How much should you budget for vehicle maintenance?
Hopefully you have a budget, if not it is never too late to start one. Do you put up a certain amount a month for your vehicle expenses? If you own a vehicle, you should know what to expect to spend on your vehicle for preventative maintenance and wear items like tires and brakes. Every vehicle and manufacture are different so this can vary a bit, but hopefully will give you an idea and starting point to budget for your vehicle. Keep in mind this is for preventive maintenance, and wear items, and not any repairs if your vehicle breaks down.
Let us start with your vehicles oil changes. During this time most manufactures also recommend getting your tires rotated. Tires can be expensive, and this helps prevent them from wearing uneven. This also allows the technician the ability to remove the wheels and inspect your brakes and other components. If your vehicle is a 2012 or newer most manufactures recommend getting this service done around every 6 months or 5k miles whichever comes first. You can expect to budget to have this service done at least twice a year unless you drive above average miles. This service can range anywhere from $60-$120 each time. This is dependent on your location, type of vehicle and where you go. If you have a high-end vehicle or diesel this can cost more. You should know how much your oil change cost and how often you get one, the goal here is to start budgeting for it.
Now let us touch on items like other fluid exchanges. Your Transmission is your next most critical component. If this fails it can lead to very costly repairs. This can also vary a lot by vehicle for cost and intervals. Most newer GM vehicles recommend in their owner's manual around 45k miles to get this service performed. Dodge and Ford are around 120k-150k miles. Check specifically for your vehicle. This could range anywhere from 3.5 years to ten years if you just base it on mileage and are driving average mileage. Personally, I would not wait that long to get that fluid changed out and find those recommendations to be exceedingly high. Plan to pay around $180+ when you go in for this service. Find out what your manufacture recommends and call your dealership to get the price. Factor this into your budget.
As of now take your price of your transmission service and the years out and figure out how many oil change tire rotations you will have in that amount of time. If your transmission service will be due around every three years based on the mileage you drive and the manufacture recommendations, add that to the price of all the oil changes. Then divide that amount by 36 months (about 3 years).
Let us say you just purchased a vehicle, and you are supposed to get your transmission service done at 45k miles. Let us say that’s 3.5 years based on the mileage you drive. Let us say you need 7 oil changes in that time span. If your transmission service cost $200 and your oil changes total cost $70 a piece times 7 they will cost around $490. The total of those would be around $690. Divide that $690 by 42 (the number of months before transmission service) you get $16.42. So far that is what you need to put away every month into an account for vehicle expense. Now it is time to look at other expenses.
Some other preventive maintenance to plan for would be filter replacements. All vehicles have an engine air filter that will need replaced periodically. Not only that but also a cabin filter, older vehicles will have an external fuel filter, all diesel vehicles have a fuel filter, also transmission filter which should be replaced during your transmission service and oil filter which should be changed during an oil change. Some vehicles will need these changed anywhere from 2-4 times before your transmission service and cost as much as $100 and upward. Let us factor these into our budget. All filters are especially important to replace, and not doing so can cause issues with your vehicle that will lead to more expensive repairs.
Look at you owner's manual and see how many filters your vehicle needs replaced besides your oil filter and transmission filter (make sure transmission filter is being replaced some flush services do not replace the filter). Now call your service department and get the prices to replace them if you do not know already. Staying with the months on the transmission service and oil changes in step one, now assume you have four filters that need replaced in that period. Let us say that your vehicle needs both the engine air filter and cabin air filter replaced twice by the time of your transmission service. Let us say those filter replacements total $90 a piece each time. That is a total of $360 to add onto the $690 in step one. That is a total of $1,050 and divide that by 42 months (about 3 and a half years) equals $25 a month. Is that it? No.
Your vehicle probable has at least one or two of the following and all three. A front differential, a transferase, and or rear differential. Check on this with your service department. These fluids are usually recommended at the same time as the transmission service, close to it or mid-way before it. These services can range from $100-200 each and higher. Call your service department and find this information out. Let us factor these into or budget.
Let us say you only have one of these and it is serviced the same time as the transmission service. Take the $1050, add a the extra $100 and do the math. The total of your budget goes to $27.38.
There are other preventative maintenance recommendations you should investigate. For example, I personally recommend every GM owner to have a top engine carbon clean performed around every 30k miles. That is something I recommended based on my personal experience as a tech and not the manufacture. These services I would recommend about every 30k miles so that is about 1.5 times needed by a transmission service. Check out what is recommended to take care of your vehicle and prevent worse issues. The carbon induction service can range about $130 to perform. But it should be done 1.5 times by the time the transmission service is done. That will total about $195 on top of the $1150.
I bet you already know. We are at a total of $1345 needed to be spent by the time of the transmission service. Divide that by 42 months (about 3 and a half years) and we are at $32.02.
Let us look at wear items now. Wear items include things like tires, brakes, belts, batteries. These can be expensive together, especially tires. I am not even including if you pick up a nail in the road and need to replace a tire, or things like light bulbs that no extended warranty will cover. Today tire invoices run $600-$1200 per set easy depending on the tire. Batteries can run from $200-$400 easy. Belts easily around $100. Brakes easily $200-$500 per axle (meaning front and rear) I would say it is safe to factor these all in at least once within our 42-month period. Call your service department and get the info for your vehicle.
Take the $1345 we are at, add $800 for tire, $200 for a battery, $100 for a belt, and $300 for brakes. Please get this info from your service department because pricing will vary. We are now at $2745 divided by 42 and that is $65 a month to budget.
Keep in mind the above did not calculate any repairs necessary if your vehicle breaks down out of warranty. You can have quite simple repairs from light bulbs out of warranty that can cost you $100+ easy, to other failed components you are responsible for owning a vehicle. I would say if would be safe to say bare minimum setting aside $100 a month for owning a vehicle should be done. That is not including gas or a payment if you are financing the vehicle.
Knowing how much to budget for your vehicle can keep you living a simple life with less pop up expenses
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