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Rethink your monthly car budget

Rethink your monthly car budget

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 not making a strange noise and getting you from A to B, it’s fine, right? 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.

Roadside assist

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 who 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 for the Essential Option.

Tyres

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.

Battery

The battery is the heart of your car’s engine. 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, like Raylite, costs between R1000 and R2500, 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 – experts will let you know if it needs to be replaced. Otherwise, consider replacing your battery if the instrumental 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 idle.

Cleaning

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, even more so.

Budget for a full auto-valet every three months (unless an accident brings the timelines forward), at around R400. That means around R150 per month set aside 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 it’s revolting’ 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.

Visit www.batterycentre.co.za for more information on your car’s battery, when it needs replacing and where you can get it replaced at a Battery Centre in your area. Experts at Battery Centre can provide advice and guidance on the best battery for your vehicle, as well as other hints and tips on battery care. Battery Centre is part of First National Battery, SA’s biggest and most reputable commercial, leisure, car and industrial battery manufacturer. For more information about First National Battery, visit www.battery.co.za