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Florida 5th-most expensive state to own car as repair prices, wait times to increase

'Prices are going up, we see that in our prices with all different vendor,' Andrew Brown says
Posted at 7:10 PM, Sep 15, 2023

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The UAW strike impacts are expected to touch South Florida. raising prices from the consumer to the auto body and repair shops.

Financial website GOBankingRates.com already ranked Florida the fifth most expensive state to own a car, factoring in insurance, gas and general upkeep.

"It's just ridiculous. One word," David Lurry of Port St. Lucie said. "Definitely in auto insurance, it's increased substantially."

"One car, my van is $400 a month, my truck is $600 a month, insurance is about $375 for both of them," said Kerry Neufeld, also of Port St. Lucie. "Then gas, the truck’s $100."

Kerry Neufeld of Port St. Lucie.jpg
Kerry Neufeld of Port St. Lucie explains how much it costs to maintain all of his cars.

"Everything. Everything has increased," added Linda Doser.

Unfortunately, to top off those costs, there will likely come spikes in the cost of repairs for some car owners who have Ford, General Motor, Chrysler or Jeeps.

"Yes, it’s hard, very hard for people," said Andrew Brown, owner of Four Points Auto in Port St. Lucie.

Brown himself has seen skyrocketing costs increase.

Andrew Brown owner of Four Points Auto in Port St. Lucie
Four Points Auto owner Andrew Brown explains how he is already seeing price hikes.

"Prices are going up, we see that in our prices with all different vendors," he said. "I see a little more every day."

Now, he said with a lack of workers, comes a shortage of parts, which will drive up costs. He said he's seen the red flags before.

"The problem we're going to have is when we need a part from the dealer," Brown said. "I’ll give you an example, when COVID hit, I was trying to find an engine computer. Nobody had one, we had to wait, the customer had to wait, they can’t run the car, and that’s a big problem."

Now, Brown has a tough choice. Either he passes on the cost to his customers or absorbs it himself. For him, it's a lose-lose.

“It’s very hard to tell you what to do at that point," Brown said. "It’s tough, it’s tough.”

Linda Doser Port St Lucie
Linda Doser (right) of Port St. Lucie shares that despite cost of owning and maintaining a car in Florida, there's no place she'd rather be.

Still Brown makes his pennies count, and his customers do, too.

"Yeah, it really makes a difference," he said.

"Florida's still a great place to live, I wouldn’t live anywhere else," added Doser.

While there's not much Brown said you can do about the rising cost of repairs, the American Automobile Association said there are ways you can help costs if you're planning on buying a car.

Below are some tips from AAA:

  • Know all the expenses associated with ownership to negotiate the best deal.
  • Start early! Due to limited inventory, consumers may have fewer choices regarding a specific vehicle model. They may have to wait for delivery or even pre-order the vehicle of their choice.
  • Before discussing finance rates with the car dealer, obtain pre-approval from their financial institution (e.g., Bank, Credit Union, AAA, etc.). By getting pre-approval, they will have a threshold of the best lending rate they’ll pay. Buyers can use their pre-approval to negotiate if the dealer offers a higher rate.
  • Create a budget and factor in the different elements of ownership before purchase – not just monthly payments. Other factors to consider when making the budget include insurance, gas, routine maintenance, etc.
  • Typically, three negotiations occur when purchasing a vehicle – the cost of the car, the finance rate, and the trade-in value. Keep each transaction/negotiation separate from the other.
  • The Purchase Cost: Check multiple websites, including the manufacturer, to understand what the vehicle sells for in your area. You could save hundreds of dollars by driving outside of your immediate location and expanding your search area.
  • The Finance Rate: The biggest factor in obtaining a favorable interest rate is one’s credit score. Higher credit scores will result in lower interest rates. Obtain pre-approval for an auto loan, determine the highest interest rate you might be charged, and then ask the dealer if they can offer a lower interest rate. If they can, you save money.
  • The Trade-In Value: While evaluating your trade-in, you must determine the vehicle’s condition. Most used vehicles fall into the “good” or “fair” category, which is the most common. To determine the value, check various websites to learn the average trade-in value. *Remember, selling a vehicle independently on your own may increase the value amount you may receive for the vehicle. However, there are safety aspects to consider, proper paperwork, bill of sale, etc. Trading the vehicle can often be easier and hassle-free.