Auto anxiety is becoming an epidemic.

Most people panic at the first sign of a car problem.

It’s super easy to lose your cool when you see the check engine light turn on.

“Oh, geez. You gotta be kidding me. I don’t have the time, money, or energy to deal with this today!”

That’s a natural reaction (but not a beneficial one). Stressing out about the situation will only make it seem worse in your head.

Besides: most car problems are 100% preventable. When you replace auto anxiety with auto awareness, your risk of breaking down or getting stranded will get cut in half.

What’s auto anxiety? It’s a fear of all things related to cars. People are afraid to pop open their hood. That’s not good, because there’s no other way to get familiar with your car. Here are four signs you suffer from auto anxiety (and how to cure yourself forever).

1. You put off oil changes.

Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. There’s not a cheaper or easier way to take care of your car on the planet. Get your oil changes on time!

If your engine runs out of oil, it will have a seizure. This can cause critical damage to its parts. Often, there’s no way to salvage the engine and it has to be replaced, which can cost up to $4,000.

How often should you change your oil? Don’t listen to the guy at your quick lube! It depends on your make and model. Check your owner’s manual for a recommendation that’s relevant to you.

2. You don’t budget for car repair.

Auto repair isn’t any different than rent, because it’s a necessary life expense.

Unlike rent – which is a fixed cost (read: you know exactly how much it costs every month) – the cost of car repair is difficult to predict.

One year, you might not need anything more than oil changes and tire rotations. Cheap enough! The next year, you might need new tires and a brake job. Ouch, that’s expensive!

Open an emergency savings account. Schedule an automatic transfer that occurs when you get paid. Automating the process makes it easier to be consistent. Make sure this account can’t be accessed from your debit card, because that will help you resist the urge to spend it!

3. You haven’t opened your hood in years.

Cars are more high-tech than ever. Modern vehicles only need a small fraction of the maintenance that was necessary in the past.

That’s great news for drivers, because it saves time, money, and trouble. But there is a consequence. Since cars don’t require tune-ups anymore, most drivers never pop open their hood.

This becomes a problem when you break down on the side of the road and don’t have a clue what to do. Open your owner’s manual on a slow day. You don’t have to read it word-for-word. For now, I want you to focus on one thing.

Look for an illustration of your engine. There should be a diagram that labels your car’s essential parts. Note the locations of your fluids. After your engine has cooled down, open your hood and find them. Checking their level once a month (and before road trips) can help you prevent most car problems.

Confused? Don’t worry! There are instructions for how to check each fluid in your owner’s manual. Visual learner? Go to YouTube and search for: “how to check motor oil.” Repeat the same process with coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. If you need more help, find a trusted auto shop near you and talk to the service adviser (PPA). They’ll gladly show you how to check your fluids! 🙂

4. You think auto shops are 100% dishonest.

Are there dishonest mechanics in the world? Sure! But lying isn’t a sin that’s exclusive to the auto industry. There are dishonest doctors, lawyers, politicians, and service professionals of all kinds.

Most auto shops have your best interest at heart. The problem? Some auto professionals aren’t great at explaining why a service recommendation is critical for the safety and longevity of your automobile.

It’s time for your oil change and tire rotation. You’re expecting to pay $50-100 for these two services. The service adviser (PPA) asks you to come to the counter. They say the crew found another problem that will cost $250-500 to fix.

This is where most drivers lose their mind. “What? That’s five times more money than I budgeted for!” Sadly, car care isn’t as simple as changing oil and rotating tires. Maintaining your vehicle is hard work. The annual cost of repair and maintenance is $766.50.

It stinks to be blindsided by an emergency repair. This is why it’s in your best interest to be preventive. There’s a recommended maintenance schedule at the end of your owner’s manual. If you follow those guidelines, you’ll add YEARS to your vehicle’s life. Worth it? Yes!

The best part? You’ll rarely be caught off-guard. Embrace preventive maintenance and you’ll be able to brace yourself for expenses related to your car. You can find estimates for those car repairs at RepairPal or simply ask your auto shop for to guesstimate the cost so you plan ahead.

Congrats! Reading this blog was the first step to curing your auto anxiety. Feel free to share these tips with your friends so they can be car smart like you. 🙂

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