How to Save Money on Your Car Expenses
Last Updated on October 15, 2022
This is the ultimate guide on how to save money on your car expenses. We all probably overspend in at least one area we cover in this guide. We’re going to take a comprehensive look at how to save money on your car – from buying a car to car maintenance to car insurance. After reading this article and implanting the skills and techniques learned, you will be on your way to saving hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year on your driving costs.
Buckle up, because this is going to be a wild ride (pun intended). Seriously, sit down with a cup of coffee and get ready for some heavy reading. This is a pretty long article. There is a lot more here than your typical Internet article provides. We actually took the time to put together the best book on saving money with your vehicle, bar none. Click on a link below to jump to the section you are most interested in, otherwise, start from the top.
- How to save money when purchasing a vehicle
- How to save money on car maintenance
- How to save money on car repair
- How to save money at the pump (save on gas)
- How to save money by carpooling
- How to save money on your car insurance
Saving money when buying a new/used car
There are countless tips lists when it comes to saving money when buying a new/used car. This is not going to be just another tips list. We’re going to cover a ton of information here. You need a lot more than just a bulleted list of tips if you want to save big.
Saving big money on a car is a lot more than wheeling and dealing and haggling over a few hundred bucks with a salesman. It’s a lot more than phoning up half a dozen dealers trying to find the best existing deal. Let’s look at some less obvious, more proven, ways to save money when buying a new/used car.
#1. Consider a Certified Pre-owned Program
A CPO (certified pre-owned program) is a way to save thousands of dollars on a car model that is almost exactly the one you want. You may be fixated on a particular model new car, but ask yourself this: When did the current version of it come out?
Think about the current model car you want. If you go to the dealership, the brand-new cars will be 2016 models, but the same basic look will have been in use for a couple of years maybe. So, if you get a 2014 car instead, it could have the same platform, features, and styling of the 2016 model. You could save several thousand dollars while still getting basically the same car you wanted. If you could get essentially the same car if you purchase a used vehicle from a couple of years back, doesn’t that make a lot more financial sense? You could save several thousand dollars. The difference between any old car from a used car dealership and going with a certified pre-owned program is that you’ll get a whole lot more by using the latter option. You might be able to get a full reconditioning and a great warranty.
This is true for virtually every car manufacturer nowadays. You can buy gently used models for thousands of dollars less than brand-new models. And, with very few exceptions, the CPO warranty makes it nearly as good as purchasing a brand-new car. Many companies even offer freebies like a trial period of satellite radio, roadside assistance, and free maintenance. Think about how much better that is than just getting the cheapest car at the used car dealership. It also beats by buying a brand-new car. Look, if you’re reading this guide and want to save money on a car, you really don’t have the money to be buying a brand-new car, anyway.
If you’re looking to save big bucks, the CPO program is an excellent place to start. If you like the sound of this idea, consider brands like Lexus, Kia, Honda, Ford, Nissan, Hyundai, and Chevrolet.
#2. Sell Your Car (But Not To a Dealership)
Be wary of dealerships that are all too eager to take your trade-in car as part of the deal. In a lot of cases, trading in your car at the dealership can cost you a lot. You’ll make a lot more money by selling your car to a private individual on the open market. It might be a little more work, and take a little longer, but the upside is that you’ll walk away with a lot more cash in hand.
If you do try to sell it yourself, you’ll need to be patient and spend a lot of time waiting for the perfect buyer. A trade-in is the easiest route, and that’s what dealerships bank on. You can get the agreed-upon value right then and there, with no questions asked. That’s why it’s so tempting to just take your car up to the dealership and ask them what they can take off the cost of a new car. All too many people do that, and the dealership wins big when they do. If you can just be smart and wait a little longer, you can get a lot more cash for your old car.
If you trade in your car out of convenience or ease, you’ll cost yourself hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. Dealers like to low-ball you on the trade-in value, so they can flip the car for a healthy profit because their job is to make as much money as possible selling cars.
However, if you take a patient approach, you can get the full market value for your old car, or very near it. You’ll just have to spend time, effort, and money cleaning up your car and fixing any big issues. Start with an Autotrader or newspaper classified ad.
