Ninety percent of all driving-eligible Americans own a car and the average family owns 2.8 vehicles. With this many vehicles driving around, the expenses associated with using them is one of the easiest to cut when we need to free up some extra cash. Here are some solid tips for reducing the costs of your vehicle:
1. Save on fuel
- Find the cheapest gas in town. I use an app on my iPhone called Gas Buddy. It’s free and it shows me the cheapest fuel prices for stations near me or for whatever city I type in.
- Avoid premium fuels unless specifically recommended by your car’s manufacturer.
- Drive smoothly and avoid “jack-rabbit” starts.
- Don’t carry excess junk in your trunk – every extra pound in your car deteriorates is fuel mileage.
- Ask your boss to allow you to come to work earlier if you can leave earlier to avoid rush-hour traffic.
- Carpool and split the fuel costs.
- Utilize public transportation where possible.
- Utilize a gasoline rewards card (find one on my credit card page).
2. Cut your car insurance costs
- Review your options for better auto insurance at InsureMe.com.
- Ask about discounts from your current insurer.
- Raise your deductible and stash enough to cover it in your emergency fund.
- Drop collision and/or comprehensive if your car is paid for but less than your deductible.
3. Maintenance is cheaper than repairs
- Read your car’s owner’s manual – you’ll be surprised what you’ll find out.
- Follow ALL service intervals. Budget for them ahead of time.
- Check your tire pressure and keep it maintained.
- Check on Groupon for potential savings on oil changes and other maintenance items.
- Get anything that doesn’t look right, feel right, sound right, or smell right checked by your mechanic before it escalates into a bigger problem.
4. Shop around for repairs when you need them
- Don’t hesitate to shop around if you need something repaired.
- If your car needs a routine type of repair (new muffler, brake job, timing belt, etc), call local shops as well as national chains and yes, even your dealership. I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable my dealership was plus I was confident they knew what they were doing.
- Consider used parts but make sure they come with some sort of guarantee. Many times things like alternators can be rebuilt and subsequently they are much cheaper than buying new.
5. Consider doing it yourself
- Minor repairs are well within almost anyone’s capability and the service manuals for your car probably cost less than $30. With a few simple tools, you CAN replace a radiator hose, install a new battery, change your oil and oil filter, install a new thermostat and a host of other tasks.