Few 16-year-old cars purchased for less than $5,000 will be perfect. Almost any car will inevitably have a number of items that need attention unless the car was worked on right before it was sold. Being proactive with preventive maintenance will help your new car start off with a clean slate. None of this is free, of course, which is why you need to have a car maintenance strategy.
As a result, maintenance and repairs become a big part of owning a used car, and the 1996 Lexus ES 300 that we bought for our Debt-Free Car Project is no different. Our maintenance strategy is to make monthly payments to ourselves, which we will then put toward repairs.
For "deep subprime" buyers (those with a FICO score of less than 550), the average monthly payment on a used vehicle is about $365, according to Experian Automotive. We're using this monthly figure as the basis for our car maintenance budget. If we don't spend it, we can accumulate it over the months for fixes and upgrades. If we overspend, we'll try our best to delay repairs (when we can) or minimize costs in the following month.