Estimating Car Maintenance Costs

Paying for regular maintenance is part of owning a car. If you don’t budget for these costs properly, you could end up with a nasty surprise the next time your check engine light turns on. To keep you on track, we’re covering some ways you can estimate your car maintenance costs.

Car Maintenance Cost Factors

The amount you’ll pay in maintenance depends on a few factors. First, people who drive more miles pay more in maintenance. If you fall in this category, you’ll need routine work, like oil changes, more often, and your car will have more wear and tear every year.

If you drive an older car, plan on heavier spending. The longer cars are on the road, the more frequently parts will break down and need replacing.

Luxury brands don’t just cost you more upfront. Maintenance on brands like BMW and Cadillac is roughly three times more expensive than for brands like Toyota and Hyundai. According to Popular Mechanics, over the course of your first 150,000 miles driving a BMW 328i you’ll end up shelling out a whopping $25,100. If you opt for a Toyota Prius instead, that number plummets to $6,700.

Estimating Your Car Maintenance Costs

AAA looked at the average costs for different vehicles classes. The average maintenance cost broke down to just over 5 cents per mile.

Now, this is just a ballpark estimate, and your actual costs will depend on the factors mentioned before. If you want a more precise calculation, offers a free calculator that estimates the annual maintenance costs for different vehicle makes and models.

Maintenance Versus Buying a New Car

While paying for maintenance can be annoying, it’s a lot less expensive than buying a new car. The average monthly payment for a new car is about $500, according to an Experian study cited in USA Today. That’s $6,000 a year.

Using AAA’s metrics, the average driver pays a little more than $600 a year for maintenance. You can see why regular car maintenance is such a good investment. Every extra year you get out of your vehicle saves you thousands of dollars.

Car Insurance and Maintenance

Car insurance offers important protection and can be a lifesaver if you ever have an accident.  However, car insurance will not help you much with routine maintenance like oil changes and replacing your tires. Fortunately, new cars typically come with a warranty. Warranties vary by brand but, according to Autoblog, three years or 36,000 miles (whichever comes first) is still the standard. Warranties typically cover all major repairs. At the time of purchase, you may also be able to purchase an extended warranty. Extended warranties typically cover 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Whether an extended warranty makes sense depends on how you want to budget for maintenance. With a warranty, you have to make insurance payments every month, but you don’t have to worry about a large bill for repairs. On the other hand, if you can save the money yourself, you avoid the added cost of the warranty insurance. Before opting for an extended warranty, make sure you understand the policy and what’s covered.

Either way, you need a plan for how you’ll pay for car maintenance. Knowing the costs can empower you to budget adequately and keep your car going for as long as possible.

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