A database application is an ideal way to track car maintenance costs and keep track of common care upkeep expenses such as oil changes, tire rotations and tune ups.
Best of all, this database can be created from Microsoft Access for no cost, It is built from a free template.
When you first open MS-ACCESS it will show different templates. Choose Vehicle Maintenance one or you can search in the search templates field for ‘Vehicle Maintenance’. You should see the icon for Vehicle Maintenance as shown below.
After choosing the Vehicle Maintenance database the wizard will run and it will open an ‘Expense List’ form. It quickly creates the database and opens the expense list form below.
We see the form includes fields to track the automobile, car or vehicle. There is a field to enter the service description, a shop, the date of service and mileage and the cost.
Under the hood, looking at the same form in design view we can see all the fields and controls. There are four command buttons in the form header. There are fields for entering vehicle data, adding expenses, generating reports and handling the email list.
We can see there is a drop down list with values describing different repair shops (Shop 1, Shop 2 etc). You can change these values by selecting the shop field while in design view, see the property sheet ‘Data’ tab, record source. There you can change the shop values.
The other combo box is for the vehicle. To change that data, to add a vehicle is more involved because it opens up another form to track automobile or vehicle metrics.
If you just try to enter text vehicle field you get an error, ‘The text you entered isn’t an item in the list.” It will ask do you want to edit the items in the list. If you are new to the program, go ahead and choose ‘yes’. You can then go and enter your new vehicle information. The other way to get to the Vehicle Details form is to double click the field and it will pop up immediately.
Shown below is the form after I added some sample data.
Notice there are fields that could be useful for anyone with a fleet of cars, trucks or vehicles. It could also be used for tracking for a car or truck rental business.
There is also a field to upload a photo of your car. if you double click the photo field a dialog box prompts for the vehicle’s picture. You can select more than one photo and scroll through the photos via arrow buttons that appear above the field when you single click the field. That would be useful if you want to have pictures of the front, back and sides of the car or truck for insurance purposes. You could also add photos of the interior, the car engine, wheels or anything else in order to document the condition of the vehicle.
There are also print vehicle expenses and future expenses buttons. Data is saved automatically, click the close button to return to the expense list form. You can get back to the vehicle details form by double clicking on the Vehicle field on the Expense List form.
All told this is a nice clean, easy to navigate design. It is easy to figure out even without directions. Because of its simple interface there is little clutter. Less forms make for a a better user experience, users with basic windows application experience can easily use the program without difficulty.
Finally, after you enter your expense details, you can use the ‘E-mail-List’ button on the Expense list to send an email with your expenses. You can chose the format, excel, pdf, text file or html types are included as options.