If you were to track your annual car expenses, those results might surprise you. Perhaps they would even disturb you. Quite easily, we can spend thousands of dollars annually on personal transportation, paying out for car loans, registration fees, taxes, gas, maintenance and repairs at an elevated rate. You can bring your car costs down to earth, by implementing 15 ways to reduce these expenses.
1. Keep your car longer. Pay off your car loan and keep it many years beyond the note. Set aside your savings as a down payment on a new car and put some of the funds into an account just for repairs.
2. Change your oil. Follow your manufacturer’s guidelines for changing oil. Clean oil helps your engine run more efficiently, reducing fuel consumption accordingly.
3. Keep your tires inflated. Under inflated tires are more prone to wear and tear, even a blow out. Your gas mileage will drop slightly too if your tires need air.
4. Use regular grade gasoline. Unless your car *requires* midgrade or premium gasoline, fill it up with regular grade unleaded. You will save 20 to 50 cents per gallon, with a negligible performance difference.
5. Ease up on the pedal. Jackrabbit starts and a heavy foot on the gas pedal will send your fuel economy plunging. Take care of your car and it will last longer. Ease up on the brakes too.
6. Lighten the load. What are you carrying around in your car trunk? In the truck bed? Don’t use your vehicle as a storage facility — lighten the load and the overall decreased weight will save you gas.
7. Use cruise control. When you’re traveling at highway speeds, always use cruise control. You’ll maintain your speed and optimize your fuel economy accordingly.
8. Bundle your insurance. If you own a home, then buy your auto insurance from the same company that insures your home. Bundled plans are cheaper and can save you 10 percent or more on your policies.
9. Raise your deductibles. The lower your deductible, the higher your insurance costs. If you assume more risk, your insurance rates will drop. Move from a $200 deductible to $500 or $1,000, to save you money.
10. Drop collision coverage. Most any car that is at least 10 years old or has more than 150,000 miles on the odometer no longer should have collision coverage. Drop this expense for your aged vehicles.
11. Wash your car yourself. Head to the car wash and you will pay $7 to $10 or more to get it cleaned. Instead, clean your car yourself, investing in the cleansers, towels, hoses and treatments that can help you do the job yourself.
12. Share a ride. Where possible, share a ride to school, work or for shopping. The fewer miles you put on your car, the longer it will last you.
13. Leave your car at home. If public transportation is affordable and convenient, begin to weave this option in from time to time. Buy a bus or rail pass and give your car a break to extend its lifespan. Rent a car for those extended trips too.
14. Avoid extended warranties. Rarely are new car extended warranties worth it. To get the coverage you want, you’ll pay a hefty premium and still may face deductibles. Instead, set aside the money for repairs once the new car warranty has ended.
15. Join an auto club. Towing, a lock out or other problems with your car can cost you a mint to resolve. Join an auto club and get these services included. You will enjoy other benefits too such as discounts on hotels, car rentals, entertainment and other perks.
Always follow your owners manual for maintenance guidelines. Accomplish your upkeep on schedule and you will get many more years out of your car, saving you thousands of dollars by allowing you to put off the purchase of a new one.
See Also — 5 Money Saving Car Care Strategies