#3. Think Mid-Level
I know you’re tempted to get the best, most fully loaded model of whichever car you’re interested in. But, are the extras really worth the higher price tag? Before you buy, though, look at the price of the fully-loaded version and compare it to the model line’s base price. In a lot of cases, the one with all the extras will cost 50% more than the pared-down one. Are all those fancy gadgets really worth that dough? You could probably get the base model of a much nicer car for the same price.
So, go after a mid-level specification of the one you’ve got your heart set on. A top-of-the-line model could cost you $5,000 or $10,000 more.
#4. Purchase From Dealer Stock
Purchasing a car from dealer stock usually requires a little flexibility, because you’ll be picking from what the dealer ordered, instead of buying exactly what you want. But on the other hand, the dealer has a big incentive to move the current inventory out. Special orders can be a pain in the rear end. What am I saying here? There’s usually a lot more wiggle room on models that are already on the lot ready to be sold. So if you’re thinking about placing a special order, take a hard look ahead of time at existing inventory among all the dealerships close by to see if there’s anything. You might even take a look at more remote dealerships with long-distance delivery options. You could save a lot of money.
#5. Pay Attention to the Fine Print
There are a lot of honest, sincere dealers out there, and they might be able to get you an excellent rate on your loan, maybe even with a great warranty tossed in. But, if you’ve been around the car business for a while, you know that F&I (Finance & Insurance) is where dealers make a good chunk of change.
Remember, you’ve got to be a tough, smart shopper. You’ve got to be well-informed and pay close attention to what the dealer is offering you.
It’s ok to listen to what the dealership is willing to offer you, but you should have a backup plan with your own options for financing your car. You’ve got to read all the fine print on any warranty that is put before you. There are a lot of good deals out there, but it’s also really easy to get ripped off, and that’s even truer if you’ve negotiated your way to a great deal up to that point. It’s a smart idea to have your own financing set up before you ever visit the dealership. The dealer will have some great offers available, like 0% financing and factory rebates. But, you have to have great credit to qualify.
#6. Bargain Online
You’ve got to show up in person to test drive a car, but you can negotiate the cost and financing online. You can even have the car sent to your home or office and sign all the paperwork right then and there.
You’ll save in a number of ways. Firstly, most salespeople online receive a salary and get extra bonuses based on the volume they sell rather than commissions based on the price of the car. So, they’ll be incentivized to give you an awesome price to move the car out. You can save $1,000 or $2,000 when you bargain online.
The other thing you save on is the financing and insurance (we mentioned that above). If you can sidestep the financing and insurance office, you can avoid the push for add-ons and extra fees, which could negate whatever excellent deal you negotiated online, or in the showroom.
Smart shoppers can save a lot of money if they know the car business. If you take the time to understand these tips when you’re purchasing a car, you’ll likely have a lot more cash after the transaction is completed.
You can also shop and negotiate whenever it’s good for you. You don’t have to waste time sitting in a crummy plastic chair while your salesman “fights” his manager to get you a better deal.
#7. Make the Dealers Compete With Each Other
The idea here is to get a bidding war started for your business. Once you’ve pinned down the make and model you like, get in touch with several dealers online, and tell them what you’re looking to buy. Then, just ask them what their best price is. Make it clear to them you’re talking to other dealerships in the area and will give the sale to whoever gives you the best price.
You want to get them haggling over you. This changes the whole dynamic.
Do your utmost to make it a true comparison. You’ve got to be very clear and specific about the car you want. Go into detail with the color choices, extras, options, etc.
You’ve also got to be clear on what is included with that price. You don’t want a lot of fees added on later.
If you really want to see how low they can go, email several dealers. After you get several quotes on the exact same car, the very lowest is the best you’re going to get.
#8. Come Prepared With Your Own Financing
BYOF (bring your own financing) is a smart buying strategy. It’s simple really. Come preapproved for your car loan before you ever start looking for a car. Go to a number of banks and credit unions and find out which one will give you the best deal.
#9. Negotiate the Car Price First
Car deals have a lot of different elements these days: the car’s price, the trade-in credit, the rate of financing, and the incentives are all part of it. Try and keep all the different parts separate. To make the best deal possible, focus on just a single element at a time, beginning with getting the best price on your car. Only after you settle in on that should you start talking about incentives that would be taken off the negotiated price, or the trade-in, or the financing. The thing you don’t want to happen is that the money you save on one part of the deal is added somewhere else.
