Cars are not cheap. Purchasing a vehicle can be a significant expense that can eat into your bank account each month if you’re financing the car through a loan or if you’re leasing it. But that expense is just for the privilege of owning the car and it’s only the beginning. Cars have additional costs associated with them that can get rather expensive if you’re not careful. They need routine maintenance, gasoline to operate, you’re required to carry car insurance in order to drive legally and that’s another expenditure coming out of your pocket every month or in one lump sum twice a year. After all of that, make sure you comply with the rules of the road or else you could be hit with hefty fines for speeding or parking tickets.
Like we said, owning a car is not cheap. Even older vehicles can sometimes be as costly, if not more so, than buying something new, because the older cars can break down more easily and more often. Unless you’re a mechanic who knows how to do repairs, those costs can become a drain on your finances. But there is some good news, there are many ways to reduce your expenses across the board and these six are some of the most common that can keep you from paying too much just so your car can remain on the road in top working order.
1. Buying New or Used
There are so many things to consider when you’re buying your next car, but since this expense can often be the highest you’ll be dealing with on a routine basis it’s as good a place as any to start finding ways to save. When you’re searching for the right vehicle, deciding between new and used can be an important choice. A used car can be less expensive to own but if things start to break down you’ll be paying those costs yourself. A new car comes with a warranty (and free oil changes and other maintenance as well), so while those costs won’t be coming out of your pocket you’re paying more for the vehicle since it’s brand new.
2. Gas Mileage
When you do your research into the variety of cars within your price range, one of the first things to consider is gas mileage. In other words, how much is it going to cost to fill up the car and how often are you going to need to do it? How often will you drive the vehicle? Is this your primary transportation to and from work everyday? How far is that and how many miles does the car get to the gallon? Asking these questions is a good way to save on your automobile expenses, especially where gasoline is concerned. You could go with a hybrid automobile, which won’t require you to fill up as often and that will help you save a lot of money on gas.
3. Routine Maintenance
A smart way to keep your maintenance costs down is by keeping the car in clean, proper working order. That means getting routine oil changes, changing the air filter each month, and keeping the wheels aligned correctly. Newer cars don’t need their oil changed as often but the older models should have an oil change every 3,000 miles. A clean air filter is going to keep the car running efficiently and increase your gas mileage, while proper alignment and wheel balancing prevents the tires from wearing out unevenly and helps to preserve the life of all four of them. This way you won’t need to replace them prematurely.
4. Filling Up
Even with a hybrid automobile, you’re going to need to gas up. If it’s not a hybrid and you drive your car often, that could be two or three times a week. But there are still ways you can save some dough when it comes to putting gas in the tank. For starters, it’s likely you won’t need to pump premium. The higher octane can cost as much as 20 cents more than regular unleaded and unless your owner’s manual specifically delineates putting premium gas in the car, you don’t need to do it. Another way to conserve gas is by grouping all of your errands together so that you only make one trip to get it all done. The less time spent driving the car, the less gas you’re consuming on the road. One more thing to consider, paying with a credit card can also save you some cash. But only if you have a cash-back rewards card that gives you back a significant percentage of your spend. Many cards offer anywhere from 3% to 5% back on purchases made at gas stations.
5. Insurance Costs
You are mandated by law to have car insurance, but you’re not required to pay through the nose to own it. Luckily, there are a myriad of ways to save a boatload of money to remain in compliance with the law. You have a bunch of options, starting with the insurance company you choose. Almost all of the major providers offer a list of discounts to help consumers pay less on their monthly premiums. These discounts can come from having a perfect driving record, going paperless, paying your insurance in one lump sum, even students with good grades and owning multiple policies with the same insurer can reduce the rate you pay for coverage. When you compare costs, do your research on all of the discounts for which you may qualify.
6. Getting Around
A great way to save money on your car expenses and maintenance is by not driving the car. So consider taking public transportation, ride a bicycle, walk, or if you need to arrive quicker than these options may provide, try one of the popular ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft (please use my codes so I get a referral bonus). The money you’ll spend on these alternatives can be far less expensive than owning and operating a motor vehicle in the long run.