Maintaining your car is a cost that you should be prepared for. When your vehicle requires maintenance or repairs, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you or a total shock to your finances. The ideal position to be in is to have savings set aside to pay for the maintenance of your car. When you inevitably have to take care of a maintenance task or get something repaired, you’ll have the money available and you’ll be able to do it right away. The hard part is knowing just what you should be budgeting for and how much money you should be putting aside.
There are various things that you can plan for because they’re pretty much expected. There are also unexpected expenses that can arise due to your car experiencing more wear and tear than you plan for or perhaps things like getting into an accident or having your car vandalized. Fortunately, you can plan for even unexpected costs.
Cleaning Your Car
If there’s one thing that you know you definitely need to do, it’s keeping your car clean. It needs washing both inside and out on a regular basis. Some say that you should wash your car every two weeks, although many people perhaps don’t do it so often. After washing, you can also wax your car to help protect it. Washing your car isn’t just about ensuring it looks good, but also protecting it from deterioration and decay caused by a buildup of dirt, salt, and debris. You also need to be sure to clean out the inside, vacuuming and wiping down where possible.
The cost of washing your car will depend on how you do it. It’s cheaper to do it yourself, of course, and the supplies that you buy will likely last a long time. But if you prefer the convenience of using a car wash to do it, make sure you plan for the cost. A standard car wash could be around $15 a pop, while a fancy valet service could be more.
Regular Servicing and Tune-Ups
You should expect to have your car serviced to help keep it in good condition. Follow the recommended schedule in your car’s warranty, which is likely based on mileage. And if you don’t want to invalidate the warranty, get it serviced at a location that’s approved by the manufacturer. A yearly check of your car is a great idea if you want to make sure that everything looks good and tune up any potential problems. While you might not find this essential (although it’s required in many places), this annual check of your car will pick up on any problems early. It will ensure your car is roadworthy and safe to drive, and it will give you a chance to fix problems before they develop too far.
Oil, Fluid, and Filter Changes
One of the basic things that you’ll need to do is change oil and other fluids, as well as filters for various parts of your car. Changing the oil and filter on your car every 4,000 to 5,000 miles or so will help to keep it well-oiled and running smoothly. If you leave it too long, the oil will get dirty and affect your car’s performance. The cost of an engine oil change is around $27-$87, so it’s one thing that you can affordably plan and save for. Of course, you also need to remember to top up your oil now and then too. Check the level regularly and top it up when necessary.
Rotating Your Tyres
Taking care of your car’s tyres is a must. You need to ensure they have enough tread, the right pressure, and that they’re not damaged. Rotating your car’s tyres is important to ensure they wear down evenly. By rotating their positioning, you ensure that one tyre isn’t wearing down faster than the others. It’s also useful to align your tyres now and then. Rotating your tyres can really vary in cost, starting at around $25 and possibly reaching $100 more. Alignment can cost around $75 to $200, and will often include a free rotation at the same time. It’s also important to remember to check the tread on your tyres regularly, as well as the pressure to ensure they’re inflated adequately.
Eventually, you might need to replace your car’s tyres completely. If the tread is very worn down, they’re not safe. You can check the depth of the tread of your tyres with a coin to see just how deep they are. If the tread is barely there, it’s definitely time for new tyres. Take a look at websites like ozzytyres.com.au, where you can find a range of tyres to choose from. Brand new tyres should last for around 20,000 miles, so they’re a good investment. As well as improving the safety of your car, they also improve the performance, helping to give your vehicle better fuel efficiency.
Changing Brake Pads
Another car maintenance must that will keep your vehicle safe is maintaining your brake pads. Brake pads wear down over time, so they eventually need to be replaced to ensure they’re working properly. How long they last will depend on how you use your car and how far you travel, but around the 25,000-mile mark might be when you need to change your brake pads. There are signs to look out for that indicate a change is needed, such as noises or strange sensations when you apply the brakes. Expect to pay between $200 and $600 to change both brake pads.
Timing Belt Replacement
The timing belt keeps everything in your car running smoothly. It needs to be replaced eventually, but fortunately, it’s not too often on a new car. You can expect to need to change it around every 100,000 miles on a newer car, although it could be less than that. Some people might need to change the timing belt on the vehicle as frequently as every 40,000 miles. If you do it as soon as you can, costs start at around $500. But if you put it off, it could end up costing a lot more, possibly into the thousands.
Spark Plug Replacement
Spark plugs help to get your car started, making them an essential component of your engine. How often you should replace them is usually something that you can find out by looking in your owner’s manual. Manufacturers recommend different timeframes for replacing spark plugs, so that’s often the best way to tell. But if you’re having ignition problems, it could be because your spark plugs have blown and you need to repair the damage. Replacing them usually costs around $40 to $150, although the spark plugs themselves don’t cost much.
The battery in a car only lasts so long. However, how long it will last isn’t dependent on how far you travel. Car batteries deteriorate even when the car is sitting idle, so it’s essential to change your battery on schedule. Generally, a battery will last around 3 to 5 years before it gives up the ghost. But you might find that it needs changing before that too.
Don’t forget that you can’t time your car maintenance exactly. Some things will need to be done before you expect them to. You could also find you need to pay for unexpected repairs if you get into an accident, you scratch your car, or you even find that your car has been damaged by someone else. Having some extra money set aside for these expenses is smart.