#10. Understand That Everything is Negotiable
A lot of times, add-on fees are preprinted on the sales contracts. The message is clear: This cost is fixed and can’t be negotiated.
That’s not true, though. The truth is that everything is negotiable, and smart people know it. Preprinted numbers can just be crossed out, or an equivalent amount can be taken off elsewhere on the sales form.
Saving money on car maintenance
Even as cars improve to require less care less often, maintenance and upkeep can still hit your bank account hard. We’re going to list some easy, smart tips that will help keep you on the road for less.
#1. Try Out Regular Fuel
Even if your owner’s manual says premium fuel is ideal – or even necessary – there aren’t many cars that really need it. Most late-model vehicles can just adjust to the fuel change because engines now come stock with knock sensors, which will adjust the timing of the engine automatically when they spot uncontrolled burning – a sure sign of “pinging” – and prevent any damage to the engine. You may have a slight reduction in power and fuel economy, but even the loss of mileage won’t come anywhere close to the difference between premium and regular.
There is one exception, though. If you have a car that is turbo- or supercharged, and it outlines the need for super, pay attention to the manual. And by the way, you’re not doing yourself or your car any good by putting premium fuel in a car that runs on regular.
#2. Don’t Change the Oil Too Often
Your grandpa may have changed his oil every 2-3,000 miles, but cars are a lot different now. Oils have evolved, and engines have as well. No one really says to change your oil every 3,000 miles anymore. Just follow the owner’s manual and ignore sales pitches from service managers and ad campaigns.
Your owner’s manual may direct you to pay attention to the electronic oil-use sensor on your dashboard, rather than a specific mileage. Don’t misunderstand. It is critical that you change your oil regularly, but doing so more often than your car’s manufacturer recommends doesn’t do any good.
#3. Find an Affordable, Local, Loyal, and Trustworthy Mechanic and Give Him Good Business
Too many people jump from shop to shop, service to service, and they end up spending way more than they should on big repairs. Let’s take a look at a better strategy. Find a repair shop manager in the local area you trust, make it clear you’re giving him good business, get to know him on a personal level, and be friendly. A bond like this can end up saving you a lot of money over time. You can get a lot of good deals and savings that add up to a big amount over time.
#4. Think About Going to a Warehouse Store For Your Tires
Don’t worry – you don’t have to buy in bulk. Sam’s Club, Costco, and others sell tires, and they will even mount them for you, too. You’ll be able to take advantage of your club’s guaranteed satisfaction policy, as well. That’s on top of the warranties the tire makers might give you. At a warehouse club, the installation costs might include services you’d usually pay extra for somewhere else like flat repair, rotation, and lifetime balancing. Make sure you look at the official website of your club ahead of time. Sometimes the clubs don’t have anything beyond the most common sizes – but they’ll be able to order you just about anything you need.
#5. Don’t Ignore the Oil Light
If you see the oil light come on, don’t ignore it. You should pull over as soon as possible and shut off the engine.
It’s definitely possible that the light turned on because of an oil-change interval or oil level problem, but if it’s the oil-pressure light, you need to act fast. You need to take action in minutes, or even seconds, to keep your engine from destruction.
Once you’re stopped safely on the side of the road, look at the owner’s manual and go to the “oil” section to see what kind of problem you have. It might just be an oil change warning, and you can head on to your destination if that’s the case. But, if the problem has to do with oil pressure, you could have a major problem and will probably need a tow.
#6. Do Preventive Maintenance
One smart way to test a shop you believe is good is to go in when you need an oil filter and oil change. That is a very smart preventive maintenance step. It also gives you an opportunity to ask more questions and figure out how good the shop is.
If you get an estimate for a big list of added services, make sure they can prove it is a list for your car and that it aligns with the mileage currently on your vehicle.
If you can’t afford it right then and there, ask which are the most important items to take care of and figure out what you can afford. Then, draw up a budget and goal for the other stuff. Also, ask a car-savvy friend what he thinks about the estimate before you go back to the shop.
#7. Know What Your Vehicle Needs and When
The owner’s manual can tell you a lot about what your car actually needs to function optimally. For example, a new car can go maybe 100,000 miles before it needs a transmission flush. A dealership or service shop will often recommend a laundry list of things they recommend, but which your car might not actually need. They make a nice profit when you get them handled, though. Being astute about what and when your car needs something will save you hundreds of dollars per year.
