If your transmission blew tomorrow, could you afford to fix it?

If you're like tens of millions of U.S. drivers, or a third of motorists, you wouldn't be able to cover the expenses of an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, according to a survey from AAA released Tuesday.

Dmitry Kalinovsky, ThinkStock

The average repair bill runs between $500 and $600, the organization said, and owning and operating a vehicle costs more than $8,500 per year.

"Car repairs are one of those always unexpected, regularly-occurring expenses," said Cathleen Lewis with the AAA Northeast office in Florham Park. "We know it's going to happen. Our car is eventually going to break down because we use it all the time, but it's always at the most inconvenient times and it's always when we can least afford it."

That's why AAA is urging drivers to tuck away at least $50 a month, meant to specifically assist with unforeseen vehicle expenses.

Lewis noted drivers are keeping their vehicles longer than they had in the past, and routine maintenance — such as oil changes and tire rotations — can go a long way in preventing significant damage down the road.

"If you're properly maintaining your vehicle, you'll know about repairs before they're needed and you can plan for them," she said.

If not, she said, driving on New Jersey's treacherous roads during pothole season can cause a blowout as opposed to a minor bump.

In a AAA survey from October 2015, it was uncovered that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended vehicle service or repairs. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists, according to a news release.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.