5 Ways to Account for Your SUV’s Expenses

Published January 25, 2017 by Sean Jackson

One of the main things to keep in mind when buying an SUV is the cost of ownership. This can encompass fuel costs, maintenance, taxes, state registration fees, resale value, and more. Considering that buying a newer SUV represents a significant investment initially, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect it. This is why it’s important to financially prepare before buying your next model. By taking all these factors into account, it can help you budget for unexpected expenses, understand which models have the best resale value, and find tools you can use to determine the cost of ownership.

Service Costs

If you buy a new SUV, you won’t have much (hopefully) in the way of maintenance expenses for the first few years of ownership. In fact, many dealerships offer incentives for new buyers where they will offer free services such as oil changes, tire rotations, and inspections when you buy a new SUV. When it comes time to buy your next SUV, do some research. Ask your local dealerships what if any promotions they are running currently on their SUVs. If you find a dealership that offers free maintenance you can take advantage of that promotion or use it as a point of negotiation with another dealer. Most important, even if you cannot find these promotions in your area, do the small services when needed. Many SUVs have oil change monitors, where it will alert you when it’s time for service. Furthermore, manufacturers like Chevrolet have diagnostics, where it will send you an alert once a month showing how your vehicle’s systems are doing (mechanical, tires, oil level, etc). These tools are a great way to stay on top of doing the small repairs now before they morph into larger and costlier problems down the road.

Cost of Ownership Tools

Maintenance promotions are only one part of the cost equation, though. You should also prepare for an estimate of how much the SUV costs you in repairs. To do this, you can use Kelley Blue Book’s five-year cost to own tool. This tool takes into account items such as repairs, maintenance, insurance, fuel, and more to provide you with an estimate of how much you’ll pay for owning the SUV. To make shopping convenient, Kelley Blue Book broke the tool down by automotive segment. To demonstrate, you can shop for the least expensive SUV by compact, midsize, and full-size segments. Then, using your zip code as the guide, it will show the five least expensive models per class. You can then click on the breakdown link to learn more about a specific SUV. It’s important to note that this isn’t an exact science, so prices will fluctuate depending on a variety of factors including how often you drive, driving behaviors, whether you adhere to the maintenance schedules and more. At the same time, it does give you an idea of how much it will cost so you can use this as a way to budget additional expenses that will arise such as registration fees, gas, and more.

Extended Warranties

The last aspect of maintenance concerns how you prepare financially for repairs that will happen down the road. Many manufacturers offer warranties that cover specific items for up to years and/or mileage as outlined in the agreement. However, since most warranties don’t cover every part you might want to consider an extended auto warranty. An extended auto warranty can be used after or in conjunction with your manufacturer’s warranties. With extended policies, you receive extensive protection that can go as far as covering your tires, brakes, and more. Dealerships are eager to sell you these policies at the time they close the sale, but this tends to be an expensive move on the part of the buyer. Instead of signing up for a policy that they will package into the loan, resulting in you financing something you could have bought outright, shop around for the best policy or at the least tell the dealer you are willing to do it but don’t want to finance it with the loan. Most likely, they’ll be happy to comply with your request and could allow you to finance it at 0 percent interest. There are several things to keep in mind with these policies:
  • First, what is the deductible for service?
  • Can you take your SUV anywhere for service?
  • Does the provider recommend the shop use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts?

Financing

If you need to finance your SUV, you should shop around to see where you will receive the best deal. Your local credit unions are a great place to begin unless you have a great relationship with your current bank, who might offer you lower interest rates than you will find at the dealership. Some lenders will even cut you a check you can take to the dealership to buy your next SUV. Timing is also important. Around the holidays manufacturers offer financing incentives where you could receive low-interest rates. By planning ahead, you can find the lowest interest rates, which could save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Resale Value

Another aspect you’ll want to consider is resale value, especially if you plan to sell or trade in your SUV in the future. By doing proper maintenance and having a brand that retains its value more like Subaru, Honda (CR-V), GMC (Acadia, Yukon), Lexus (NX 200t, GX 460), and Jeep (Wrangler), you can receive more at trade-in for your model. This allows you to save more money on your next purchase. Overall, accounting for many of your new SUV’s expenses can help you budget accurately so there are fewer surprise costs during ownership. By taking the time to research these factors before buying, you will have more confidence in your purchase and you could save some money as well.

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