#8. Handle Easy Repairs Yourself
There are a lot of things you can do yourself, but you might avoid them because you think you’re “just not a car guy”. Replacing your wiper blades, lights, and more is easy peasy. You end up paying a lot on the labor costs if you get every small thing fixed by a professional. There are YouTube videos that show you how to do just about everything. You just need to be patient, pay attention, and apply what you learn.
If you follow the tips outlined here, you’ll save a lot on car maintenance over the life of your car. There’s no reason you should waste several thousand dollars that could be better spent on more tangible things of greater value to your life.
Saving money on car repair
We all dread taking our car into the repair shop, don’t we? We never know what the bill is going to be. This section will aim to help you save money on car repair. Car repair can put a big dent in your wallet. The worst part is that it’s often unexpected. A repair can be a costly, time-intensive hassle, and no one wants to do it. Even though it’s terrible, it doesn’t have to be as bad as you’re used to. We’re going to outline some key ways to save as much cash as possible on your car repairs, and hopefully make the whole repair process go a whole lot smoother.
Whether it’s just working with shop owners who try to upsell you a laundry list of recommended items, the toll on your bank account, or not having your only means of getting to work, car repair can be almost as dreaded as a dentist visit. Of course, you’ll have to go at some point, and it doesn’t matter how good you are at DIY repair. Let’s look at some key ways you can make the whole process as easy as possible.
#1. Find a Shop You Trust, and Give Them All Your Business
It helps to establish a personal relationship with a shop owner. They’re less likely to upsell you unnecessary services or rip you off. If you find a shop that treats you well, keep going back. They’ll value your repeat business, and they’ll likely give you discounts here and there. If you bounce from one shop to the next over the course of your car’s life, you’re not going to get those relationship-based savings. If the shop owner is kind-hearted, loyal, and trustworthy, reward him with repeat business. Don’t underestimate a small shop. They often know how to save you money better. A big business will have lots of overhead and inflexible ways of doing things.
It doesn’t have to be a mom-and-pop shop. It might be a good local dealership or garage. You can also check them out ahead of time.
You can check them out with the following:
- Is it AAA-approved? Is it a AAA Car Care Center?
- Is it ASE Certified?
- What are the Yelp reviews like?
- Call or visit the place ahead of time.
- Check out review sites and car forums
- Ask around in local Facebook or Reddit groups
- Rely on word-of-mouth referrals from trusted car guys & friends
#2. Don’t Get Unnecessary Maintenance
You don’t have to change your oil every 3,000 miles. That’s an old myth. Actually, it was true at one point. But, it doesn’t apply today. Today’s cars don’t require it. The old rule of thumb just doesn’t apply anymore. Technology advances have made it no longer necessary. Most synthetic motor oils can last for up to a year or more between oil changes.
#3. Do Preventive Maintenance
This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually a smart move. Regular preventive maintenance can help you avoid a big problem down the road (pun intended). Do you do all the recommended maintenance on your car? While it may seem like a hassle, it can help you save a lot later on. Changing your oil regularly (but not too regularly) can help prevent catastrophic engine damage.
#4. Purchase Your Own Parts
You probably shouldn’t purchase your own parts unless you’ve got a car guy friend who can help you with the installation. Of course, there are DIY YouTube videos, but they might be really hard for an amateur or newbie to get a handle on. But, the bottom line is that you can save money on car repairs when you purchase your own parts. The car mechanic or dealership is basically just a middleman. There are a lot of websites, and even Autozone, where you can find cheaper parts than going to a service department. If you’re really looking to save cash, you can head over to your local junkyard and try to find parts for a small fraction of the cost of a new part. Actually, they’ll cost you nothing! Forget fractions. To save the most dough, bring your own tools to pull the parts out of old cars at the junkyard.
#5. Find a Local Mechanic For Side Work
Are you friends with a mechanic? You could save a lot of money on car repairs by giving a mechanic some side work. Sure, he might work at the service shop during the week, but he’s free to do work for you on the weekend. You might be able to find a friend who knows a mechanic who is looking to make a little extra cash. In today’s economy, everyone is looking to make a little extra dough. This can be an excellent opportunity for both you and the mechanic.
