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Are you spending far too much money on your car? Here are just some of the main running costs that every car owner has to deal with and how you can save money on each of them.
Unless you’ve got an electric car, you’ll likely spend a lot of money on fuel. With gas prices constantly going up, this is becoming a progressively bigger expense for drivers. However, there are a few simple ways in which you can save money:
This is obvious, but worth noting. There are lots of short trips that many of us take throughout the week that could be replaced by walking or cycling. Even taking public transport could save costs in some cases. It may not be as quick as getting in the car, but you’ll save money and you’ll get in some exercise.
Every gas station has its own prices. Using an app like GasBuddy, you can quickly hunt for the cheapest gas prices in your area. You may only save a few cents but these savings will eventually add up.
If you regularly drive with a roof box on, removing the roof box could cause you to save as much as 20% fuel. This is because the car will be more aerodynamic and lighter, resulting in the engine not having to work as hard. The same goes for removing any other accessories or contents that may be affecting aerodynamics or adding unnecessary weight.
More revs mean more gas been guzzled. If you’ve got a manual car, be careful of using too low a gear. The further the pedal is to the metal and the louder your engine is, the more revs you’re producing and the more fuel you’re using. Speeding also uses lots of revs, so consider lowering that speed to help lower your costs.
Underinflated tires could also have an impact on your fuel consumption. Check your tire pressures regularly to ensure that they’re not too low. Recommended tire pressures depend on the vehicle - you can usually find this information in your vehicle’s handbook.
Auto insurance is another big driving cost. You can’t drive a car without it and yet those of us that are lucky enough to never be in an accident never actually need it. You’ll hear lots of tricks on how to lower your premiums. Here are some of the most effective ways to save money.
Sticking with the same insurer can allow you to build up a no-claims bonus. But shopping around can still sometimes be cheaper. Some insurers offer discounts to new customers. You can use brokers and comparison sites to compare deals.
Many insurers offer cheaper packages for combining auto insurance and home insurance together. It can also be easy to keep track of your insurance by having one scheme instead of two schemes from two different insurers.
Having multiple drivers on one insurance policy can also sometimes knock the price down. This depends on how long you’ve been driving - it may not have much effect if you put yourself as the main driver and have only been driving a year, but if you’ve got lots of years experience you could find that the price is reduced.
Taking an advanced defensive driving course could help to lower your premiums. You’ll be viewed by insurers as a lower risk and therefore they won’t charge you as much. You will have to pay for these courses, but the discounts gained from this course over the years will make it worthwhile.
A single annual payment tends to be the equivalent of eleven monthly payments, so you’re basically getting one month’s worth of insurance free when paying annually. The reason so many people prefer to pay monthly is because they simply don’t have the funds to pay their insurance in one large sum. The best way to afford these annual payments is to save up monthly as if you were paying insurance monthly.
The best insurance coverage isn’t always the cheapest. You can save money by doing away with certain protection such as breakdown cover and even fire and theft. However, in a disaster, these are the types of cover you’ll wish you took out. Besides, the reductions in your rates are likely to be marginal compared to some of the other steps you can take to lower your insurance.
Another big cost of owning a car is maintenance. This includes servicing, repairs and general topping up of fluids. Certain cars are likely to require a lot more maintenance than others (namely, older cars). Here are just a few tricks to save money on your car’s maintenance.
When it comes to repairs, you can usually save money by shopping around repair centres in your area. Once you know the problem, you can usually get quotes of the phone. Don’t be afraid to negotiate pricing as you may be able to lower it further. Make sure to also read reviews of repair centers so that you’re visiting somewhere reputable. You don’t want to end up with a costly botch job from cheap but unreliable repair center.
If parts need to be ordered in, don’t let mechanics source these parts. Mechanics will aim to make a profit on any parts they order in. You’ll save money sourcing your own parts – there are lots of places online to shop for car parts. Used car parts will save you money, but these could wear out more quickly.
While you should leave most mechanical work to the pros (particularly anything that involves electrics), there are a few easy DIY jobs that you can save money on. This could include replacing worn windshield wipers, replacing headlights and even replacing brake pads. There are lots of Youtube videos online that you can use to walk you through these repairs. If it looks to complicated, don’t attempt it.
If repairs are too expensive, you may be better off getting a new car. Use the 50% rule - if repairs cost more than half the cost of replacing the car, scrapping your vehicle for cash could be a more sensible move. Also consider the age of the car and the mileage - if you’re constantly having to make repairs and the car is older than 15 years with over 100,000 miles on the clock, it could be a sign that the vehicle is on it’s way out.
If your car is on finance, this could be another monthly cost to keep track of. It’s much cheaper in the long run to buy a car in cash as you don’t have to worry about interest rates. However, if it’s too late for this, there are options to lower these costs.
If interest rates have got out of control, you may be able to pay off your entire finance scheme with a new loan at a smaller interest rate. Fixed-term loans are worth going for as you don’t have to worry about fluctuating interest rates each month, making it easier to budget.
If you’ve been good at paying up all your finance bills until now, you could be in luck. Many finance lenders may be willing to lower your interest rates if you’ve been a good customer - all you need to do is ask. Telling a lender that you’ve found a better deal can sometimes spur them to come up with better rates.
Parking is also an expense that can add up. Free parking isn’t always easy to find (especially in heavily urban areas) and you may have to look around to find the cheapest rates. There are apps like JustPark that can help you to find cheap parking in your area.
Recently many people have started renting out their driveways as a cheap alternative to public parking. When it comes to busy urban areas, it could also be worth parking away from the hub and walking in - the further you get away from these areas, the more free parking you’re likely to find.
Founder | Contributor
Liz is a wife, mom, blogger, coder (and unabashed digital nerd), PhD student (and huge psychology geek), workout masochist, and occasional human being. She founded The Stay Sane Mom after marrying into the role of stepmom to a preteen girl (and Instagram addict) and shortly thereafter having her first bio kid (now a toddlernado supreme). Her goal is to provide tools and support to help other capable, sleep-deprived, soul-hungry moms master their domains so they have the time and energy to be more than just 'mom'.
Stay Sane Mom gives support to the over-worked, under-slept, marker-stained, soul-hungry moms of the world, so they can be more than just "mom".
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