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How to Budget for Car Repairs

How to Budget for Car Repairs

Car repairs can break a carefully planned out budget, that’s for sure. Such repairs are usually unexpected, and hit right when you think you’re doing OK financially. Then, bam, your savings are depleted and you’re starting from scratch again. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time to come up with a budget for car repairs that will provide a cushion in the event of emergency.

When you factor future car repairs and maintenance into the budget for your household, you’re lessening the chance that you get sidelined by an expensive visit to the mechanic. Repairs can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, which can put you over the edge when trying to balance other bills and expenses. Many people budget out their car insurance, but fail to save for an unexpected car repair. You know it’s going to happen – it’s just a matter of time. Be prepared with a budget for vehicle repairs.

Create an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is important if you own a car. You can set up a separate emergency fund specifically for car repairs, or you can create one big one that encompasses any household expenses that may come up. Set up a separate bank account, and call it Emergency Fund. Even if you get it started with just $100, this is a step in the right direction.

Add to that Line Item Every Month

Just like you would add money to grocery, mortgage and clothing categories, it’s important to add one specifically for car repairs. Choose the amount you’re comfortable with paying out of each paycheck, and stick to it. Then you’re better able to tackle any unexpected car repairs that come your way. The most common vehicle repair is ignition coil and spark plug replacement ($400), followed by catalytic converter replacement ($1400).

Why Auto Maintenance is Important

When you follow the recommended manufacturer’s schedule of maintenance, you’ll save yourself a world of grief later. Regular tune ups and checks are important, too, which allows mechanics to spot problems before they get out of control. This, in turn, saves a lot of money on your end. Unexpected major breakdowns can put your vehicle out of commission, which adds to your stress trying to get rides to and from work or school. If you have to rent a car to get you through, this can add exponentially to the cost.

Tips to Reduce Car Repair Costs

Car repairs, of course, are inevitable no matter what you do. But there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of them happening, and when they do happen, those costs can be kept low. Check out these tips.

1.     Take a DIY Approach

While many repair issues should be handled by a professional, there are some small issues that you can address yourself if you’re handy. Watch videos online, ask friends, do the research. If you can do some of those small tasks yourself, you can save on the labor.

2.     Change the Oil as Directed

Fresh oil is essential to keep your engine running optimally. Make sure you get an oil change every 5,000 to 6,000 miles, and check the levels in between. This small expense of under $50 can ensure your car is happy and healthy.

3.     Check Tire Pressure and Tread

Have your tires rotated at the same time you get your oil change so you can ensure an even tread wear. This will save you from having to replace your tires prematurely, plus it will ensure your safety on the road.

4.     Clean the Air Filter

The air filter keeps pollutants from getting into your car through the vents. Change your air filters at least once a year. You’ll get peace of mind knowing you’re breathing in clean air, plus your AC system will work much more efficiently.

5.     Get Regular Tune Ups

Getting your car inspected by a licensed mechanic is a wise idea. They can check all the systems of your vehicle, identify any potential problems, and generally ensure your car is in good working order. An honest mechanic will tell you in order or priority which issues should be taken care of first and which ones can wait. This will help you budget for those repairs if you know they’re coming down the road.

Contact Rick and Ray’s Auto Plaza

If you need auto repair services you can trust, contact us in Fort Worth at 817-335-2073. From air conditioning and electrical service to steering and suspension, we do it all to give you peace of mind.