Buying – and running – a car is expensive, but it doesn’t have to leave you eating instant ramen for the next few years. While there are a lot of expenses that come with owning a car, like gas and insurance, there are also ways to shave down on these costs. Here are my top ten vehicle money-saving tips:
1. Save on gas
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drive like you’re in a “Fast and Furious” movie, right? Aggressively braking and accelerating really does eat into your gas. If you’re stuck in traffic often, something as simple as turning off your engine while you wait, or trying to drive less by using public transportation a few times per week, can save you a ton of money (and time!) in the long run.
2. Make use of the apps out there
There are a number of apps out there that tell you the prices of all the gas stations near you – use them to your advantage! GasBuddy is one of the most well-known apps, which uses crowdsourced data. Others include Gas Guru and Dash. Dash also tracks things like your fuel efficiency, too!
Other apps like Repair P , Car Minder and the Metromile smart driving app can help keep your car in tip top shape. Repair Pal offers free estimates on car repairs and can help you find a local repair shop. Car Minder makes car maintenance easy with service reminders; the app also logs all service and repairs. Metromile’s smart driving app tracks your trip data, offers street sweeping alerts in select cities and can function as a vehicle health decoder – meaning no more pesky trips to the mechanic just to be told your tire pressure was low.
3. Take up a side hustle
Who can say no to a little bit of extra money coming in on the side? Side hustles are becoming popular, and for good reason. It can be anything from tutoring students, freelancing on sites like upwork or TaskRabbit, or even renting out a spare bedroom through sites like VRBO or AirBnB. If animals are more your thing, sites like Rover and Wag let you sign up to walk or watch fluffy companions for some extra cash. Putting that money toward your car will take a serious load off.
4. Opt for pay-per-mile insurance
Expensive insurance is a complete waste if you only use your car for short drives. Select a policy that is suited to how you use your car for huge money savings. Metromile, for example, caters perfectly to low-mileage drivers with pay-per-mile coverage that saves drivers an average of $500 per year!
5. Rotate your tires
Did you know that rotating your tires will make them last longer? A new tire is going to set you back around $80 – minimum – and that’s not even looking at the other three you’ll need! You want them to last as long as possible, right? Right.
Front tires tend to wear down faster than back ones, and sometimes one side will be worse than the other. All you need to do is switch them around to even out the wear. Your owner’s manual should have the recommended tire rotation schedule, but it’s generally around 5,000 miles. You can do it yourself to really save money, or add it on during a service.
6. See what repairs you can do yourself
Thanks to YouTube, we now have millions of handy videos at our fingertips. Why not give being handy a try? Repairs like changing the battery, brake pads, windshield wipers, or replacing a headlight can be done by yourself. If you’re like me, it’s easier seeing it done in an instructional video than trying to decipher the written word. The Mechanic OC updates his page weekly and offers how-to’s for everything from replacing cracked spark plugs to checking wheel bearings. Forum sites like Reddit and Quora can also be great resources for expert level advice.
7. When buying a car, don’t go for the cheapest one
In the same way that buying cheap clothing means poor quality, buying a low-priced car isn’t always a good option. In the long run, you’ll end up paying more in repairs and may have to replace it after a shorter amount of time. A good quality car should last you at least six years (but hopefully more!).
8. Think hard about new or used
A study we conducted found that when you use an auto loan to buy a used car, you may save only $500 in interest when compared to buying new. This means that, in the long run, buying new may actually stretch your dollar further. Before making any decisions, weigh out the pros and cons of a new car or a used car for you. Everyone’s situation is unique so be sure to make the best financial choice for your wallet.
9. Carpool when you can
Sharing the driving with just one other person ultimately leads to savings. Do you have a colleague that lives close to you? A friend from school? Easy – carpool! Not only can you share gas, but you’ll save on the general wear and tear your car goes through. It’ll also reduce the mileage on your car.
10. Keep up the maintenance!
When your car is running fine, it can be hard to see the need for regular check-ups. However, skipping an oil change or ignoring that minor issue that could’ve been easily solved in one of these tune-ups could end up costing you a whole lot more down the road! Shop around to find a mechanic that won’t put you too much out of pocket.
Jennifer McDermott is the Consumer Advocate at personal finance comparison website finder.com. She has more than 12 years’ experience under her belt, where she’s analyzed consumer trends in the finance, lifestyle and travel industries. Jennifer loves to uncover interesting insights and issues to help people make better decisions with their money.