5 Ways to Drive Down Your Car Expenses

by Ron Haynes

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.

About the author

Ron Haynes has written 988 articles on The Wisdom Journal.


The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.



{ 3 comments }

Jason Hull

While I like to save money on gas, don’t forget that driving a distance to get a slightly cheaper gas price may cost you more over time. AAA estimates that the cost of operating a car is between 14 and 18 cents per mile (http://www.piercetransit.org/rideshare/costs.htm). I remember Clark Howard used to drive all the way across Atlanta to get $.01 per gallon cheaper gas. So, if your car holds 14 gallons, you probably need to be saving one cent per gallon per extra mile that you’d drive to make it worthwhile.

Ron

Good point. My 2010 Toyota Corolla costs around 7 cents/mile. I just used the Gas Buddy app on my iPhone to drive 5 miles out of my way and save 25 cents/gallon on a fill-up! I’ll invest 35 cents to get back $3 any day. :)

Melissa

Shopping around for repairs is very important. No two garages charge the same, so it’s worth spending some time to get a few quotes, whether it’s for repairs, or servicing.

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