when your car is being repaired?

Life goes on – will you go on with it? Your car may be off the road for a few days, or it could be considerably longer. Can you get to work, get to school or do your daily tasks without a vehicle? The garage may have a courtesy car available for a day or two, However for longer periods you’ll probably need to make other arrangements like a rental car. This is where things can get expensive and understanding your insurance policy here is important.

The importance of insurance

After any significant incident with your vehicle, the first thing you’ll be doing is having a chat with the insurance company.

Negotiating an insurance claim is one of those ‘soldier through the paperwork’ situations. It’s not unusual to hear that dealing with the insurance company can be just as traumatic as the initial accident!

This extended period of uncertainty can cause anxiety as you find yourself in a ‘will-they, won’t they?’ payout situation.

You can do a few things to mitigate the stress of making an insurance claim on your vehicle. If you’re involved in an accident, keep a cool head and get the full details of the other person involved. This includes their contact details, vehicle registration number and insurer details.

Once your insurance claim is lodged, wait until you have had confirmation from the insurance company before starting car repairs. The insurance company may decide to write off the vehicle and pay you out for the vehicle’s insured cost instead. Whichever way it goes, your insurance company should advise of the options.

Most insurance companies will have a list of preferred mechanics you can take your vehicle to and a maximum amount you have available to spend on repairs.

Help when you need it

There are times when the insurance company won’t cover your car repair. Vehicle insurance doesn’t cover general wear and tear of a vehicle, and the extent to which you are covered after an accident or breakdown will depend on your policy.

Whether it was your fault or someone else’s, the last thing you need after an incident is the worry of how you will pay to fix the car or purchase a new vehicle.

In this case, a car repair loan or personal loan is a quick way to get you back in the driver’s seat. Vehicle loans cover all sorts of vehicles, and the loan is always tailored to suit your borrowing capability. We know it’s hard to live without a car, so we make it a fast loan application process. This means you have pre-approval faster and will be driving away in no time.

As long as nobody is seriously injured, you have the right insurance in place, and a helpful option for a small loan if needed, there’s no reason you can’t get through a car accident or breakdown without being left in a financial mess.

More Information

QuickLoans can help you with all sorts of loans, including personal loans, cash loans, easy loans, and car loans.

Talk to us about applying for a loan on 0800 200 275 or apply online.

This is not legal advice.

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