Monday, August 24, 2009

Car Repairs and Budgets

I mentioned a little while ago that I was in the process of completing a few routine car maintenance items in order to keep my car on the road longer. My car is five years old and I am determined to drive it until it falls apart! I paid it off this June and I am absolutely loving not having a car payment and I want to make that feeling last as long as I can. Shortly after I wrote that post, a coworker of mine noticed that one of my brake light bulbs had burned out out, so I added that to my list of auto repairs. I also took a peek at my car's manual for other standard services I should have done. I missed my 30,000 mile routine service by 10,000 miles, so now I am going through the manual and picking them off one at a time as I have the funds.

Currently, I am in search of a local mechanic I can trust. I've read some reviews on some local shops and heard some good things about a place down the street, but I haven't been won over yet, so for the past few years, I've been taking mainly it to the dealership for oil changes. I know that everyone says that dealerships overcharge, but I have to say, I really like my dealership. The service people are all friendly and helpful and in 5 years they have never tried to get me to buy something I didn't need. Awhile back I had a horrible experience with one of those little quickie oil change places - not only were they incredibly pushy, but the oil change cost about twice what it does at my dealership! At that time I swore, "Never again! From now on it is either the dealership or a reputable mechanic for me.

So, off to the dealership I went - I had the bulb replaced, the oil changed and the air filter replaced. While these are all things I could have (and have in the past) done myself, I know that if it was up to me, the job would never get done...

My dad was a car guy and he taught me how to change oil and change air filters. It isn't hard, just a little dirty. Changing bulbs is even easier, but let's face it, I'm busy, and if those things had to wait until I had the time and more importantly, the motivation to do them - they wouldn't get done. I'm all about being frugal, but this not a job I was excited about doing myself, so I didn't.

The cost for the oil change was $27, the tail light was $4.83 and the air filter was $29.85. All total, with tax and everything else, it came to $64.41. Now here's the great news - I had the money all set aside in my budget. When I redid my budget back in June I started a car maintenance fund. I have a Honda and it has been incredibly reliable so far, but as I said, it is 5 years old, and this is the time things start to break. Currently I am putting $50 a month into the account, so I had plenty to pay for these repairs. In the future, once things have settled down a little, I plan on upping that amount considerably. I plan on it being not only my repair fund, but also my "next car" fund. As I said, I am really liking this no car payment thing. It would be great if I could pay for my next car in cash!

I am really pleased with my car maintenance budget. Last year I had $25 in my budget each month for repairs, but I didn't actually take the money out of my regular checking account. This meant that some months that extra just ended up in general funds, but when I did need the money, I never had enough. Now, I take that $50 out of general checking and it goes into a small savings account. That way, it is actually there when I need it! When I got back to the office, I just did a quick transfer between accounts and poof! everything is taken care of. Man, is that a nice feeling.


Photo by: His Noodly Appendage
via flickr

8 comments:

Frugalchick said...

Don't you love getting out of the body shop with a reasonable bill? So great you were able to pay for it out of your maintenance fund!

Dawn said...

Frugalchick - YES!!! It is funny, normally I hate spending money on my car - it is one of those things that seem like they should just "work" you know? I hate putting money into it... but, it isn't nearly so bad when you have the money already set aside!

Jessie said...

That's fantastic!! It's such a great feeling when you actually have the money available when you need!

your plans are working!!

Dawn said...

Jessie - thanks so much! It is quite a feeling, seeing everything come together.

Miss M said...

Fortunately Mr M does our routine oil changes and light maintenance. It definitely helps save a few bucks, the dealer is usually overpriced. They wanted $1300 to replace the computer in our durango, we bought the computer and installed it ourselves for $200!

You should be able to get many many years out of that car, even the cheapest cars can go 10+. I drove my cheapie plymouth neon for 10 and then sold it for $1600 cash. I want to hold on to my current car at least another 8 years, it's 5 now like yours.

Dawn said...

Miss M - I wish I had more of an interest in car maintenance. I have done it, but I don't enjoy it. I'd probably never tackle the whole computer thing, though I did once take apart my entire dashboard on my pick up to fix an electrical problem. I'm planning on at least keeping the car 10 years, hopefully many more than that. It is a great buggy and well built, so I feel pretty good about it.

Bouncing Back said...

A good mechanic is priceless!

Dawn said...

Agreed! Still looking for mine...