How To Budget For Car Repairs

How To Budget For Car Repairs is, unfortunately, not one of the things they teach you about in high school. Most of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves in a situation where an unexpected expense has stretched our financial situation to the breaking point.

For a lot of people, their car breaking down, and the subsequent bill for towing and car repairs is probably pretty high on that list of bad memories.

To avoid this, automotive repair is absolutely something you should include in your household budget. You probably already include things like your car payment (if you have one), insurance, gas, and other related expenses. It would be nice if owning an automobile didn’t require so many payments and costs, but the reality is that driving a car tends to be expensive.

How Do You Budget For Car Repairs

Your car probably sees more use than any other machine you own. Your tires, engine, brakes and all other car components are put under repeated stress on a daily basis. That kind of wear and tear takes a toll. In order to keep your car running smoothly, it’s necessary to replace, clean, or adjust certain things periodically.

Oil Change

Recommended Interval: Every 3,000 Miles
Average Cost: $75

One of the most fundamental maintenance items for any vehicle is the oil change. Clean, fresh engine oil is essential to keeping your car running smoothly. Neglecting to change your oil often enough can lead to expensive engine problems. Things like bearing wear, hydraulic lifter failure, timing chain issues, and others can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Timely oil changes are the best way to avoid that.


In between oil changes, don’t forget to check your oil level occasionally. Many modern engines will use less than a quart of oil between changes, others can consume as much as a quart every 600 to 700 miles. Maintaining proper oil levels can help you avoid costly car repairs, too!

Tire Rotation

Recommended Interval: Every 3,000 to 5,000 Miles
Average Cost: $40

The front and rear tires of your vehicle each support a different weight load. Additionally, the front tires take most of the steering forces. As a result, the front and rear tires wear at different speeds. Having regular tire rotations keeps all four of your tires in roughly the same shape, which will help your tires last longer between tire replacements.

Wheel Alignment

Recommended Interval: Every 2 Years and When Getting New Tires
Average Cost: $95

Properly aligned wheels help you in fixing or avoiding related problems such as a vehicle pulling to either side, poor gas mileage, a crooked steering wheel, or uneven wearing of tires. Incorrectly aligned wheels are one of the main causes for uneven and/or premature tire wear. So, in addition to regular tire rotations, having your wheels aligned every couple of years will help you get the most miles per dollar out of your tires.

Heating/Cooling and AC System Inspection

Recommended Interval: At the Start of Each Summer or Winter Season
Average Cost: $75

Here in the Arizona desert, your car’s AC system is one of the things that makes summer bearable for you. Your car’s cooling system does something similar for the engine and transmission. In winter climates, your car’s heating system (which is tied into the engine’s cooling system) also keeps you comfortable. You’re going to be using your AC or heat on a regular basis, depending on the particular season, and you want to make sure it’s not going to fail when you need it most. 


We are currently offering free AC System Inspections, as well as Heating & Cooling System Inspections! Call to schedule an appointment today!

Brake Maintenance

Brake Fluid Flush

Recommended Interval: Every 2 Years or 20,000 Miles
Average Cost: $88

Even though the brake fluid in your car is critically important, the brake fluid flush is one of the most often overlooked maintenance tasks. However, it’s essential if you want your brakes to perform their best when you need them!

Brake Pad Replacement

Recommended Interval: Every 20,000 to 50,000 Miles
Average Cost: $150

One of the hardest working parts in your vehicle are the brake pads. All that friction and heat generated by bringing over 3,000 pounds of car to a halt over and over takes its toll.  If you service your brakes regularly, you will greatly extend the life of parts like calipers and rotors.

Ignition System Maintenance (Tune Up)

Recommended Interval: Every 50,000 to 75,000 Miles
Average Cost: $175

When you turn the key to crank the engine in your vehicle, the ignition system sends high voltage (20,000 to 50,000 volts) to the spark plug in each of the engine’s cylinders. As that energy arcs across the gap at the bottom of the plug, a flame-front ignites the air/fuel mixture. The timing of this process must direct the correct amount of spark to each individual combustion area at exactly the right time. Keeping this system in good working order helps your car run better, and get better gas mileage, which in turn saves you money!

How to Budget for Unexpected Problems

The previously discussed maintenance items tend to follow a fixed schedule. That makes it easy to budget for them in advance. But to go along with budgeting for routine items, it’s also a smart move to build in some extra savings for any unexpected issues that come up.

Even with good maintenance habits and upkeep, sometimes a part will unexpectedly fail. Since you never know for certain when a breakdown might occur, it’s a good idea to set some money aside. An extra $50-$75.00 a month set aside for that unexpected future breakdown may save you a lot of stress when it happens!

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