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The Family Minivan: 4 Money-Saving Steps to Fix Up Your Vehicle

The minivan is a very useful and versatile vehicle, from taking the kids to soccer practice to picking up supplies at the lumber yard the minivan does it all. But routine trips and errands in your minivan can lead to many minor problems. Dents, chips in the glass and stains on the carpet are common issues. Rather than having these fixed by the mechanic, you can take care of these minor problems yourself and save a bundle in the process.

Using a DIY Chip Repair Kit

MinivanA chip in the windshield or window can quickly grow into a big crack if it is not fixed. You may be able to avoid a costly trip to the auto glass repair shop by fixing a chip yourself. To do this, clean the chip with rubbing alcohol. Use a glass chip repair kit from an auto supply store. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The chip repair should be done on a dry, sunny day and in a place with plenty of ventilation, such as your driveway or apartment parking lot. The patching resin needs about one hour to fully dry. Scrape off any leftover resin with a razor blade. Clean the glass with rubbing alcohol.

Setting Up Auto Body Repairs

If your minivan has more than a few minor dents and dings, it is a good idea to take it in for auto body repairs. An auto body repair shop, can properly evaluate complicated body damage. Fixing auto body damage reduces the potential for rust and corrosion to develop. Corrosion is difficult to fix one it starts eating away at the metal of your minivan. You may be able to save some cash on auto body repairs by calling around and asking for estimates. There are also apps to price out the fees for different types of auto body repairs. Check for discounts, such as if you are a senior citizen or a veteran. You might also be able to find a discount coupon or get a discount for paying in cash rather than with credit, which costs the shop a few percentages in fees.

Fixing Small Dings and Dents

Everyday errands can result in dents in the doors and body of your minivan. Rolling shopping carts, impacts from someone’s car door and a run-in with the curb are common causes of minor dings and dents. You may be able to even out those dents yourself with a hairdryer. To do this, make sure the dent is at least three inches in width or diameter and ensure that there are no chips in the paint. Gather a hair dryer, dry ice, heavy-duty work gloves, aluminum foil, and a full can of compressed air. You should hold the hair dryer about six inches away from the dent and apply heat to the dented area. Apply a layer of aluminum foil over the heated dent. Put on the work gloves. Rub the dry ice over the dent or spray the compressed air over the dent. Wait for a few minutes, then remove the aluminum foil. You may hear a pop when the dent resolves.

If the paint is chipped you can prevent rust by getting small touch-up paint applicators at an auto repair store like Pepboys,  O’Reilly’s, or Advance Auto Parts. Often the paint will even be an exact match for the Original Manufacturer’s colo (just look for your specific make, model and color).

Detailing your Minivan

You do not have to pay hundreds of dollars for someone to detail your family minivan. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean all of the carpeting and the crevices of the seats. Apply a sealant or protectant to the surfaces of the dashboard and doors. Clean the interior and exterior of the windows. Use a carpet shampooer to remove stains from the carpets and floor mats. If you don’t have a shop-vac self-service car washes often have them available for a small fee. Speaking of self-service car washes, they are a great way to get your car clean the key is to have two people and work fast. One person operates the brush while the other operates the wand… switch frequently between the two so you get enough foam for the brush without having it running all the time. If you work quickly enough you can get the car washed for half the price.

Doing Bigger Repairs

If you have a few tools and a computer you can learn to do many repairs yourself that would be expensive to have done. For instance, changing brake pads. According to Auto Service Costs the average cost for a local mechanic to replace 4 brake pads is $300. But if you go to one of the aforementioned car parts stores you can pick up all 4 pads for your 2010 Chrysler Town and Country for about $50. Then simply go to YouTube and watch a video or two on how to replace them and you should have no trouble. Boom you just saved $250! Even if you find that the rotors have deep grooves in them you can take them to the autoparts store and get them “turned” for about $20 each. Rather than paying the mechanic another $100 each to do it. Other easy repairs include replacing headlight/tail-light bulbs, Windshield wipers, Battery, various knobs, changing the oil and filter, air filter, fuses, and adding fluids.

Doing your own fixes on your minivan can be a satisfying experience. Each of these projects only takes a few hours of your time, and you could do them all on a nice weekend day. Spending six to eight hours making all of these repairs could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars at the auto repair shop.

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