Life’s full of surprises, some of which cost money. A leaky roof, a broken tooth, or an unexpected car repair. AutoNetTV has done some research on how we can budget for proper vehicle care.
We all do our best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What’s hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That’s because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.
Let’s take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing.
You had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it’s a much more expensive proposition to replace it.
Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can’t be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.
So we all benefit from design improvements, but we need to plan for repairs down the road.
There’s a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that you can use to prepare your service and repair budget.
Let’s suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car. It’s now paid for and you’d like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds’ True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle’s data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it’ll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate’s based on where you live, manufacturers’ recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.
Of course these are just estimates – there’s no way to predict what’ll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it’s a good starting point.
The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.
Let’s focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.
So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you’d go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.
Of course, you can’t predict when something will go wrong or what it’ll cost, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.
Some people are afraid of what can go wrong with their older car so they buy a new one. That’s fine if you really want a new car, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you’ll save a lot of money on new car payments and insurance. It just makes good economic sense.
Get with your service advisor and work out a plan for keeping your vehicle on the road.