For The Record

January 18, 2012

You balance your checkbook, don't you? That's how you keep track of what conditions your finances are in. But have you ever thought about keeping a ledger to tell you the condition of your car? Maybe not, but it makes sense because your car is likely one of the largest financial investments you'll ever make. Here, we'll break it down so you understand exactly what you should do. 

 I'ts simple--any and all maintenance records, including services like oil changes and tire rotations, should be kept for each of your vehicles. (These records really come in handy if you ever encounter a warranty issue related to one of your vehicle's components. Most warranties are contingent on performing regular maintenance and if you can't provide records to prove you've performed required maintenance you'll likely have to foot the repair bill yourself.)

 Preventative maintenance records should be kept for your vehicle from the very first to the very last day of ownership, if possible. (Even if you don't have any records on your vehicle, now is the perfect time to start!) Keeping preventative maintenance records on your vehicle will be a big help if you decide to sell it. This data can help increase your car's resale value, and can help you sell it faster.

 Just like your checkbook, you should keep your vehicle records in a safe place. But as long as you can get to your records quickly and easily when a maintenance question arises, the method doesn't really matter. 

 One of the easiest methods for keeping these records is with your computer. While there are applications you can but that will help, it's even easier with websites that are set up specifically to help you records you car's maintenance history, among other things. 

 Records can be as detailed or as concise as you want to make them, and many services like Ownersite.com (subscription based) or carcare.org (free) will allow you to customize your data.  Plus, with many online options you can select the option to be reminded whenever your car needs service based on the service intervals recommended by your owners manual. No more guessing if you need the service--now, you'll know!

 If you drive a company car, (or drive your own car for business or managing investments such as rental homes) keeping track of mileage and maintenance records is critical. Just ask the IRS. By keeping the data online, you can compile a complete list of business expenses related to the car, making your quarterly or annual reports a breeze.

 In the end, keeping a careful record of your car and its associated expenses can be a big help when it comes to maintaining a healthy car. 

 

The above was written by Jessica Odom and was published in the Winter 2011 edition of Vehicle MD.