Car Lifts
WHeel Service
Shop Talk from Mechanic Superstore

Catch up with the projects the MSS community is working on, the latest updates on the equipment we love to use, and voice your opinion on the the Chevy vs. Ford argument. Sign up for the MSS community list to receive member only discounts on all our equipment.

See The Latest Talk

The War Chest (How to Financially Plan your Car Project)


Work the man math right and any car can be argued as a sound financial decision. 

The War Chest (How to Financially Plan your Car Project)

Alex Wheatley
November 11, 2020

You’re fairly sure you’re going to buy that famously unreliable, sightly too old, notorious money pit. But don’t let me try and talk you out of it, quite the opposite. All cars cost money to run, all cars break eventually.If you’re spending money to run a car, you may as well spend it on something that doesn’t just feel like an appliance. Work the man math right and with a little self discipline any car can be argued as a sound financial decision.

Enter...the War Chest. 

Traditionally a war chest is saving up for something that hasn’t actually happened yet. So when you wake up to find your Range Rover is doing its best impression of the downward dog yoga position, don’t curse the day you finally clicked ‘Place Bid’. Just dip into the War account you set up for this sort of thing, get it fixed, and carry on enjoying your vehicle. 

As a serial purchaser of well-worn and less than sensible money pits on online auctions, this is a subject close to my heart. Over the years I’ve stuck to a three-step process that takes away the stress and surprises that come unequivocally with your new ride.


Trawl forums and Facebook groups to find out the common issues people have already dealt with, look at regular servicing costs, and check out tires and brakes. Even if you can do the work yourself, never bank on it - life can get in the way all too fast. Know the most expensive (worst case) issues and how much it’s going to cost per year to maintain without any repairs. 

The War Chest

If you haven’t been scared off yet and still decide to take the plunge, set up an account just for the car - Fill it with the cost of the most expensive failure likely to happen and a set of tires. You’ve made a start. 

The Monthlies

Now top off the account with a monthly payment that covers both the predicted maintenance costs and spread out the other big ticket failure items over five years. If you really want to speed up the process, match the price for a comprehensive warranty and add on a little for servicing.

Now all you have to do is hit the road. Yes, the monthly payment may seem a little over the top, but you’ll pat yourself on the back when you need it.

Congratulations! You’ve basically set up your own warranty. And remember warranty companies are set up to make a profit. The difference being no desk clerk is going to deny coverage for that suspension airbag due to wear and tear. 

Now this may sound really obvious - and I’m sorry if it is. But it’s amazing how few car enthusiasts actually do this. So many fall into the trap of either dreaming about a car and not getting it due to fear, whilst paying a fortune in depreciation for something ‘sensible’. On the other hand, some choose to purchase a piece of scrap metal under the promise that they’ll do all the work themselves - which then ends up a little...sub optimal, and they fall out of love with it. I know I have in the past. 

So don’t be jealous of those who think nothing of running that ‘cheap’ 1970 Ford F-100. Do the math, set up the war chest and get it on the road.

Click for More Articles