For most people, and particularly single moms, the one thing that most of us would have a very difficult time doing without is our car. So when it starts to stall, or overheat, or make a funny sound when you make a turn, it can be a real problem. And chances are, that if you can’t afford a new car, with the associated car payment and higher insurance rates, it’s probably not the best time for a hefty car repair bill. Fortunately, there are probably a few places that will help with that unexpected bill.
As the saying goes, knowledge is a powerful thing. Sometimes, having a good idea of what is wrong with the car you have, can save you a lot of money. Unfortunately, to some of the more unscrupulous car repair specialists, a woman dropping off a car alone represents a big payday. Learning what is wrong with your car now, as well as understanding how you can save money on future maintenance and repairs makes a lot of sense. In order to accomplish that, you might want to a few websites geared towards that goal. Some websites that may be of interest include:
Once you find out what’s wrong with your car, you’ll also be able to figure out whether it’s something you’ll be able to fix. Obviously, nobody is suggesting that a novice at car repair remove and replace an engine in her driveway, but you might be able to replace spark plugs or a car battery if you had the correct information on how to do so. And of course, that’s a lot easier to do if you have the tools. AutoZone has a full range of loaner tools available for free, as well as many different booklets to further explain how to fix your car. To find an AutoZone near you, go to http://www.autozone.com/autozone/homePage.jsp.
Getting Free Car Repairs
I will freely admit that I am NOT at all mechanically inclined. I had many people tell me that it would take only a little while to switch out my car battery, the one and only time that I did it, and it actually took three hours, along with a few tears. So, I am not the gal that you’ll see sweating away in my garage doing car repairs. Unfortunately, I’m also not the one to buy a new car every three years, so I’ve been on a city bus for months at a time. Free car repairs were something I knew nothing about for years, so I either went into debt paying for car repairs or went without a car until I could afford it. When you’re on a bus with two kids and fourteen bags of groceries every Saturday, you learn to hate the bus.
You may be able to find grants for free car repairs from the same office that administers food stamps, Medicaid and TANF in your town. Even if they don’t actually say that the grant is to be used for free car repairs, states that offer it will usually make it available in the event of a major event that could effect employment. Obviously, lack of transportation is a huge factor when it comes to whether or not you can get to work on time. You may be asked to show a copy of your valid driver’s license, as well as current insurance and registration in your name.
Another option you may want to consider is a church in your area. A lot of churches, especially bigger ones, have outreach programs that pair qualified mechanics with people who need free car repairs. A church near me even makes some use of vehicles that are not going to be repaired, by removing as many of the usable parts as possible, for future use in other cars. That means that you can’t expect to get a brand new part, but it will probably be free, which might be better then new.
If you are not sure how to find someone in your area to help with free car repairs, this website may be your new best friend: http://autocareministry.com/Forms/Auto-Care_Application.asp. Their goal, according to their website, is to help single mothers and widows with necessary car repairs. They are in the St. Louis, Missouri area but have associations with churches in other areas that provide free car repairs.
Finally, 211 is an excellent resource as well. In case you didn’t know, 211 is a listing that provides community resources (for free) to interested individuals. They literally have listings for almost everything you need help with, but it is quite common for organizations, especially small or new ones, to not be registered. It’s also not unusual for incorrect contact information, including current availability, to be listed with 211. You should always call the place itself to make sure that they are able to offer assistance at this time and to verify when they are open, as well as whether or not you need an appointment to be seen.
That first phone call is also going to be the best time to see what you have to do in order to qualify, as well as what documentation will be required in order to get approved quickly. You can dial 211 from most telephones, including pay phones, and you can also access their services at http://www.211.org/, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can typically talk to someone around the clock as well, but one exception might be if you were trying to speak to someone about food stamps or related services. Those representatives are usually there during normal business hours.
Free car repairs are not as easily found as some of the other assistance programs, but they do exist, and if you are persistent, there is an excellent possibility that you can get what you need. If you live in a small town or rural area, it may be harder to find. If that’s the case, or if your car is so badly damaged that fixing it is no longer a good idea, you might want to look into the grants that exist to help you get a new (to you) car. I’ll be putting up an entry about that soon, so please check back.