Save on New Car Purchases and Maintenance
You can save big money on your car expenses – thousands of dollars a year. The more cost-saving measures you adopt, the more money you’ll save. Potential savings will vary widely depending on your personal situation.
SAVE MONEY ON NEW CAR PURCHASES
- Keep cars longer instead of trading every few years. Not only does the cost of new cars rise each year, but cars depreciate quickly, and when you trade frequently, you lose money on low trade-in values. Buy a good quality car and keep it for five to seven years. Potential Money Savings: $400-1,000/yr.
- When buying a new car, consider smaller models. They’re often cheaper, and because they’re lighter, they usually get better gasoline mileage. In addition, insurance is cheaper. Potential Money Savings: $400-600/yr.
- When buying a new car, consider the impact that various options have on fuel economy. For example, you sacrifice several miles per gallon when using air conditioning on the highway and even more in stop-and-go traffic; automatic transmissions get about five mpg less than manual transmissions; six-cylinder engines get about four to five mpg less than four-cylinder engines. Potential Money Savings: $400/yr or more.
- Don’t buy credit life or credit disability insurance through your car dealer when purchasing a new car. Some dealers do a hard sell on these coverages, but they are highly overpriced, and if they’re folded into your car loan, you not only end up paying 100% to 500% more than you should for the coverage, you also pay interest on it. Stick to regular life and disability insurance through your employer or an individual policy. Potential Money Savings: $300-500.
- Be extremely wary of purchasing service contracts or extended warranties on new automobiles through your dealer. Many of them have very limited coverage (in spite of what the salesman may lead you to believe) and they cost much more than policies purchased directly from providers like Warranty Direct (www.warrantydirect.com). Potential Money Savings: $500-1,000.
SAVE MONEY ON CAR MAINTENANCE
- Keep your car properly tuned. A poorly tuned car uses between 25% and 33% more gasoline each year. It’s cheaper to pay the cost of a tune-up. Potential Money Savings: $150-250/yr.
- Change the oil and oil filter in your car every 3,000 miles, regardless of how often your owner’s manual recommends. More frequent oil changes are the single most important factor in extending the life of your engine, and will more than pay for themselves in savings on repairs and engine wear. Potential Money Savings: $500 – $3,000.
- Check your car‘s air filter monthly. A dirty filter shortens the engine’s life and reduces gasoline mileage up to 10%. You can clean the filter by removing it and blowing it with an air hose, or you can replace it. Potential Money Savings: $130/yr or more.
- Use steel-belted radial tires. This can increase your gasoline mileage up to 10% per year. Potential Money Savings: $130/yr or more.
- Unless your car is knocking and pinging, don’t use a higher octane gas than your owner’s manual recommends. For most cars, premium gasoline offers no benefit. Unless your car has a high-performance engine and your manufacturer recommends a high-octane gas, use the less expensive gas. Premium gas costs 10% to 15% higher than regular. Potential Money Savings: $200-400/yr.
- Check your tire pressure regularly. You can lose up to 6% in gasoline mileage for every pound of under-inflation. Potential Money Savings: $140-400/yr.
- Add thousands of miles to the life of your tires by having them balanced once a year. In addition to destroying the tread, improperly balanced tires can wear out your shock absorbers and damage your suspension system, leading to more expense. Potential Money Savings: $175-250/yr.
- Check fluid levels regularly. Low battery water shortens your battery’s life. Also check coolant, automatic transmission fluid, brake and clutch fluids. Potential Money Savings: $50-300/yr.
SAVE MONEY ON GAS
- Pump your own gas. Self serve gas is usually 5% to 10% cheaper than full service. Potential Money Savings: $65-130/yr.
- Don’t “top off the tank” when pumping gas. Some of the gas may end up overflowing when it expands in the sun or if you park on a hill. Potential Money Savings: $20-53/yr.
SAVE MONEY ON INSURANCE
- Ask your insurance agent how much money you can save by raising the deductible on your auto collision insurance. Often, raising the deductible from $200 to $500 can save you 10% to 30%. If you have a good driving record, you could come out ahead. Potential Money Savings: $50-225/yr.
- Make sure you notify your insurance company of all the safety features that qualify you for discounts on auto or homeowner’s insurance, such as automatic seat belts or air bags in your car, smoke detectors in your home, etc. Non-smokers or non-drinkers can often get additional discounts. Potential Money Savings: $50-100/yr.
- If you drive an older car, consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage (don’t drop liability coverage). Collision coverage is required if you have a car loan, but for older cars that you own free and clear, weigh the car‘s book value (what the insurance company would pay you if the car was totaled) against your collision premiums. If your car is over five years old or is worth less than $1000, keeping collision and comprehensive coverage may not be worth what you’re paying in insurance premiums. Potential Money Savings: $100-300/yr.
- Before buying a new car, ask your insurance agent whether the model you are considering will require a surcharge due to higher theft, damage or repair costs. Potential Money Savings: $50-200/yr.
- Shop around for insurance. If you’re getting good service from your company and are happy with the rates, you may want to stay with them, especially if you have had accidents or tickets. But if your record is good, shop around to see how much you can save, then decide if the savings are worth the switch. Potential Money Savings: $50-200/yr.
- Consider combining your auto and homeowner’s insurance under one policy. Many insurers give a discount for multiple policies. Potential Money Savings: $50-200/yr.
- If you have a high school or college student under 25-years old in your household, ask about the good student discount for auto insurance. If your student qualifies, you could save 25%. Potential Money Savings: $125/yr.