#6. Take Your Car to a Tech School
Take your car to a tech school so mechanics-in-training can work on it. The teachers will use your car as a teaching aid for a certain issue. It might not be the ideal thing, but at least you know they’re under the supervision of an expert mechanic. Plus, there are a lot of young mechanics there that you could get to know for side work. They’re probably pretty good at it already if they’re going to school for it. A lot of mechanics know a lot about cars before they ever go to school for it. Think of it like going to the barber school for a free haircut. Your haircut isn’t going to look that bad. It’s like going to culinary school for a free meal. Again, this can be a great place to get to know young mechanics that might want some work on the side.
These six tips should save you thousands of dollars over the life of your car. There’s no reason to pay the most you have to every time you want your car repaired. And, there’s no reason you shouldn’t do preventive maintenance to keep problems from getting too big to afford easily. These tips are just a start, though. Let’s look at some other ways to save money on your car.
Saving money on gas
When gas prices are high, it can seem like the end of the world (at least the end of your budget). When they’re really low, we tend not to worry as much. In any case, we’re going to take a look at how you can save money on gas. There are tons of useful tips & tricks that we’re going to cover. You’ll never spend too much on gas again.
#1. Purchase a Discounted Gas Card
It might not seem like much of a savings – 5-10% – but there are discounted gas cards, and they’re a great option for people who can afford them. For $95, you could get $100 worth of gas. There are websites that sell discounted gas cards for gas stations like Mobil, Shell, and Exxon.
#2. Put Your iPhone to Good Use
There are some great apps that will help you find the cheapest gas in your area. You can also use maps apps on your phone to find the least congested routes so you can avoid wasting gas backtracking and idling on the way to your destination. There are also websites where you can plug in your zip code and see the location of the gas station with the cheapest gas in your vicinity. Smart apps can save you hundreds of dollars. Between finding the cheapest gas, finding alternate routes, and finding carpooling partners, your iPhone is your best friend in achieving the goal of cheaper driving.
#3. Get a Gas Rewards Card
If you drive a ton, it’s probably a good idea for you to acquire a credit card that incentivizes you for buying gas. You do have to be careful, though. Most rewards cards have exorbitant interest rates, so you need to pay off your balance in full each month. Some grocery store chains also offer gas rewards programs. Kroger, Winn-Dixie, and Safeway have gas rewards programs already, and more grocery store chains are adopting them. You can even pass the card around between friends & family so you rack up points faster.
#4. Be Careful of How You Pay
Some gas stations charge more if you pay with a credit card. They have to pay processing fees that the credit card companies charge them, so they pass on the cost to you. So, look for stations where it costs the same to pay with cash as it does with a credit or debit card. You can also just pay with cash. You could lose $.05 per gallon if you pay with a credit card.
You might consider withdrawing cash at the bank just for gas. Keep a wad of bills in your car so you can fill up whenever you need to. This will also encourage you to get gas when you’re a quarter full, versus waiting until the last minute. If you wait until you absolutely have to get gas, you’ll be stuck with whatever gas station is closest to you.
Smart drivers know they’re going to need gas throughout the year, and they don’t try to bend reality by waiting until they’re on E or need help on the side of the road because they ran out of gas. Just plan ahead, and you’ll be a lot better off. If you don’t have much money, consider withdrawing just $100 or so.
#5. Do the Necessary Maintenance
You need to keep your tires full of air and your air filter in good shape because it will help you save. Under-inflated tires can reduce gas mileage and affect braking, handling, and tread life. If you don’t take care of your car, you’ll pay more in gas. They are inextricably linked to one another. When your tires don’t have enough air in them, it just requires more gas to get to where you’re going. Keeping your tires inflated can increase gas mileage 3% and keeping your air filters clean can improve gas mileage 7%. So, you can do a lot to optimize your gas mileage. Even if your car is a gas-guzzling clunker, you can save money by just taking care of this stuff.
#6. Be Very Picky About Where You Fill Up
Avoid that gas station on the side of the road on your trip home. Those convenient stations can charge considerably more per gallon. Check that gas app we mentioned above before filling up just anywhere. Don’t just automatically pick the premium gas, either. Talk to your mechanic about which type of octane gasoline your car’s engine will do best with. Most car engines don’t actually require high-octane gas, but the owner’s manual will usually recommend it.
