Budgeting for car maintenance

Every month since I bought my car, I have budgeted $25 per month for “car maintenance”.

I’m not really sure what this entails other than oil changes. My owner’s manual says to change the oil every 5,000 miles or every 12 months, so I will get it changed at the 12 month mark, but I get my first oil change for free at the dealership where I bought my car, so that won’t cost me anything this year.

In January, I bought an ice scraper/snow brush for $20 and I deducted that from my “car maintenance” budget.

I reduced the “car maintenance” budget to $8/month, but I need to make sure that this number is well-founded.

Here is the breakdown of my monthly transportation budgeting:

  • $105 Auto insurance policy
  • $22 Umbrella insurance policy
  • $100 Parking in my apartment building
  • $8.33 Car maintenance
  • $1.25 Driver licensing (Yes, I take the $75 every-five-years driver licensing fee and split it up monthly so it doesn’t sneak up on me)
  • $48 Fuel (1 full tank of gas at $4/gallon)
  • Total: $284.58
What am I missing other than oil changes? How much should I expect to pay for those each time? $50? $100?

4 thoughts on “Budgeting for car maintenance

    • Wow, four times a year? You must put a lot of kilometers on your car! I don’t drive to work – I mostly just drive to sports, my boyfriend’s, and my parents’, so I don’t put a lot of miles on the car. I’ve been averaging about 400 miles per month.

  1. The car owner’s manual is your best friend. It specifically lays out what needs to be done when it has to. Don’t let the mechanic tell you it has to be done ‘so and so’ miles, just shove the owner’s manual in his/her face. I bought my Subaru Impreza in 2004 and by following the owner’s manual, I have had zero ‘unexpected’ problems with my now 7yr old car.

    “My owner’s manual says to change the oil every 5,000 miles or every 12 months”
    That usually means what ever comes first, so if you hit 5,000 miles first you should change your car engine oil. In addition to the oil change, my car manual has me change my air filter every 15,000 miles and tire rotation every other oil change. There are usually some more work needed around the 30k, 60k, 90k area but each car has it’s own different maintenance schedule. Before I went overseas, I had to replace my tires which was around $500. Tires last around ~25,000-40,000 miles (2-4 years) depending on your driving habits.

    • Wow, thanks Tvo!

      I seem to be averaging about 400 miles or one tank of gas per month, so I will hit 12 months and 5,000 miles right around the same time.

      I was wrong – my owner’s manual actually suggests scheduled maintenance windows of 12 months or 10,000 miles. There is a long list of other items to do at the same maintenance window. With the miles increment being 10,000, I’ll probably be taking my car in for service once a year since I doubt I’ll ever put that many miles on my car in the foreseeable future!

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