If you’re guilty of setting aside just enough for your car’s debit order and the requisite two to three tanks of petrol every month, you’re not alone. Most people keep car payments to a minimum. As long as it’s getting you from A to B and not making a strange noise, its fine, right? Well, maybe not.
There are additional considerations for your monthly car budget that, if worked in ahead of time, can prevent a last-minute cash haemorrhage when something goes wrong.
It’s one thing to be stuck on the side of the road with the sound of your meeting or social gathering whooshing by before a kind-hearted friend comes to get you. It’s quite another to come to a grinding halt in a dangerous area, which puts you at risk of hijacking or theft or on the highway with cars approaching at speed.
Working a roadside assistance payment into your monthly budget provides invaluable resources in an emergency and you’ll be endlessly thankful you made it a priority. Many insurance providers offer roadside assist as an additional service. Find one that does and opt for the extra. Alternatively, an AA membership will give you the relief of knowing you’ll get support quickly when you need it for as little as R85 per month.
The expense of tyres doesn’t seem like a priority month-to-month and then poses a formidable financial inconvenience when you have to replace them. Why not set up a monthly debit order and start a small savings bundle for tyres? The amount can be adjusted according to the price of your car’s tyres. By the time you have to replace your tyres again, you won’t have to deal with a harsh blow that throws out your monthly budget.
The battery is the heart of your car. Without it, your car won’t start and most of the controls will be rendered useless. Your battery should be replaced about every three years or more frequently if necessary. A quality battery can cost up to R2 500, which means a monthly budget of R80 to R100 will protect you against the cost of the battery when it needs replacing.
Make it a routine every six months to have your battery tested for free at a Battery Centre. You will be informed if your battery needs to be replaced. Otherwise, consider replacing your battery if the instrument panel battery light is on, your starter motor is working slowly or is interrupted, the battery seems to lose power quickly in cold or extended starts, or headlights dim when at idle.
Most car owners only opt for an auto-valet if they’ve spilt a carton of milk or can of beer and are more likely to keep the exterior of the car immaculate. But a deep-clean of the interior of your car on a regular basis is essential – not a luxury – if you want to prevent infestations of pests, strange smells and stains that affect resale value. If you have young children with sticky fingers, it is even more important.
Make sure to budget for a full auto-valet every three months, which will cost around R400. Set aside around R150 per month for the service. Once it becomes routine, you’ll wonder how you did it any other way. It also precludes the “please excuse my car” conversation when friends, family or colleagues have to catch a ride with you.
With just a little extra forethought around some oft-forgotten car maintenance and insurance, you can make repairs and emergencies easier to swallow.