The last thing any motorist wants is to hear strange sounds coming from below your hood or the “check engine” alert appearing on the dashboard.
It means a visit to the garage, wondering how much the repair will cost and how to pay for it. In fact, a survey by AAA shows that about a third of U.S drivers cannot afford unexpected vehicle repairs.
Therefore, setting a budget for your car maintenance is essential, especially when you’re faced with unexpected repairs.
Below are tips on how to make your car maintenance affordable with proper budgeting.
Prepare in Advance
According to Michael Calkins (Former technical services manager at AAA), “If you take care of your car well with regular maintenance checks, you’re less likely to experience unexpected vehicle failure.”
You avoid future expensive repairs from breakdowns. Remember, even with a warranty; you must dig into your pockets to pay for expenses such as tire and oil changes.
From your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you can establish all that’s needed to maintain your vehicle and how frequently you must do it. If you don’t have one, check for a digital copy on your manufacturer’s website.
It’s the best guide on how much you should budget for your car maintenance. Unfortunately, many don’t care to read their manuals, and as Calkin puts it, it’s “the least-read book in the Western world.”
The most common car maintenance practice is changing the oil filter. You should change your oil after every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, for most modern cars. Something else you need to do regularly is budget for tire pressure.
While most new models will warn you when the pressure is 25% low, AAA still feels that’s too late, as Calkin puts it. Check your car tire pressure at least monthly, and fill accordingly.
Your car transmission fluid is also vital as it’s what allows your car to shift gears. Therefore, work towards flushing the fluid yearly. Doing so will keep your transmission in top condition, preventing further costly issues from hitting your car.
For manual cars, you can flush after every 50,000 to 80,000 km. Autos can wait until 100,000 km.
How Much to Budget for Repairs and Maintenance?
According to AAA, a typical unexpected repair costs $500 to $600. Further, they recommend you save $50 per month for unexpected repairs, totaling $600 annually. Although you still need maintenance funds, which may vary depending on your car’s make and model, the recommendation is to save an equal amount.
Therefore, $100 per month for both maintenance and repairs is what you need to budget. And if you go a year without spending the money, you can use it to service your vehicle.
You can also save money on auto-service by having a mechanic, dealership, or service center you trust. There, they’ll do great work on your car, and at a fair price. AAA-approved auto-repair shops are also great auto-service providers you can trust.
Finally, save on maintenance costs by doing some work yourself. However, only do what you’re sure you can. You can watch videos for guidance. Minor maintenance and repairs such as replacing wipers, inflating tires, and topping off fluids are things you can DIY.