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Automotive Repairs: Pay Now or Pay Later

paying auto mechanic

There’s an old adage that says, “You can play now and pay later, or you can pay now and play later. Either way, you have to pay.” As uninspiring as that sounds, it turns out to be true, especially when it comes to repairing your vehicle.

Now more than ever, people are looking to save money, which means they aren’t turning out in big numbers to buy a brand new car. Instead, they’re holding on to older vehicles in order to stash extra cash in the bank—a smart move. And, the best way to get more miles out of your favorite 4-wheel friend is to keep up on maintenance now, not later.

Jordan Catalano of explains, “I've owned many a hooptie in my day, and nothing is more obnoxious than putting off a minor repair only to have it snowball into a serious financial disaster, like that time when my faulty thermostat turned into a blown radiator. I still have some of that repair bill on a credit card somewhere.”

Taking Mr. Catalano’s example to heart, we’ve collected important info on how paying for repairs now means you can play a lot more, later.

Transmission Parts

Whether you’re driving a manual or an automatic, a vehicle’s transmission parts can give out over time. Rather than wait until you’re stranded, check and replace automatic and manual transmission parts at the first sign of transmission trouble.

*** Essential Transmission Maintenance ***

Engine Parts

If your vehicle is starting to misfire or backfire, you may have a problem with a flat camshaft—and, you’re probably thoroughly annoyed with your (insert expletive) car, truck or SUV. Or, if you’re hearing a low-pitched knocking noise, there may be issues with your crankshaft bearings. While repairing these two parts is in-and-of-itself expensive, it’s probably cheaper than replacing your entire engine a few months down the road.

Spark plugs, ignition locks and other ignition parts, on the other hand, are quite easy and inexpensive to replace. A new spark plug only costs a few bucks, and you may even be able to replace them yourself (with a little automotive know-how). New spark plugs maintain engine efficiency and performance, while old, worn-out spark plugs can cause hard starts and other issues (though, in newer vehicles, your warning light will go on before this happens).

*** Troubleshooting Ignition Problems ***

Similarly, a bad fuel pump or oil pump can cause hard starts and eventually keep your vehicle from running at all. Luckily, a problem with these pumps can also be diagnosed early, and should also trigger the check engine light in newer vehicles.


While probably the easiest to notice, light maintenance is often neglected. Whether it be tail lights, parking lights, fog lights, headlights or more, clear, bright lights are a must-have for safety. But, lights are also susceptible to real damage: they burn out, get scratched or yellow over time. While one bad light won’t lead to an engine meltdown, it may cost you an expensive fender-bender or pricey fix-it ticket.

At the same time, upgrading your lights are a great way to make an old vehicle feel new again. With today’s styles and LED technology, there are many lighting options to transform your ride.

*** Updating your Automotive Lighting ***


Gauges are not only important; they give your dash its official presence. Fuel gauges, odometers, speedometers and tachometers keep you in touch with your vehicle’s vitals, so when one isn’t reading right, it’s best to check it out fast. Often, a bad read indicates a problem with your gauge’s sensor, which is usually inexpensive enough to replace.

Or, if you want to take an older vehicle to the next level, you may be more interested in revamping your entire gauge cluster. Today, there’s no shortage of aftermarket gauge clusters. From throw-back hotrod styles to up-to-the-minute LED-lit modern designs, you can upgrade your dash for a like-new feel.

*** Automotive Gauge Problems and Upgrades ***


Brake problems are instantly noticeable—and easily avoided with routine maintenance. If your brakes are weak or squeaking, it can be as dangerous as it is annoying. Luckily, replacing brake rotors, brake pads and other brake parts is fairly simple. And, the few bucks up front saves you from a load of problems and unsafe driving later.

*** Replacing Brake Rotors and Pads ***

Beat the Heat (or the Cold) with Temperature Control Parts

Whether it’s to keep your engine running at the optimal heat or to keep you comfortable inside, fixing your temperature control parts (like your sunroof, heater parts, fan blades and temperature gauge) can cut down on later damage, plus save you from hitting up every drive-thru for a 32oz ice-cold cola.

The most important thing to keep in mind when driving an older vehicle is that all auto parts were not meant to run 100,000 miles. And, swapping out faulty car parts and truck parts with new replacement parts early means you save dough later. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your automotive tools, nuts & bolts (or get your local auto repair guy to do it) and run your vehicle straight on through to the next economic upswing.