Car maintenance budgeting tips

After your home, your car is likely one of the largest investments you have. You depend on your vehicle for safe and convenient transportation. Few believe it to be a disposable commodity, yet the lack of maintenance on many vehicles suggests just that.

With a little knowledge and planning, you can manage your car care needs at a time when it fits conveniently into your schedule and budget. A well-maintained car requires fewer repairs.

The nature of car repairs is a stressful interruption and unexpected expense. Repairs are a restoring of your vehicle to working order, while regularly scheduled maintenance keeps your car safe and dependable. Repairs are more expensive than maintenance because they may require a tow bill or additional parts that are damaged by the domino effect of a mechanical failure.

Some maintenance can be done at little or no cost and includes the added benefit of increasing your fuel economy. Tires will wear longer if they are properly inflated and rotated. The engine air filter is easily replaced. Many newer cars have a cabin air filter that cleans the air you breathe and will diminish the air conditioning and heating capacity if clogged.

If someone in your family has seasonal allergies, it’s a good idea to replace the cabin filter before allergy season. The least expensive and most beneficial maintenance procedure is regular engine oil and filter changes.

Even new cars need maintenance such as tire rotation, oil changes, new wiper blades or filling the windshield washer fluid. A good rule of thumb is to plan for $100 of maintenance for every 10,000 miles on a new car.

After your car reaches 50,000 miles, plan to spend around $520 per year in maintenance. That is the equivalent of substituting one brown bag lunch or skipping two cups of gourmet coffee a week.

As a car nears 100,000 miles there are bigger maintenance items required, such as replacing the timing belt. Plan to spend the average of two or three car payments each year for maintaining your high mileage vehicle.

When you think of vehicle maintenance in these terms, it can be easily managed. Think of maintenance as you would your electric or water bill. If you don’t pay your utilities, your service will be interrupted. Don’t have your car service be interrupted by lack of regular maintenance.