One of your biggest purchases in life, apart from a home, is likely a car.
One of the biggest factors to consider when choosing your car is the cost of upkeep. Depending on your car, items like oil, tires, and even gas can end up costing a lot.
Even if you paid in full, the cost of your car doesn’t end once you drive it off the lot, or when you pay off the loan. Besides the cost of gas alone, your car requires insurance, maintaining, and eventually, repairs. Even if you’re prepared for various vehicle expenses and have included them within your budget, the price of maintaining your car can add up to a lot over the years.
Thankfully, there are ways to save on many of those required costs. Here are eight tips to help you save on common car expenses.
1. Change Your Oil
Changing your oil every 3,000 miles is one of the key ways to ensure that your car continues to run smoothly. What may seem like a bit of a pain and expense every now and then, will extend your engine life and save you from more expensive repairs in the future. Moreover, be careful of what oil you put in your car. Although you might be able to find a cheaper alternative, if your car’s manufacturer has a recommended grade, it’s often wiser and in your best interest financially to use the correct oil.
2. Keep Your Tires Inflated
This one is especially important when it’s cold outside. Ensuring your tires are at the proper PSI can save you from having to purchase new tires more often than you’d like. Check your owner manual for the correct tire pressure for your car and invest in a tire gauge. Check the pressure of your tires once a month and be sure to re-inflate them in a timely manner if they do appear low. Furthermore, be careful about going on your car’s PSI monitoring system alone, as these sometimes wait too long to alert you of a pressure loss.
3. Review Your Insurance Needs
Like with your other insurance policies, it’s important to shop around before deciding on a car insurer. By shopping around and receiving multiple quotes, you’ll more likely than not save a fair amount than if you’d gone with your first pick. Of course, after signing up with an insurance provider, be sure to review your policy every year to make sure it still fits you and your car and that you’re not paying for any extraneous items.
4. Don’t Purchase Dealer Products
When you go to purchase your car, you’ll likely notice the many amenities and products you can add-on. Even if you’d like to include accessories like different wheels, roof racks, speakers, or possibly even a navigation system, it might be wise to hold off on buying these through the dealer. They tend to be much more expensive to add on initially, and you can often save money by buying after-market products or using another source.
5. Buy Within Your Budget
The make and model of car you buy has a big impact on how much you’ll spend maintaining the car as well. Higher-end cars simply cost more to maintain. Their oil, brake pads, tires, and every other item you can think of, costs more than if you’d purchased a low or mid-range vehicle.
Moreover, they may also cost more in insurance, especially if they’re considered a sport model. Decide ahead of time what you can afford to spend on your car costs and expenses. If keeping up with a Mini Cooper or Lexus is too much for your budget, you’ll be happier and save in the long run.
6. Learn to Maintain It Yourself
Anytime you take your car in, whether it’s to the dealer or another auto shop, you’re not only going to pay for any repairs, but for cost of labor as well. While you obviously can’t do all your own repairs, unless you happen to be a mechanic of course, there are a few repairs you can learn in order to save money.
Changing your oil and battery (sometimes depending on the car) or checking your tires and their PSI are all simple tasks, that upon learning yourself, can save you hundreds of dollars. That being said, if it’s not a simple fix, you’re much better off taking it in.
7. Drive Wisely
At the risk of sounding like a scolding parent, driving wisely, and safely for that matter can end up saving you hundreds of dollars as well. Habits like constantly driving far above the speed limit, accelerating quickly and braking hard, only serve to wear your car, brakes, and tires down faster.
Moreover, by consistently driving your car to its limits, you’ll also use up more gas and therefore spend more on that each month as well. Another wasteful driving habit is letting your car idle for an extended period, especially to warm it up. You’ll only waste gas by doing so, and oddly enough, your car actually warms up quicker while driving.
8. Keep a Schedule
Cars take upkeep, it’s as simple as that, but by keeping a schedule of how often your car needs maintenance will help you financially. Check your owner’s manual and keep a record of how often you need to take your car into the dealership for various items. By doing so, you’ll know exactly what your car needs and when, and be able to resist any additional, extraneous maintenance proposed by the dealer.
There’s no way around your car’s expenses. If you want to keep it running well and save yourself from major repairs in the future, you’ll have to pay to maintain it in the first place. Nonetheless, there are practices you can start and small adjustments you can make daily that can help you save on those expenses. Through a little research and wise driving decisions, your car’s costs don’t have to take up so much of your budget.