- Avoid tickets for speeding or moving violations. Many insurance companies give a discount of up to 20% if you have not had an accident or ticket for three years or more. Potential Money Savings: $100/yr or more.
SAVE MONEY DRIVING
- Car pool to work. By sharing the driving with just one other person, you could save an average of $20/month or $200/year in gasoline alone, if your commute is 20 miles round-trip each day. Sharing the driving with two others increases your savings even more. Savings vary depending on the length of your commute. In addition to savings on gasoline, you’ll save maintenance costs and wear and tear on your car. Potential Money Savings: $400-700/yr.
- Another benefit to car pooling is that it reduces the annual mileage on your car. Since this reduces the risk of accident, your insurance company charges you less for your coverage. Potential Money Savings: $25-50/yr.
- Wasteful driving habits can double your fuel consumption. Develop gas-saving habits, such as: (1) always accelerate gently; (2) watch traffic ahead of you so you can anticipate slow-downs and avoid stops; (3)coast up to traffic jams by lifting your foot off the gas pedal instead of approaching at full speed and slamming on the brakes. It takes 20% more gas to accelerate to normal speed from a full stop than it does from four or five miles per hour; (4) don’t drive too fast or too slow. It takes 20% to 30% more gas to drive at 70 mph than 50 mph; (5) maintain a steady speed on the highway. Avoid getting stuck behind slow cars where you have to slow down to their pace and then speed up to pass. Potential Money Savings: $390/yr.
- Don’t warm your car up by letting it idle. The engine warms up faster when driving than it does when idling, and idling wastes about a quart of gas every 15 minutes. Potential Money Savings: $90/yr.
Save fuel by combining errands into one trip and avoid backtracking whenever possible. Potential Money Savings: $25-100/yr.
Maintaining a car can become a very expensive duty, both in the short and long run. With inflation and gas prices skyrocketing, it becomes harder to make ends meet, and has many of us wondering where all our money is being spent.
Saving money on your driving experience doesn’t necessarily entail buying a $20,000 car instead of a $30,000 one. Obviously this would help your bottom line, but rather than lowering your standards in your choice of car, try shaving a few dollars off of every car-related expense so that you end up with a manageable bill at the end of the year. Follow these simple money-saving tips, and start saving your money for vacations and a bigger entertainment system.
Save money from the start
The first step is to save money on the purchase or lease price of your vehicle. Since buying and leasing prices vary greatly from one dealer to another, it’s critical to shop around and find the best deal. Compare (for an equivalent car), find the best basic rate, and try to land a special package or deal if you can.
Many dealers also offer insurance and waiver options, which are usually covered in your regular insurance coverage, so make sure to double-check both policies to avoid paying twice for the same plan.
Furthermore, you can easily save a few thousand dollars over the lifespan of your car simply by looking for a low purchase price and/or low financing rates. Another way to save money during the lifetime of your car is by evaluating your car‘s specs, such as its fuel efficiency and the cost of repairs. Choosing a car with cheaper parts and more economical fuel consumption will save you a lot of money over the years.
Comparison shopping is key
When it comes to your car purchase, make sure you do some heavy comparison shopping. Call and visit at least five dealers for price quotes, and let them know that you are calling the competition. The same applies to insurance; shop around and negotiate to find the best possible price. You will end up saving loads of money by knocking up to several hundred dollars off your insurance premium and car payments.
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you are aware of all the details and costs involved in the purchase of your automobile because once you’ve signed the contract, you’re liable for the car — whether you like it or not.
Avoid speeding and parking tickets
The adrenaline rush felt when speeding down the highway is one of the many pleasures of driving, but it comes at a high price. Slow down and avoid paying traffic tickets because they are money thrown out the window.
Also, make sure you read the parking signs and remember to feed the meter before your time expires. As obvious as it seems, most of us still waste a lot of money through negligence.
Use gas sparingly
Controlling your passion for speed also means you should control your acceleration habits. Every time you rev the engine, your gas consumption increases drastically. If you’re the type to pass everybody and boost your RPM to the red zone every time you step on the gas, think twice because it can decrease your fuel economy by as much as two miles per gallon. That’s quite a bit of gas over the course of a year.
Another way to save on fuel costs is to make sure you are pumping gas yourself and that you’re using the lowest octane called for in your owner’s manual. Combine cheaper fuel with proper tire pressure and a well-tuned engine, and you can easily save a few hundred dollars a year on your gas expenditures.
Here are a few more ways to save money on your car:
Make sure you turn off your engine when your car is idle for long periods of time.
If you’re driving a manual car, try leaving it on neutral when going down a hill, but be careful and make sure there is plenty of room between your car and the one in front and check your local laws to see if this is legal. Remember to also put it on neutral when you’re waiting at a red light.
Be aware of gas prices: The high competition among gas stations can make prices fluctuate from one place to another. Saving a few cents each time you fill her up will pay off come the end of the year.
MORE MONEY – SAVING TIPS
Another great way to save money on your car expenses is by making sure that all the accessories your car needs are purchased at the lowest price possible. Buy in bulk and look for bargains for each of these car-related products:
Windshield washer blades and fluid
Products to wash your car
Winter tires and snow broom (when needed)
driving prices down
Shaving pennies off all your car-related expenses may seem a little extreme, but once you add them up, you’ll discover that you’re making some hefty savings. Remember: Don’t become obsessed with prices and with getting the best deal on every item, but make sure you shop around and use your negotiation skills when needed.