Why You Need a Car Maintenance Budget


Car maintenance is a fact of life. If you own a car, truck, SUV, or any other vehicle with a motor and moving parts, maintenance is in your future. Whether it's a routine oil change, new tires, a new battery, new belts, or anything else, you can expect to find your car in the shop at some point. 

But are you ready for the costs of routine maintenance or unexpected repair? According to AAA, most drivers are not. It's not something they add to their monthly budget, but it should be. AAA recommends setting aside about $50 for repairs and another $50 for maintenance every month. And if your car is older, it's a good idea to save a little more. 

In total, how much should you have saved for maintenance and repair? AAA says review any previous work you may have done on your car and use that as a starting point. Anywhere between $600 and $1,000 is usually considered ideal, but it's always good to have more, just in case. Some components are inexpensive to replace, such as air filters or windshield wipers. Others are much more costly, like the transmission. When it comes to overall vehicle maintenance costs, every make and model will be different. Some cars are known for their reliability, but the cars that are truly the most reliable are those that are well-taken care of. 

The bottom line is that you should never put off the maintenance because doing so can lead to much higher repair costs in the long run. A regular oil change is a good example. Consult with your vehicle's handbook or the manufacturer's guidelines for oil changes and stick to that guidance. And remember, even vehicles that are sitting unused need oil changes. Don't wait too long between oil changes because driving a vehicle with low or no oil can cause major damage to engine components. If the damage persists, you may need to get a new engine. 

If you haven't done so already, start setting aside a small amount every month into a routine vehicle maintenance and repair fund. Then, when it's time for maintenance (or a repair), you'll be ready to take on that cost and keep your car on the road for several more years to come.