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Experts Say Putting Off Car Repairs Can Cause Bigger Problems Later

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They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that goes double for your car, as there are numerous benefits for routine maintenance. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

Putting off a car repair or routine maintenance can lead to big problems down the road.

Say you notice a little anti-freeze on your driveway. Best case scenario: you may need a new hose. But if you let it go, you may need a whole new engine block.

Granted, things are going to break but it doesn't have to break the bank. Experts say replacing parts before they go can be a lot cheaper than repairing the damage after something fails. All of the magic numbers can be found inside your owner's manual. It's your car's bible and you should treat it like gospel.

"If it says to have your timing belt done at 60,000 miles, then you really seriously need to have your timing belt done at 60,000 miles," says Shawn Sinclair, an automotive engineer with Consumer Reports. "There is a reason why they put that in there. They have done the research and they know that at 60,000 miles, this engine needs a timing belt.

When it comes to who does the repairs - the dealership or an independent mechanic - Robert Sinclair of AAA says if your car is under warranty, definitely go back to the dealership. However once your warranty is expired, the price may drive you elsewhere.

"Dealerships are generally more expensive, sometimes a lot more expensive," he says.

His advice: Find an independent technician you can trust by using AAA's Approved Auto Repair Network or simply asking around.

For real savings, though, you might want to roll up your sleeves. There are many simple repairs, like replacing a headlight bulb or air filter, that even a novice can tackle, provided you have a few tools, a little mechanical aptitude and access to the internet.

"There are step by step videos on there or photo montages on how to do these simple items and that can go a long way to saving you money," Sinclair says.

Finally, if fear of costly car repairs has you considering buying an extended warranty, Sinclair says steer clear. Her advice is to take the money you would have spent on the warranty and put it in a savings account that's just for your car.

"Then you know if something does go wrong, then you have that money to repair that car," she says. "But if it doesn't, you've got some money set aside for maybe a nice vacation."

Perhaps even a road trip.

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