How Much to Budget for Car Maintenance per Month
Budgeting | Saving Money

How Much to Budget for Car Maintenance Per Month

After spending a hefty amount of money on purchasing a vehicle, it only makes sense to maintain it. However, there are many other reasons why you should take vehicle maintenance seriously.

Why Is Car Maintenance Important?

To avoid unexpected costs

Regular car maintenance allows you to avoid last-minute costly repairs. Emergency repairs are not only a hassle but may also end up costing you an arm and a leg.

Moreover, they are often a result of neglecting car maintenance for a long time as minor problems further exacerbate into major repairs. Regular car maintenance also allows you to see if there are signs of wear and tear, leaks and cracks etc.

By paying attention to minor problems such as these, you can save yourself from the horrors of a major replacement later on.

On the whole, apart from saving costs, you also contribute to the engine’s longevity by maintaining your car on a regular basis.

To extend the vehicle’s life

Getting a new car is similar to adopting a pet. It comes with a new set of responsibilities to ensure it stays efficiently functional for an extended period.

Keeping a car maintained is no rocket science and does not require an owner’s manual. All you have to do is follow a schedule and keep a maintenance budget aside every month.

The last thing you would want is coming across a sudden breakdown in the middle of nowhere. By following a strict maintenance schedule, you can avoid costly repairs of the transmission and cooling system or any other components. Moreover, you can also reduce engine wear and tear to extend the life of your car.

To ensure safety

Imagine going on a long journey and getting stranded on a quiet road late at night. When there’s danger, you may regret not checking the tires or transmission fluid of your vehicle.

To ensure your car is in a condition to support a long journey, it is important you get all basic services done beforehand. Therefore, to make your journey comfortable, don’t forget to check the tires and inspect the engine before leaving

To lower the fuel cost

Your car’s periodic expenses also consist of fuel costs that keep rising amidst no maintenance. By taking a sufficient amount of care of your vehicle regularly, you can avoid wasting fuel.

On the other hand, if you ignore any of the key repairs, you may witness your gas mileage going down, which means your tank will get empty more often.

As a result, you will also have to fill it up more often, wasting your money and time. Hence, the only way to avoid coming across unexpected expenses is by keeping up with your car’s maintenance schedule.

To keep the value of your car high

If you’re a car owner who wants to sell your vehicle in the upcoming months or years, keeping up with routine maintenance is as crucial as it can get. Your car maintenance records have a huge impact on its overall value.

It can see a serious decline if it’s not in the same condition as when you first bought it. This is why you must set aside a car maintenance budget every month to increase or at least maintain your car’s value.

What Services Are Involved in a Routine Vehicle Maintenance?

Routine vehicle maintenance

Some routine inspections include checking the following items:

  • Tires: Checking the tire rotations and air pressure are minor services you can get done at any gas station. Not only are these procedures quick, but they also go a long way in protecting your car from wear and tear and increasing mileage.
  • Fluids: Most systems in your car need fluids to function properly. There is usually no danger of evaporation since fluids are in enclosed chambers. However, if you neglect maintenance for a long time, their levels may deplete. When parts wear due to negligence, you will ultimately have to replace them.
  • Oil: After tires and fluids, one of the things you can’t neglect is oil changes. According to auto experts, you must change your vehicle’s oil after 5000 miles if you wish to keep your engine in an ideal condition.

In the end, remember that regular maintenance costs are always lower than emergency repairs.

When Do You Need a Car Service?

While maintenance is a matter of a few checks here and there, a complete car service involves the inspection of over 50 components. Some of them include:

  • Air filter replacement and oil change
  • Checking operations such as steering
  • Inspecting the brake pads
  • Inspecting all four wheels
  • Checking coolant and fluid levels
  • Checking if the engine is tuned
  • Assessing the battery
  • Inspecting the cabin air filter
  • Checking suspension

How frequently your car needs service depends on many factors such as:

  • How old the car is
  • The car model
  • The type of roads it is used on (underdeveloped ones or motorway etc)
  • The miles it has covered

You can always check your car’s manual to see manufacturer recommendations on how often you should get your car serviced.

However, remember that you cannot do it yourself since servicing a car requires a certain set of skills and tools most car owners do not possess. You must trust the experience and skills of a professional when it comes to using the right equipment correctly.

How to Set Aside a Budget for Car Maintenance?

Car maintenance fund

Creating a budget for car maintenance requires some analysis of your spending habits. The best way to do that is by analyzing how much you spent in the previous year on other expenses, particularly the yearwhen you did not have a car. This way, you will know how much to set aside for basic maintenance every month.

