Whether you bought it second-hand or a brand new, there’s that joy and excitement on your face when you’ve just purchased a car. You’re probably thinking of your next vacation and how you’re going to drive all the way to Baguio or Tagaytay.
But reality will strike after a few months (especially if you bought it second-hand) and you’ll feel the weight of the cost of maintenance.
Maintaining your car isn’t a walk in the park. So, here’s a guide on how to save money with your auto servicing.
Due to competition amongst car dealers, it’s common for them to entice customers with a low down payment. And the monthly amortisation ranges from P8,000 or P40,000 or more, depending on the downpayment and months to pay.
But behind these ads and promos, you’d be shocked to find out the real cost. The actual cost doesn’t include the high rates on mortgage and maintenance after the free periodic maintenance service from the manufacturer.
Maximise your free PMS (1,000 KM or 5,000 KM)
When you buy a brand new car, you get to enjoy freebies such as free PMS (preventive maintenance service) vouchers. Depending on which car you purchase, you will get a coupon for free maintenance for the first 1,000 KM; other dealers offer 5,000 KM.
Brands like Mazda and Volkswagen offer car owners two to three years free PMS. Always be maintenance-savvy when buying a brand new car, to make sure it’s still at its best condition. Spare parts do wear out, and regular visits to the casa result in an excellent performance.
Take care of your tires before they retire
The front tires are usually the ones that wear out quickly. You can always visit a tire shop and swap the front and rear tires to make sure they’re “wearing” evenly. This will give your set a little more life so you won’t have to replace them as quickly. But safety first – make sure you read the owner’s manual first to know when you should actually replace them with a brand new set.
Regularly inflate your tires and use the correct pressure – again, refer to the owner’s manual as each car will be different. Ensuring that you have the right tyre pressure not only affects how long the tyres will last, but it can also save you money at the pump. Driving with the correct pressure will save you gas mileage of an average of 0.6 per cent up to 3%. Finally, keeping your tyres at the optimum pressure is also the safest way to travel – and that’s priceless.
Regularly check your fluid levels
If you’re regularly driving in and out of town, find time to check the fluid levels. Check your wiper fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid making sure they’re on the proper levels. Don’t wait for your gas gauge to turn “Empty” or see the red lights on your dashboard. It’s not just major parts that can drain your bank balance, these “little things” will affect the overall performance of your car and in turn, affect how much you’ll need to spend on fixes in the long-term.
Neglecting these fluid checks will likely end you up paying more on repair bills when you get to your mechanic. If you’re using your car for your Grab-car services, a regular visit to your mechanic or at the casa, including tire maintenance are non-negotiables. Since you’re using it for business, expect higher maintenance cost if you’re a Grab driver or if you hired someone to drive your car.
Crowdsourced knowledge and read your manuals
Nothing beats the crowd’s wisdom when it comes to maintaining your car with the same model and brand. Join Facebook groups that will serve as your support group and insider’s tips.
You can search for specific groups that cater to those who also have the same model as yours, let’s say, Toyota Corolla. You can join Toyota Corolla Club Philippines (TCCP) Official and learn from your peers and experts. Fun fact: Toyota has one of the lowest maintenance costs out of any manufacturer.
These groups are more often than not, non-profit organisations and host meet-ups with fellow owners. Some groups require membership fees, but most of the information there is free.
On the other hand, reading the owner’s manual will surely save your life and time whenever there’s an emergency, or you learn some hacks on the nitty-gritty parts of your car. You’ll be surprised by the information you’d discover from how to maintain car parts and the type of oil you should use.
Warm the engine and avoid idling
Starting the engine without warming up is a common bad habit.
Before leaving your garage, warm the engine for about 30-60 seconds to pump up and get the fluids moving and drive slowly.
Second, idling could cost you more fuel consumption if you’re on parking or while waiting. According to Argonne National Laboratory, this consumes a quarter to a half-gallon of fuel per hour.
This could be a challenge for drivers braving Metro Manila’s traffic. The problem is two-fold because of the increase of fuel consumption and intermittent stepping on the brakes along EDSA. This will also affect your brakes, clutch, gasoline, and overall engine performance. Top tip: stay in neutral if you’re stuck in traffic.
Drivers in Manila can be aggressive and undisciplined at times. It’s better to slow down and avoid hard-stepping on the brakes as you not only waste your gas, but you can also wear out your brakes and tyres.
Average auto servicing costs of popular passenger cars
Preventive maintenance costs in the Philippines can range from as low as P2,500 for an oil change at your local mechanic or as high as P25,000 if you opt for the casa services (especially for the brand new cars). Below are the estimated costs of PMS of popular passenger cars and sub-compact SUVs per appointment.
Changing your oil and basic auto servicing, whether at the casa or your local mechanic would be 3-4 times every year, depending on use and mileage. For brand new cars and under warranty, the casa often requires every 3 to 6 months or 5,000 KM, 10,000 KM, whichever comes first.
These estimated costs are services at the casa.
|Model and Mileage at 10,000 KM
|Estimated Cost Per
|Estimated Annual Cost (x4)
|P3,600 – P5,700 +
|P14,400 – P22,800 +
|P3,600 – P4,000 +
|P14,400 – P16,000 +
|P3,800 – P4,300 +
|P15,200 – P17,200 +
|P3,800 – P5,500 +
|P15,200 – P22,000 +
|P3,900 – P4,500 +
|P15,600 – P18,000 +
|P4,400 – P4,700 +
|P17,600 – P18,800 +
|P4,000 – P4,500 +
|P16,000 – P18,000 +
|P4,700 – P5,000+
|P18,800 – P20,000 +
Easy to maintain car brands from South Korea, Japan and China could be your starting point. Buying a car is a life-changing moment, regardless of your status. It could be daunting as well to find the best one that suits your needs. As a discerning buyer, don’t always focus on the fancy features and sleek interiors, but instead, choose a brand and a unit that will save you money on repairs and maintenance for long-term.