Could you handle a $1,000 car repair? Many can't.

Wesley Tingey UnSplash+

Nearly 13% couldn’t pay a $1,000 bill, even using a credit card

What would you do if you were presented with a $1,000 car repair bill? Nearly 13% of consumers say they couldn’t handle it, even with the aid of a credit card.

ConsumerAffairs conducted an online survey of 1,000 drivers through Pollfish, asking about vehicle maintenance habits and confidence in paying for automotive repairs. The survey showed that not only many car owners have no confidence they could get their car repaired, 23% of consumers in six-figure income households said they would have to borrow the money to make the repair.

According to the survey, only 41% of Americans have enough money on hand to pay for a $1,000 car repair out of pocket. That means the majority of people would need to take on debt to deal with a major car repair. 

This problem may get worse because prices of new and used cars are near record highs and interest rates make car payments more expensive. That means people are likely to drive their cars and trucks longer before replacing them.

The automotive research firm analyzed more than 5 million vehicles sold by their original owners to identify which cars are kept the longest. The average length of car ownership for the top 10 models ranges from 9.7 to 11.4 years. That’s 14.9% to 35% longer than the overall average of 8.4 years.  

Regular maintenance saves money in the long run

Regular maintenance like oil changes, fluid flushes, inspections and filter replacements can help avoid a serious car repair bill. Over 95% of survey respondents reported that they perform maintenance on their cars at least once a year, and most of them spent less than $500 on it in the last 12 months.

Besides maintenance, having some type of warranty protection is more important than in the past. These service contracts or “extended warranties,” can vary widely in what they cost and cover, so consumers should do some research before making a purchase.

The ConsumerAffairs research team came up with some helpful facts and figures about extended auto warranties that can shed some light on the subject.

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