#7. Don’t Pack Your Car Full of Stuff
This might seem like a no-brainer, but people sometimes leave stuff in their cars and forget about it. Maybe they just moved from one state to another and they’ve yet to unpack, maybe they recently went on a road trip, or maybe their car is just a junk heap of old stuff that they’re too lazy to take inside. Whatever the case, you need to do something about it – and fast! Every 250 pounds of stuff in your takes an extra mile per gallon of gas. Clean your car up and stop wasting money. For every 100 extra pounds you haul around, your car will lose 1-2% in fuel economy.
#8. Strategically Time When You Buy Gas
Most gas station owners up their prices on Thursday at 10 a.m. because they’re expecting increased travel over the weekend. You can’t blame them. They’re just trying to make a profit. They then lower their prices on Monday when the demand isn’t as high. Unless it is a big emergency, don’t buy your gas over the weekend. Gas prices also rise before the holidays, in anticipation of more cars on the road.
#9. Find The Right Type of Gas Station
Some gas stations always offer the lowest prices in the local area. It’s usually grocery stores, wholesale clubs, or department stores that will sell gas at a loss to drive in (pun intended) more business. Of course, this isn’t always the case. We’ve seen that Costco sometimes doesn’t have the cheapest gas. Always check with your gas app to see which station is offering the lowest gas in the area before you go to the wholesale club. “Loss leader” is a term in retailing for a product that is sold at a loss to drive in more business. The idea is to get more customers into the store where they’ll hopefully buy higher-cost, higher-margin products. Some of these stores might even give you some in-store credit when you buy gas from their gas station. If you think about it, that’s another way to save money. If you’d otherwise be paying in cash for the same stuff, you’re saving money right there. So, it’s kind of an indirect savings. Service stations, sometimes with a car repair shop right there, usually have costlier gas.
#10. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Get Gas
If you want until you’re on E, you’ll be limited to the closest gas station – not the least expensive one. Start filling up your tank when it’s a quarter-full so you can make a choice about where you fill up with gas. Know which gas stations in your area have the cheapest gas and stick with them. If you have a warehouse club membership to Costco, get into a routine of filling up with them once weekly. Now, it may not be the cheapest. In that case, get into a routine of filling up somewhere else. You can find out where to get the cheapest gas by downloading an app on your iPhone. Never wait until you absolutely need gas again.
#11. Map Out Your Route With a Special App
A special app like Waze can give you real-time data and take events into account – road closures, traffic delays, and accidents. You don’t want to waste gas taking detours or idling. Download an app like this and figure out how to use it so you can take another route whenever you need to.
#12. Turn Off the A/C
Turning up the A/C can put a big dent in your budget for gas, so think of another way to stay cool if you want to save even more money on gas. Roll down the windows, wear light clothing, and drink cool drinks to stay cool on long drives. Just drive during the cooler parts of the day, and maybe even park the car under the shade of a big tree. You can also buy a sunshade. All of these things can lower the temperature in your car. If you have to use your air conditioning, at least use it as little as possible.
#13. Keep Your Tires Aligned
This falls under the category of routine maintenance. Poor alignment means your tires will wear out more quickly, and it will make your engine do a lot more work. If you keep your tires aligned, you can save 10% or more on gas.
#14. Keep Your Engine Tuned Up
When was the last time you took your engine in for a routine tune-up? A well-maintained engine can boost your mileage by as much as 5%. Again, this falls under the category of routine preventive maintenance.
#15. Is Your Gas Cap in Good Condition?
Did you know that nearly 20% of cars have missing or broken gas caps? What’s the problem? Well, it hurts your fuel economy. It’s also terrible for the environment. If there’s something not right with your gas cap, replace it.
#16. Drive Like a Sane Person
Avoid jerky starting and stopping, errant driving, and idling. Don’t accelerate too quickly. Don’t brake too hard. Drive like you know how to drive. Don’t think it’s that important? You can save almost 66 cents a gallon driving like a sane person.
Just drive sensibly. Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by up to a third. Sensible driving is also a lot safer, so you may save more than just money.
You might consider putting in a driver feedback device. They’ve been shown to improve fuel economy.
#17. Don’t Drive With Your Foot on the Brake Pedal
Driving around with your foot resting on the brake pedal will make your brake pads wear out faster (which will cost you more at the repair shop), and it can massively increase gas consumption. You can save up to 70 cents per gallon by driving with your foot off the gas pedal.
