Car Maintenance: Spending to Save

Spending money to save money sounds like an oxymoron but when it comes to car maintenance it really can save you money. There are a few very obvious ways that it can save you money such as reduced gas and maintenances costs as well as increasing the life of your car. These alone can make it worthwhile even if it seems like more of a hassle initially.


Originally from Flickr, uploaded by MadMan

Gas Costs

If you keep your car well maintained you get much better gas mileage out of it; especially if you do this over the life of the car. Say get 10% better gas mileage and have to fill up 9 times where you would normally have filled up 10 times. This savings seem very small but over the life of the car they’ll add up and will save you more than the cost of the maintenance.

One thing I’ve noticed with car maintenance on the cars I’ve owned, typically late model used cars, is that the improved gas mileage is far better than the 10 I mentioned. Cars that are beat up and not taken care of simply done run all that well and they have a tendency to break down which leads us to the next means of saving

Maintenance Costs

When your car breaks and needs repairs it costs a lot of money probably more than you were expecting or want to pay. Very often these repairs can be avoided by proper maintenance of the car. If you can avoid a single major repair to your car you’ve probably made up the cost of the maintenance if not a lot more. I’ve had a few cars need some major repairs, which could have been avoided with proper maintenance (the main one that comes to mind was courtesy of a previous owner). The worst part about car repairs is that we rarely expect the costs and have to dip into emergency funds or credit cards. If it’s the latter than the interest on those cards can really make some maintenance that much more worthwhile.

Extending the Life of your Car

Unless you happen to have bad luck with cars proper maintenance can extend the life of your car considerably. Even if the only thing you accomplish is extending its life by one year you can save a mountain of money. Lets assume you pay $400 a month for your car loan, by extending the life of your car for an extra year you won’t need to pay that amount for a new car as quickly. Over 12 months that $400 per month savings adds up to $4800. If you spend $1500 in maintenance costs over 5 years (and the car lasts you a 6th as a result) that savings is quite significant.

I know I’m using some hypothetical numbers but I think they illustrate the point rather well. Cars are very expensive to have especially if you’re paying lease or a loan on them. By removing the need to buy one for a year or two due to some diligent maintenance think of how much money you could save.

Also if you have an older car there’s a chance that your insurance premiums will go down. New cars tend to cost more from this point of view so that hypothetical $400 a month could easily be $500 with those premiums.

Some Extra Benefits

The obvious point that comes to mind is that maintaining your car in good shape can prevent you from having an accident. Accidents cause you hassles, cost you money, and worst of all they can cost lives. I know that this is a bit of a stretch but accidents do happen because of worn tires and bad breaks and those are preventable.

Car maintenance is something I know a lot of people avoid because it costs money and half the time it’s inconvenient. But the hypothetical numbers I used add up very quickly to significant amounts. Personally I would rather use that extra money to reduce or completely remove the next car payments. Keeping your car in good condition simply makes sense from a financial point of view, not to mention the benefits to the environment.

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