Emily Chung: Mummy Mechanic


Budgeting for Auto Repair and Maintenance

How much is enough?

Our clients often ask how much they should expect to pay in auto maintenance and repair (on top of other auto-related costs such as finance/lease charges, insurance and fuel). A good rule of thumb that we suggest to set aside is approximately $100 per month. Some years you will only need to do preventative maintenance (such as oil changes or fluid services), other years you may need costly repairs such as brakes, tires, tune-ups or timing belt replacements. Keep in mind that this guideline ($100/month) is an average, some years you'll spend less and some years you'll spend a lot more.

A JD Power & Associates study released in August 2011 found that annual spending on vehicle maintenance declined due to drops ‘…in the average amount spent per service visit and [in] the number of service visits.’ The annual spending decreased on average $23 per vehicle (an overall industry contraction to $8.4 billion in 2011 compared to $9 billion in 2010).

The overall trend in our industry is extended service intervals with more maintenance items added to the usual oil change service (e.g. other filter changes, fluid service, etc). It’s important to note that with longer time in between service visits, there is less opportunity for us to monitor the vehicle and the study indicated that an oil change visit ‘…may now include a full tune-up, fluid flush and a recommended replacement of a part.’

This year's study did not specify on average how much Canadians spent during the year though last year’s report noted an average of $287 per visit per vehicle.

Whatever amount you choose is a personal decision and depends on your specific situation. Stick with the amount you choose to budget for and review it on an ongoing basis.