Buying a car is just the first part of the financial equation. Going forward, you have to think about the maintenance cost. Without proper planning, you might find that monthly maintenance costs combined with car payments have become too much of a burden. 

So before you even buy a car, sit down and try to figure out how much you should be spending monthly on repairs and maintenance. If you already own a car, it is time to make a smart plan and stick to it. Planning ensures that you are always ready for any car emergency and could actually help you lower maintenance cost. 
What’s Your Car Brand? 
Maintenance costs vary widely among different car brands and models. For instance, Toyota cars tend to cost less in maintenance compared to other brands like BMW and Volvo. Your brand can give you a rough idea of how cheap or expensive maintenance will be. 
Other factors to consider when crunching the costs include year (the older the car, the higher the maintenance cost) and mileage (more mileage, more repairs). How well the car has been kept also factors into overall repair and maintenance costs. You can use tools such as Edmunds TCO (True Cost to Own) calculator to find out extra costs associated with a particular car model. Edmunds will even go beyond maintenance to include taxes, insurance and depreciation. 
Basic Averages 
Once you have factored in the car model, its current state and mileage, how much should you set aside every year for maintenance? As you would expect, the results vary widely depending on the factors stated above. But at a minimum, you should budget at least $1,200 per year on car maintenance. This breaks down to $100 per month. This covers things like; 
• An oil change. 
• Recurring issues. (Some models have a recurring problem that comes back even after repair) 
• Washer and brake fluids. 
• Tire checkup. 
Note that this estimate cost applies mostly to relatively new cars. As cars get older and take in more mileage, they tend to rise in maintenance costs. So for those with older vehicles or whose cars see more mileage per month, expect to spend a bit more. 
If you think your car needs more repairs and maintenance runs, consider bumping the monthly budget to $150 or even $200. This brings the yearly budget range to between $1,800 and $2,400. This range should be enough to cover most cars. 
Remember car maintenance costs are not like car payments; they do not come in neat monthly bills. While there are some monthly fixes and checkups that can be planned for, some issues arise unexpectedly. Now and then, you may have to pay a lump sum to fix a major problem. Instead of putting away a monthly budget, consider saving a lump sum to deal with any emergencies. 
When Maintenance is Too Pricey 
The figures give above are simply estimates, they can go slightly up or down based on various factors. But there is a point where car maintenance can become too expensive to justify keeping the car around. If you find yourself spending an upwards of $3,000 every year just to keep your car running, it is time to ask some questions. 
Unless it is an ultra-luxury model whose high maintenance costs are expected, you are probably spending too much on maintenance. The equation gets even more lopsided if you have an older car whose value has depreciated considerably. At this point, most car owners opt to scale back on maintenance and save the extra cash on a down payment for a new car. 
The reverse side of the coin – when you spend too little – is also just as bad. Your car is most probably your second biggest investment after your home. Spending too little on keeping it in good shape is akin to flushing your heard earned money down the drain. You are likely to ignore developing problems and maintenance checks until major issues arise. In the end, your car will die an early death and you will have spent more money than you would have if you had maintained your car properly. 
It is all About Preventive Maintenance 
Car health has remarkable similarities to human health. The same way humans benefit immensely from preventive health care, so do cars. By focusing on preventive maintenance, you ensure your car stays around for more years, keeps you and your family safe and costs you less in maintenance in the long run. 
A monthly checkup is a good place to begin preventive maintenance for your car.
Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto:  
Copyright Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto December 1st, 2016
*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.