What’s the most expensive and unpredictable thing in your life? If you answered, “my car,” then you are definitely not alone. The convenience of having a car at your disposal is practically unmatched, especially when you live in a Canadian suburb, or a rural town, or a city, or anywhere really. Unfortunately, the time and money required to maintain a vehicle can often outweigh the convenience of being a car owner.
You probably don’t need to be reminded, but we’ll say it anyway: Canada’s ever-changing climate can be very tough on a car. Therefore it’s important that you are financially prepared to deal with whatever your car throws your way.
Enter the emergency fund. Chances are that someone, somewhere, has told you that opening an additional savings account for emergencies is a smart idea and they were not wrong. In fact, we are such fans of the emergency fund that we think you should take it one step further and open one specifically for your car. Here are 10 reasons why Future You will be glad you did:
1) When your tires need to be replaced
Good tires—especially winter tires—are a huge asset in Canada. Over time, your tires will inevitably need to be replaced. They can literally save your life in all kinds of weather conditions, which makes them a worthwhile investment. With an emergency fund especially for your car, purchasing new tires in the future will barely register on your radar because you’ll already have the money saved.
2) When your “check-engine” light comes on
One day when you’re driving down the street minding your own business, your check-engine light will appear. Before, when you didn’t have an emergency fund devoted to the maintenance of your car, you might have panicked. But now that you know you have the money, you won’t even flinch.
3) When it’s time to get your brakes changed
Brakes are without a doubt one of the most important parts of your car and this means that they need to be taken care of on a consistent basis. So, whether you need to completely replace all four or get some pieces fixed on one, you’ll be thankful when you have the money set aside to deal with it before things get too serious.
4) When the price of gas goes up (and stays up)
Unless you’re planning on buying an electric car anytime soon, gas is a necessary evil that your car loves to guzzle up. Since the price of gas is constantly fluctuating, having some extra money set aside to help cover the cost is always a great idea.
5) The moment you witness your windshield cracking
Amazingly enough, the tiniest of pebbles can put a serious crack in your windshield, one that will only get worse with time. For safety purposes alone, you need to deal with a cracked windshield right away. Not only that, but you could end up with a hefty ticket for driving an unsafe vehicle.
6) For that morning in February when your car decides not to start
One of the most heartbreaking sounds in the world is when your ignition decides not to turn over. As luck would have it, it always seems to be on the coldest mornings in the dead of winter when you’re leaving for work. So, whether you need money for a portable booster pack, a new battery, or a cab, an emergency fund will provide welcome relief.
7) When the car behind you doesn’t stop soon enough
Accidents happen. Whether it’s a fender-bender or something more serious, having the money set aside to deal with these issues is like having stress insurance.
8) When your air conditioning breaks and it’s +35, or when your heating breaks and it’s -35
From sweltering summers to freezing winters, Canada throws us all the curveballs it has. A working air conditioning or heating system can make all the difference when you have to brave the morning cold in January or the afternoon heat in July.
9) When your timing belt finally snaps
No matter what mechanic you go to, getting your timing belt replaced is a pricey job. And right around 150,000 km, it’s likely that your car will need to have it done. If you forgo the expense—because you don’t have the cash to cover it—you may be in for a surprise when you get stranded on the side of the road one day.
10) When you don’t quite see that pothole in time
Another inevitable effect of Canada’s winter months? Potholes. When ice expands and melts, the roads become laden with the car’s equivalent of bear traps, waiting to pop your tires and ruin your suspension. When defensive driving isn’t quite enough, you’ll be thankful to have a bit of emergency money to get your alignment fixed or tire patched.
Setting up your car repair emergency fund
The reason why we love emergency funds so much? They are uncomplicated and straightforward. All you need to do is open a new savings account with your bank, which you might even be able to do online from the comfort of your own home. If it’s possible, consider changing the name of the account, not only is this a great way to keep your accounts organized, it’s a great visual motivator.
Once you’ve setup your account, you need to start saving. In our opinion, the number one best way to do this is to set up regular automatic transfers. Choose the amount you want to transfer and the frequency and that’s it, no need to worry about it again. You’ll have peace of mind that you’re consistently saving and will always have the money you need to cover whatever vehicle-related expenses come your way.
If you’re looking to make the most your car’s emergency fund, reducing the cost of owning your car should be your first step. While many expenses associated with owning a vehicle are unavoidable, here are a few suggestions to help you keep the overall cost under control.
Driving your car less
Though it can be tempting to drive every place you need to go, especially when the weather isn’t so great, it’s good for both the environment and your finances to give your car a break from time to time. Try taking public transit on occasion to save yourself the gas money and future wear and tear. On sunny days, if you don’t have too far to go, ride your bike or walk. There are even apps out there that reward you this!
Switching insurance providers
Everyone needs car insurance, but everyone doesn’t need to be spending an arm and a leg to get it. Call around and get some quotes, you never know just how much you’ll be able to save if you don’t ask. Or, try out MyInsuranceShopper!
Keeping up with maintenance
The less you take care of your car, the worse the repairs are will be when it comes time to deal with them. Get your car inspected, then keep up with all the repairs and adjustments that need to be done on a regular basis. And when it comes time for a big repair, don’t wait too long or the problem may become worse.
Learn to change your own tires
While there are many issues that are better left to the professionals, changing your tires is something you can easily learn to do on your own. You’ll save some money and as a bonus, you’ll be able to handle a flat tire should you ever need to. (Just don’t let the tires change themselves.)
There is nothing quite like hitting a clear (and snow free) road in the summer months, just keep in mind that driving responsibly can seriously reduce the cost of owning a vehicle. The more responsibly you drive, the longer your car will remain in top shape and you’ll be less likely to get a ticket or cause an accident.
Shopping around for the best prices
If you’re looking to save some money when it comes to the maintenance of your car, some of the best ways to do so are to choose a trusted mechanic and shop around for the best prices.
In case you were wondering, RepairMatch can help you do both! You’ll choose a fair price, get matched with a trusted mechanic (who must maintain quality reviews) in your area, and be able to choose a time that fits your busy schedule.