For most people in the United States, owning an automobile is a need. Public transit is not readily available, and urban sprawl ensures that the places you need to go are likely a significant distance away. At the same time, it is no secret that cars can be money pits. Here are some ways to lower the costs associated with owning a car.
Get Better Loan Terms
You might be able to find a better deal on your auto loan than what you got when you purchased the car. Look into refinancing it. There are two ways this can save you money, and the type you choose is up to you. If you need more cash in hand each month, you might be able to find a lower interest rate with another company. This will, in turn, lower your monthly payments and the total amount that you will end up paying on the car. You can also find a loan that allows you to pay off your car sooner. This will raise your monthly payments, but a shorter-term means money saved in the long run.
Take it in for Maintenance
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes you have to spend money to save money. Regular maintenance minimizes the risk of major repairs down the road. It also keeps your car running smoothly, which gives you better gas mileage. Follow the recommendations included in your owner’s manual, but most cars have a similar list of general maintenance needs. This includes regular oil changes, fluid replacements, new filters, alignment checks, and tire rotations, among other things. Being meticulous about maintenance will extend the life of the car and save you money.
Learn to Make Minor Repairs
You can save a great deal of money by learning to make minor repairs yourself. Some of the most common car troubles are ones that you can fix on your own. All you need is the right tools and a good online tutorial. Some things that you should be able to learn how to do are replacing worn down brake pads, changing a drained battery, replacing windshield wiper blades, changing out the lights, performing routine oil changes and coolant replacement, trading out spark plugs, and more. While you will still have to pay for the parts, you will be saving a lot of money on labor costs.
Make it More Efficient
There are simple ways to keep your car running more efficiently. Both the condition of your car and the choices you make as a driver can have a major impact. Some things you can do to your car to help it be more efficient are to check the tire pressure monthly and adjust when needed, keep your tires aligned, use the type of oil suggested in your owner’s manual, run the air conditioning less, and change out dirty air filters. Some steps you can take as a driver to increase your fuel efficiency include driving more slowly, never idling the car for longer than a minute, parking in the shade, and running your daily errands in one longer excursion, as opposed to taking many smaller trips. You also might want to consider getting your windows tinted. Window tinting can block 98% of solar heat, making your car more efficient to keep cool.
Stop Buying Premium Gasoline
Unless premium fuel is required for your car, you can save money by purchasing regular gas. In the past, only premium gasoline had the necessary additives to make them cleaner and more efficient. Now, most brands of regular unleaded gasoline feature the same inclusions. Additionally, modern cars are generally made to handle lower-octane gasoline. Historically, some cars were not able to deal with the engine knock that would occur with lower-grade gasoline. Now, most new car engines have built-in control systems that limit knocking. Again, it is important that you follow the manufacturer's directions and use premium fuel if it is required for your car. But if not, your car will perform just fine with regular unleaded, and that means money in your pocket.
Lower Your Car Insurance Rates
It is possible to lower your car insurance rate. Start by calling your insurance company to find out if they have any discounts. Some insurers offer savings to people with a good driving record, to people who take a defensive driving course, if you have reached a certain age, and if you have taken steps to improve your credit scores. If there is nothing for you there, feel free to shop around. You may have chosen a car insurance company without comparing prices, and there could be some less expensive options. Additionally, you can probably drop some of your coverage if your car is older and low in value. It is definitely worth looking into.
Pay it Off
The sooner you can pay your car off, the less it will cost you in the end. If you have some extra cash flowing in, consider using it to pay off your car. You can do this by paying larger lump sums when you get them, or you can add a little bit to your loan payment each month.
Make Insurance Claims Wisely
You don’t have to make a claim to your insurance for every fender-bender or minor bump. You raise your premium significantly whenever you make a claim, especially if you are at fault. Consider paying out of pocket for minor accidents where there are no injuries. Most motorists will be happy to work with you directly. Even if you aren’t at fault, it is a good idea not to make a claim for small repairs. Work with the other driver or, if necessary, pay for any repairs yourself.
You don’t have to break the bank to keep up with a car. There are many ways to save money, and wise consumers take advantage of all of them. By following these tips, you can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year on auto expenses.
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