I love the “10 costly mistakes car owners make” saving-money feature in ShopSmart’s September issue.The mistakes are ones we've probably all made, such as buying the extended warranty on a new car because the dealer’s finance person is so persuasive that it’s the thing to do (guilty!). But I have another costly mistake to add to the list: Tossing the receipts for car repairs.
As I’ve learned the hard way, you might just need them down the line as proof. The back story: Two years ago, my 1998 Nissan Pathfinder—which is now my husband’s train car—conked out because the distributor cap blew. I didn’t keep the receipt—an $800 repair—because I couldn’t think of a reason why I’d need to.
But here it is two years later and the distributor cap blows again. Shouldn’t a new distributor cap last longer than two years? After all, the first one, which came with the car when I bought it new, lasted more than 10 years. I mentioned this to the local mechanic, who has done all the service repairs on the Pathfinder, including the fact that he just installed a new distributor cap two years ago.
Funny, he doesn’t have a record of it in is computer. And without the receipt, which might have bought me some bargaining power, it’s his word against mine. So I’m out another $800, which could even be more than what the car is technically worth, though as a train car, it just makes sense to get the vehicle repaired again instead of getting something new or used.
When I told a good friend this story, she said, “I always keep my car-repair receipts in the glove compartment.” It’s easy to do and just takes a second. Sigh! If only I had thought of that two years ago.