Owning a car can be a significant ongoing expense. On top of monthly payments, you’re shelling out cash for insurance, gas, regular maintenance and the occasional unexpected repair or traffic ticket. With a little bit of research, though, there are lots of ways you can save money on your car expenses.
- Pay your insurance annually. Some insurance companies will give you the option to pay your premium in one lump sum at the beginning of the year, rather than in monthly installments. Yes, it means you’ll need to have your entire year’s worth of payments ready upfront, but it often comes with a discount that means you’ll pay less overall.
- Raise your deductible. This easy tip could save you between five and 10 percent on your car insurance. The deductible refers to how much money you are committed to paying when you submit an insurance claim. By raising your deductible, you’re agreeing to pay more if you make a claim, and often your insurance company will lower your premium (the amount that you’re paying for your insurance on a monthly or yearly basis). This is a good option if you have money saved in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
- Carpool. If you drive into work, carpooling could decrease your car trips by almost 60 percent. You’ll save money by sharing the cost of gas, and splitting the driving time between multiple cars will also help you prevent wear and tear, meaning less trips to the mechanic. As an added bonus, you’ll get a break from driving and a chance to catch up with friends.
- Don’t pay for premium gas. Unless your car’s manual says differently, you don’t need to be filling your tank with premium gas. Using regular gas can save you between 20 to 40 cents a gallon. If you think that premium gas will improve your fuel economy, there are other things you can do to get the better gas mileage, such as driving at a steady pace (since accelerating and braking burn more fuel) and limiting the amount of time your car spends idling.
- Shop around. Whether you’re looking to buy a car, choose an insurance provider or find a mechanic, don’t settle for the first deal that comes your way. When it comes to insurance, different companies will offer different prices for the same car – so you’ll want to compare a few options. For repairs, you might find an independent mechanic that you trust, and who offers lower prices than your dealer. The extra time you spend doing research and comparing quotes can save you money in the long run.
- Keep your car properly tuned. But wait – regular maintenance costs money, and you’re looking to save money, right? True, you’ll have to budget for routine maintenance, such as oil changes, but keeping your car in tip top shape improves fuel economy and prevents bigger and more expenses problems in the future. Check your car’s manual for its suggested maintenance schedule and compare quotes to find a cost-effective mechanic that you trust.
- Save money on repairs. Another way to save money, but keep up with your car’s regular and much-needed maintenance, is to learn how to do some of the work yourself. From replacing your air filter to cleaning your headlights, there are many small repairs that, with a little research, you should be able to do yourself.
- Drive safely. This one is a no-brainer when it comes to your personal health and well-being, but it is also an important way you can save money. Being pulled over can have consequences beyond the cost of a ticket; you also run the risk of racking up demerit points that will raise your insurance premium. And while in many places demerit points stay on your driving record for two years, they often impact your insurance for three years. In addition to avoiding fines, you’ll lower your risk of a collision – and the chance of having to pay that higher deductible you chose to lower your insurance premium.
These small changes could have a big impact on the amount of money you’re spending on your car – freeing up some cash to save for your next set of wheels or plan a well-deserved road trip.