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How To Budget For Car Maintenance

How To Budget For Car Maintenance

When a pleasant unexpected event occurs, a birthday surprise or an unexpected gift for example, most people will be naturally pleasantly surprised. It’s the unpleasant surprises in life that we don’t care for. A grinding noise from the brakes of our car might be one such, especially when funds are low.

We all know that regular professional car servicing is essential for safer motoring but it’s easy to neglect this side of car ownership when money is tight. Perhaps we should plan ahead just like we do when the other regular bills are due? That way there need not be any nasty surprises.

How Much Was Spent On The Car Last Year?

As a matter of course we should all keep any automotive bills and certificates that relate to our cars. A full service history is important when the time comes to move the car on; buyers expect it these days. Of course, it depends on the age and condition of the vehicle but, by and large, last year’s bills can be a good guide to future costs and we can budget accordingly. We roughly know how much fuel we use routinely and the consumables needed over time so why make a monthly budget for car maintenance too?

Expect The Unexpected

Again, age and condition should be considered. A car that’s still under warranty shouldn’t be an issue, but isn’t it always the case that as soon as the warranty expires, the problems start. It’s one of life’s mysteries so factor in unexpected repairs or renewals.

Given that we know approximately how much the local garage will charge for the annual service and MOT why not cost in an amount every month to allow for nasty surprises? Your car servicing garage will possibly give advisories at MOT test time. An additional amount in the monthly budget will mean that any contingency can be acted on immediately and not put off until later.

Making a visual inspection of the car every week is a thought. Check the tyres for tread; are they going to need changing soon? What do the fluid levels look like? Does the vehicle drive straight and true without any horrible noises? Forewarned, as always, is forearmed. The car’s handbook will reveal a lists of tasks that need to be done at certain intervals or mileage levels. It pays to refer to these and make specific checks where suggested.

How You Drive Affects Maintenance

Try to build up a basic picture of your driving habits. Consider for example the road conditions. If the daily commute entails driving on poor, potholed roads then the extra punishment on the suspension might mean maintenance earlier. Lots of heavy braking or aggressive driving means faster wear and tear so consider your driving style. After that it’s time to consider costs accordingly.

Service Plans

Instead of paying for car maintenance as and when required, a service plan, which many car servicing garages now offer, fixes the price of certain elements of servicing over a set period. Some plans require a lump sum but most will offer monthly payments which can set according to the age and type of car. It may also be possible to factor an additional amount, you know, just in case. Ask your garage if they provide this option.

And Finally

Yes, it’s true that for many people times are difficult and it is easy to say make a budget but it can be harder to do. Consider though how much value there is standing out on the driveway and the financial investment in it. Surely, if only for safety’s sake, the car should be one of the priorities?

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