How to Create a Solid Car Maintenance Budget
Life can throw a curveball once in a while. Or, a nail in the road. If you don’t have a solid car maintenance budget, you could be scrounging for cash to pay for unexpected, expensive repairs or even just to keep up with regular car maintenance.
Did you know? One-third of drivers in the United States cannot afford an unexpected car repair, according to a recent survey by AAA. In addition to practicing preventative car maintenance, this statistic emphasizes the importance of creating an adequate car maintenance budget.
Risks of Not Having a Car Maintenance Budget
Neglecting to allocate part of your overall budget to car expenses most likely indicates that you’re not keeping up with basic maintenance. This could lead to more serious mechanical issues that could have been avoided with regular upkeep and performing preventative car maintenance.
If you wait until your car trouble is unavoidable, you could be facing a hefty bill. To get the most mileage out of your vehicle and car maintenance budget, it’s important to have regularly-scheduled maintenance. These regular check-ups for your vehicle require a car maintenance budget as a buffer for unexpected, expensive repairs.
Steps to Creating a Car Maintenance Budget
1. Gather receipts and maintenance records.
Formulating a budget starts with studying your car maintenance history and tracking spending habits. The most accurate budget will be based on previous years’ expenses, so you can track what has recently been replaced or fixed on your car and what might need to be serviced in the future.
Collect all of your car maintenance records from at least the last year. Maintenance includes repairs, oil changes, tires, and other necessary work, but does not include car payments, insurance, car washes, or fuel. Add all of the maintenance costs together to get the total amount you spent on car maintenance over the last year. Divide this number by 12 to get your average monthly car maintenance expense. This number will determine how much money you should set aside each month for your car maintenance budget.
2. Assess your current financial situation and car maintenance demands.
Be realistic about your take-home salary and your car’s needs. Adjust your budget to account for your car’s current condition. Depending on various factors, you might need to increase your car maintenance budget from what you spent during the previous year. Plan ahead with your budget for the different types of maintenance to expect over the lifespan of your car.
3. Plan for preventative maintenance and unexpected repairs.
Keep your car maintenance savings separate from your other accounts and only use this money for what it was intended for. It is important to add the budgeted amount every month so that when your car needs maintenance you won’t find yourself scrambling for cash. Although it can be tempting, don’t withdraw from your car maintenance savings. Ensuring you save enough each month for preventative maintenance will help you get the most mileage out of your car.
How Much Money Should Be in a Car Maintenance Budget?
Depending on the age, make, and model of your car, maintenance costs will vary. It’s important to remember that maintenance costs for a car are periodic expenses, as your car will get serviced every few months. Set aside $75 to $100 per month per vehicle, specifically for car maintenance (this does not include gas, insurance, etc.). However, the amount you save each month is dependent on a few factors including:
- Make and model: Luxury vehicles and SUVs might require more maintenance than other cars.
- Car age: Older cars will require more attention to keep running as parts wear out.
- Condition: With regular maintenance, a vehicle is less likely to have issues.
- Driving behavior: The more miles on a vehicle and aggressive driving behavior increases the frequency at which a car requires maintenance.
Before purchasing a car, research the maintenance costs of prospective makes and models. You should plan out how often your vehicle would require this service and figure out if you can afford the upkeep. Make sure you put more money than you initially thought your vehicle would require into an emergency maintenance fund in case of an unexpected repair.
Service Regularly, Save More
Detailed budgeting for annual auto repair and maintenance will give you peace of mind and reduce the likelihood of major expenditures in the future. With a little financial discipline, you can have a solid car maintenance budget and plan for regular auto check-ups with an experienced mechanic.
At Virginia Tire & Auto, we want you to get the most mileage out of your money when it comes to maintenance and repair costs. Virginia Tire & Auto’s general service technicians make car maintenance easy and efficient. Stop in one of our 17 locations to talk with one of our professional mechanics about your specific car maintenance budget requirements or schedule an appointment to get your vehicle serviced.