SAN FRANCISCO – Upon receiving an unexpected bill to repair your car, it’s understandable if you have an emotional reaction. You might begin to wonder if it’s time to trade your old vehicle for something newer that needs less maintenance. However, while it’s natural to have these thoughts and emotions, the cost of maintaining your current vehicle probably isn’t as high as it seems at the moment.
This highlights one of the biggest problems of auto maintenance: its irregularity. You may go a year without paying for anything other than oil changes, and then suddenly you’re hit with an $800 repair bill. The problem is this doesn’t provide a realistic picture of the actual cost of maintaining your vehicle.
To determine what vehicle maintenance is truly costing you, have your mechanic look over your invoices for the last five to 10 years, figure out how much you’ve spent and break this down into an average monthly cost. Vehicle owners are often surprised to find that their maintenance expenses aren’t as high as they thought (which helps calm their emotions over large bills).
Generally speaking, the longer you can keep a car running, the less money you’ll spend overall. For example, maintaining a 15-year-old Japanese car typically breaks down to $75 to $125 a month, while an Audi or Mercedes-Benz will be closer to $200 a month. If this seems high to you, consider that the average cost of owning a new vehicle is closer to $300 a month, due to the fact that you’re making payments. So, as long as your car’s engine is OK and you have a good mechanic, you probably won’t overspend on maintenance.