Put all the records together

Assemble your car maintenance records for the past year. You may include your credit card statements, receipts of maintenance, checkbook, etc. – based on your payment method for most things.

Since maintenance does not involve auto insurance or car payments, add together the cost of services over the last 12 months, such as tire inspection and oil changes.

Once you have the total cost, divide it by 12 to get an average amount for a month and set aside that car maintenance budget. For example, if your expenditure last year was $1000, it means you need around $84 every month for vehicle maintenance.

Adjust your budget

Your car’s current condition matters a lot when it comes to adjusting your monthly budget. For example, if you have an older car, it may need more repairing, which means you will have to allocate a higher budget per month.

If your budget per month last year was $80, you may have to increase it to $130 for the upcoming months to avoid getting caught short.

Get a car maintenance fund

The only way to take your vehicle maintenance and repairs seriously is keeping your maintenance expenses separate from the rest of your expenses. Once you save money for a specific purpose, you’re more likely to use it when the time comes.

You can keep your maintenance budget separately in a savings account every month so you have enough funds to finance repairs when the need arises. However, avoid borrowing from your vehicle maintenance fund and try to put a budgeted amount aside each month to cover your maintenance costs.

How Much Budget Should You Allocate for Car Maintenance Every Month?

Set aside a car maintenance budget

According to experts, the average cost of maintenance is at least $100 per month. It also depends on your car’s condition but your maintenance budget every month should be around the given numbers. You can later adjust it according to the current condition of your car.

Again, the budget for car maintenance that you put aside every month should be fixed. Even if there are variations later due to any unexpected repairs or additional services, it’s easier to manage. Regular upkeep will help reduce your monthly spending over time but the more you save for it, the less you’re burdened later.

Car Maintenance Breakdown

If you have recently purchased a car, you must look into the following factors before 10,000 kilometers to avoid expensive repairs later down the line.

Change oil and filter

Change car oil

Even among modern cars, if there’s a lack of lubrication, the cylinders, pistons, and gears will soon seize. Moreover, dirty oil can cause severe damage to your vehicle.

Don’t wait longer than required to change it frequently because even your oil filter can perform well to a certain extent. Getting a new filter and fresh oil after every 3,278 miles will ensure a healthy engine and a smoother ride.

Consistent tire rotation

Tire rotation is all about moving your tires from one position to the next. Generally speaking, the pattern involves moving front tires to the rear and vice versa.

You must stay consistent and try doing it after every 3,106 miles to make sure your tires are evenly worn. You can also align them from time to time, but it’s not as important as rotation. You may have to pay anywhere between $30 to $100 for rotating tires.

Wash wash and wash

Car wash services

It goes without saying, wash your car daily. This is the lowest form of maintenance you can provide to your vehicle and if you can’t do it yourself, pay a professional service to do it.

No one likes seeing dirt and salt accumulated on your car’s surface. In the case rust starts spreading like wildfire, you may not be able to do much to stop it. Therefore, pay attention to your car’s outer appearance at all times.

A standard car wash from a professional service does not cost much but if you wish to avail the full service, consider sparing some extra bucks.

After 6,213 miles, maintenance and repair costs get higher. Here are the ones you can incur.

Changing the engine air filter

Vehicle engine bay

The air filter of your engine prevents dirt and dust from getting in, making it easier for you to breathe. Even though it’s only responsible for a small part of your car maintenance expenses, you should keep a close eye on it if you live in a dusty environment.

Changing the cabin air filter

Cabin air filters are also similar to engine air filters, except that they keep dust out of the interior, making your driving experience safe and enjoyable. You can replace it after every 12,427 miles, just like the engine air filter.

Changing the fuel filter

As the name suggests, the fuel filter is responsible for catching rust and dirt particles in your fuel tank. If it gets clogged, your car will be deprived of a healthy fuel stream running through the pipes.

However, the process of changing fuel filters is not the same as air filters. Typically, it depends on the vehicle model, the amount of distance you’re covering, and the fuel type you’re using.

Hence, it is recommended to have a mechanic check it from time to time. Their expertise will allow you to get a somewhat accurate estimate of the filter’s status.

What Is Wheel Alignment, and How Important Is It?

Wheel alignment

Every vehicle needs proper wheel alignment to improve the performance and longevity of the tires. Alignment refers to when all four wheels are aligned in the same position. If you wish to spread the cost out, you can choose to get the back and front pair aligned separately.

All in all, car maintenance is a crucial aspect of every vehicle that you cannot ignore.

Whether you have an old or a new car, maintaining it is the only way to improve its value, longevity, and performance. By keeping a car maintenance fund separate every month, you can save yourself from the hassle of costly and unexpected repairs.