#18. Don’t Let Your Car Idle
Idling burns gas, and it’s also bad for the environment. If you’re stopped for over 30 seconds, just shut off the engine. Don’t “warm-up” your car in the morning, either. It’s totally unnecessary.
#19. Drive the Speed Limit
Every car reaches its best fuel economy at a different speed, but gas mileage usually goes down rapidly when you go over 50 mph. Paying attention to the speed limit is also safer.
#20. Don’t Haul Cargo on the Roof
Hauling cargo on the roof is a bad idea. It will increase your aerodynamic drag and reduce your fuel economy. We talked about removing the excess weight before. This idea is along those same lines.
#21. Commute Smarter
There are a lot of ways to commute smarter. Have you tried carpooling and ride-share programs? You don’t even have to know the people you carpool with. There are plenty of apps and websites available that make it easy to find carpool partners on the way to work. HOV lanes are typically a lot less congested, which will improve your fuel economy even more.
You should also drive your most fuel-efficient car to work. This may seem like common sense, but too many people like to show off their less fuel-efficient car at work or find it more comfortable to drive in. Take the most fuel-efficient car, and you’ll be in better shape.
You should also try to avoid peak rush hour traffic. You’ll spend a lot more time on the road.
#22. Combine Errands & Trips
Combining your errands into a single trip can save you both time and money. Your fuel economy is actually better when the engine is warm. So, a bunch of short, stop-and-start trips can use a lot more fuel than a single, long trip spanning the same distance.
Trip planning can cut down on the amount of time you drive with a cold engine. It can also lessen the distance you have to go.
We’ve tried to cover everything here. Our gas mileage tips should get you a lot further for a lot less. We covered tips under the categories of driving more efficiently, keeping your car in good shape, planning & combining your tips, and more.
Save money by driving less or carpooling
Carpooling isn’t just for kids. Adults should strongly consider carpooling. There are numerous benefits. You can get cheaper auto insurance, save money on gas, help the environment, and enjoy the camaraderie of your co-workers on the drive to work.
When most people think of carpooling, they think back to their time growing up. They remember how they’d get shuffled into cars to be hauled off to sports and extracurricular activities. But, carpooling is great for everyone, not just parents trying to take a bunch of kids to after-school activities. Carpooling can be used for work, concerts, social events, sporting events, and a whole lot more.
Enter the term “commuter carpooling”; it’s a lot different than the carpooling you did as a kid. If you’re sick and tired of wasting time in rush-hour traffic and you’re angry that other people are speeding past you in the carpool lane, then carpooling might be right for you. Why should you waste needless time in stop-and-go traffic?
Commuter carpooling will save you time, money, and frustration. If you’re carpooling, you have access to the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. You avoid the highly congested lanes and instead have a more streamlined and time-efficient commute to work than a solo driver would. The average commuter spends an extra 40 hours in traffic each year. That’s almost two days of your life!
Carpooling can also save you money. We talked about how to save money on gas above, and this is just one more way. If you’re the one driving, you can lower the cost of gas by splitting it with the other people in the car. They’ll be all too glad to chip in if it means a faster ride to work and free time to chill on the way to work. There was one AAA survey that showed more than a third of drivers carpooled to save money on gas.
Some companies will even offer you incentives if you carpool to work. After all, it protects the environment. Green initiatives are common in corporate America. See if you and your co-workers can take advantage of one by carpooling. If you’re already carpooling to save money, you’ll just be rewarded even more. It’s a win-win. The environment wins, too!
If you do commit to carpooling, you could save 40 hours each year. You’ll you’re your much-needed cash, too!
Long commutes are boring, costly, and stressful. You’ll enjoy your trip to work a whole lot more with other people in the car.
The Benefits of Carpooling
#1. Save Money on Gas
Gas prices can fluctuate dramatically. You never know when they’re going to shoot through the roof. Not everyone can afford high gas prices, and it can drive people (pun intended) to carpooling. It can be a real struggle for the average worker to fill up his gas tank. If you carpool with other people to get to where you all need to go, then you can save money on gas by splitting the cost. Instead of everyone filling up his or her tank separately, each person can chip in a little to fill up one tank.
When there are fewer cars on the road, there are fewer accidents. It’s common sense. Many streets and highways have carpool lanes, too. These lanes are faster, safer, and more efficient. Taking a road trip alone can be really dangerous. It’s not advisable. But, if you go with a bunch of pals, you can split the cost of gas and look out for each other. You can also split the cost of hotel rooms.
