Smart Budgeting for First-Time Car Owners: Tips for Maintaining Your Vehicle
Image by Skica911 from Pixabay
Image Alt: A person checking car engine oil
Getting a car is one of those memorable milestones in life. But after the celebration comes the maintenance and repair costs. It doesn’t always have to be a tiresome, financially demanding process.
When you lay out your maintenance plan as soon as you get your new car into the driveway, you’ll not sweat it. So, here’s what you can do to budget for your maintenance costs.
Best Car Maintenance Tips for First-time Car Owners
There are affordable maintenance costs, such as inspecting your fuel cap or replacing it. However, other tasks cost hundreds to thousands for parts and labour. For example, replacing the ignition coil or the catalytic converter can dent your wallet. Therefore, if you take budgeting lightly, you may get into debt to maintain your new car. Here are a few precautionary measures.
Add Car Maintenance to your Expenses
As a first-time car owner, there are various ways to know how much maintenance can cost. For example, if it’s a used car, check the service history from the previous owner. If it isn’t available, you can estimate how much it’ll cost for maintenance and repair. Remember, the cost depends on the present state of your car.
Set up a Separate Savings Account for Car Maintenance
Maintenance and repair costs change. You might be spending less now because it’s a new car, but the amount will double fast. There are also non-negotiable annual costs like insurance.
When you open a separate account, you see how much you’ve saved. Additionally, if you don’t spend as much as you’d budgeted for maintenance in a month, the money remains in that account to cater for repairs in the future. It’ll not go to other expenses, as would be the case if you only had one bank account. Such an account also earns interest, which can benefit you later.
Set up an Emergency Fund
Adding car maintenance to your monthly budget means you’ll not take a loan or spend money meant for other expenses. But what if the money isn’t enough for the present car trouble? That’s why you should set up an emergency fund. It doesn’t have to be for car maintenance funds only. No! You can save for all expenses of running your home for at least three months. Plus, you can automate the deposit from your regular account to your emergency fund.
If you’re already in debt, clear it first, then start an emergency fund. During that time, have alternative ways to fund repairs that are more expensive than your monthly budget. One option is to get a payday advance loan. It’s fast, as you only need to show your pay stubs or other proof of income. You can apply online. Thus, you get cash to repair your car fast.
Improve Your Driving Skills
Do you know your driving skills can cost you more on car maintenance and repair? For example, your selector fork may wear out prematurely when you rest your hand on the gearstick. Hitting bumps and potholes can also cause tyre lumps. Further, your car might have many warning lights on the dashboard that you ignore because you don’t know what they mean.
Here’s what you can do to improve your driving. Read your car’s manual, and enrol in a driving school for a refresher course if it’s been a while since you took the class.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
Image by Skica911 from Pixabay
Image Alt: A person hand-checking a dipstick
Scheduled car maintenance takes care of issues before they get out of control. Therefore, don’t skip a trip to your mechanic. Some regular maintenance tasks are changing the oil, cleaning the air filter, and checking tire pressure.
In addition to checking various parts, maintenance also means replacing faulty and worn-out parts. It’s more thorough and expensive when going for the annual check. Also, find a licensed repair shop. That way, you’ll be sure to get genuine parts. Such a repair shop will also maintain a service history that can get you an attractive resale price when a prospective buyer finds that you keep up-to-date records.
Find a Local Repair Shop
It might be more expensive at the dealership than at a local shop. That’s because the local shop has lower labour costs than large dealerships.
You might have some money to maintain and repair your car for a few months, but you need a long-term budgeting plan. It’s an expense, so it should be in your monthly budget. Also, you need a separate account to assess your saving progress regularly.
Since this asset will also need maintenance when you don’t have a regular income, add it to the expenses in your emergency fund. Save up to six months of emergency car repair funds.