Could Servicing Your Own Car Save You $500 Per Year?

Car Servicing 1I’ve tried a multitude of different mechanics over the years. They’re all been lovely people. Friendly, obliging, helpful. It’s been amazingly convenient too with the local mechanic’s shop being just 400 metres away. Drive up, leave it there for a couple of hours and return home with grease-free hands.

It’s the bills that really get to me though. $100 an hour labour not including parts. Think that’s ludicrous? I agree. I tried two other mechanics and received the identical labour charge. $12.78 per litre of oil seems to be the going rate too.

As a student, I used to always service my own cars due to sheer financial necessity. Change the radiator, alternator, brakes, you name it. If I couldn’t fix it using my mechanical nous, the Mitsubishi Sigma and I remained grounded until the problem was solved. As I got a bit older and busier, I grew a bit lazy in this department. Crawling under the car, getting all dirty, working out what to do with all the waste oil. It all seemed so much more convenient to leave it in the hands of someone else, pay the bill and be done with it.

As stated in previous blog posts, I tend to view vehicles solely as a deteriorating “asset”. Unless you own a vintage MG, your daily driver is costing you! Shedding 20% in just your first year of new car ownership demonstrates that this is not really an asset class to build wealth on. Some modern cars are even shedding upwards of 70% of their purchase price in their first 5 years of ownership. Add to that car doors being banged up against your pride and joy at the supermarket, kids smearing peanut butter sandwiches all over your upholstery or people who seemingly drive using solely “The Force” as their guide. At times you can see why owning a modestly older vehicle can have its perks.

An older car can pay dividends in other ways too. Particularly when it comes to the area of servicing. When a vehicle has been around for a few years there is generally a flood of cost effective aftermarket parts should you need to replace anything. The real boon to owning a 5+ year old vehicle is that you can probably feel comfortable doing a minor service yourself. I’m not talking about changing the brake pads, installing new piston rings or rewiring the emission mapping system, but rather a simple, basic minor service. YouTube is a Godsend when it comes to getting this kind of assistance. Five minutes of watching someone “in the know” and you are ready to twirl that spanner like a pro!

This year I’ve decided to do each minor service myself. The synthetic oil I purchase is half the price at the store, the filters are notably less, but best part of all is the labour cost… zilch! At $100 an hour I can undo a nut and twist off an oil filter myself. Think there’s more to this in undertaking a minor service? Yes, there is, but mostly it just involves checking fluid levels and observing the function of different componentry. Your owner’s manual can be your best friend when it comes to this. Can’t be bothered rotating the tyres? Most major tyre manufacturers include a free rotation every 10,000 kilometres with your tyres.

So what kind of money could you potentially save? Averaging my last three services out equated to $463.94 per service. Whereas buying quality oil and a new filter for both vehicles barely hit my pocket to the tune of $60.20 per vehicle serviced. The time taken to service both vehicles was just under 90 minutes in total. Oil was disposed of for free at the local mechanics. Additional benefits included walking around slightly taller with my chest puffed out, and a notably heavier wallet.

If you have any questions or topics you would like me to write on, please drop me a line at I’d be glad to hear from you! If you missed the last mammoth post about how to create a budget from scratch, click here.

*** I will add one slight disclaimer- If you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, learn first or don’t attempt a service at all. This post does not to advocate someone mistakenly draining the gear box instead of the oil sump (I did this once and once only!) If you don’t have a clue where the “oil filler thingy” is, educate yourself, get a knowledgeable friend to help or maybe don’t attempt a service in the first place.

Car Servicing 2

Posted on April 14, 2016 in Vehicles and Petrol

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About the Author

I LOVE budgeting! Why you ask? Having a clearly defined budget enables my family of six to live an empowered life. I work as part time teacher, I’m an investor, novice longboarder, man of faith and run Budget Brilliance with a view towards seeing people’s lives changed financially.

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