#3. Help the Environment
The environment is more threatened now than ever before. When there are fewer cars on the road, there are fewer emissions of toxic fumes. Don’t you want to do your part to make the earth a cleaner, greener, and safer place to live for all? If everyone biked, carpooled, and walked, we’d be a lot better off.
#4. Save Money on Tolls & Parking Fees
You can pay out a lot over a year on tolls and parking fees. But, if you’re carpooling with two or three people, those costs will go down dramatically. It all adds up. Toll and parking fees may not seem a lot at first blush, but it takes a toll (pun intended) over the course of a few months or years.
#5. Social Engagement
With all the technology these days, face-to-face communication is rarer than ever before. Carpooling gives you the opportunity to share some real quality time with your friends. Why take a lonely commute all alone if you could share the ride with great people?
#6. Easier & More Efficient Commute
Commute times could go down as traffic congestion goes down with fewer cars out there, so you could get to where you’re going more quickly and spend less time driving because of the carpool.
Don’t feel ashamed about carpooling. Ditch the stereotype that it’s just for kids. There are now countless apps, websites, and tools to help you find carpool partners. You don’t even have to know the people you’re carpooling with. Smart adults recognize the financial, time-saving, and environmental benefits of carpooling. Why not give it a try? Ask some friends at work or download some apps on your iPhone to find some people to try it with. If you want to save time, be safer, and have an easier/faster commute to work, there’s no substitute for carpooling!
Saving money on car insurance
Saving money on car insurance is within your reach. Most people can save hundreds of dollars a year if they just take the process seriously. The sad fact is that the first steps in acquiring auto insurance at a good rate can be so annoying and frustrating that a lot of people just plain ignore them. They set it aside and forget about it. Instead, they should take a proactive, active, and well-informed approach throughout the whole price. You could be losing several hundred dollars a year if you stay active in the process.
While a lot of people think of auto insurance as something that’s pretty fixed, it’s really not. It can be lowered – usually pretty easily – to put more money in your pocket. A lot will be dependent on your driving record, you, your car, and where you live, but there is a lot more you can do to lower your rate.
Let’s look at several ways you might save a lot of money on car insurance.
#1. Shop Around
About 40% of Americans looked for new auto insurance last year, according to a J.D. Power study. Shopping around can save you a lot of money, though. The next time you’re up for renewal, get quotes from at least five companies that are well-reviewed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Shoppers who switch can save almost $400.
Auto insurance rates vary a lot between companies. You might get wildly different price quotes even for identical coverage levels. Get quotes from a full gamut of reputable insurers. Don’t forget the reputable part. It’s not just the price you’re looking at. Look at the company’s reputation and its customer reviews across the web.
#2. Ditch Collision Coverage
Once your car is very old – at least 10 years old – the amount of money you’d have to pony up to repair it could exceed what the car is worth. Getting rid of your collision coverage could save you almost 50%. But, you’ll probably see savings closer to 40%. You can save as much as $500 a year by just retaining property damage and injury coverage.
#3. Bundle Your Policies Together
Insuring your car and home with one company could reduce your rates by roughly 10% a year. A Consumer Reports study found that the average consumer saved about $100 a year by bundling car and home insurance together.
Just think about how much you save at AT&T when you bundle your cable, Internet, and phone together. Companies will give you a discount for throwing more business their way. It just doesn’t make sense to get each type of insurance from a different insurer.
This is referred to as “multi lining” in the auto insurance industry. When you bundle policies within a single insurer, you can stack up your discounts to save money
“Multilining” is where a lot of insurers make their money, instead of just picking up car insurance. They’re willing to give good discounts to pick up additional lines (of insurance). So, when shopping for insurance, make sure you build a smart plan that fits all your needs.
#4. Take Advantage of Special Tools & Programs
Some insurers will offer customers a discount if they install a device that lets them track how well you drive. For example, Progressive gives discounts of up to 30% for drivers who don’t drive erratically. You won’t be penalized if you’re a bad driver. You can save more than $300 a year if you’re a good driver.
These are called usage-based insurance (UBI) programs, and they can save you good money if your driving habits fall in line with what the insurance company thinks is “good driving”. The insurer might get you to plug in a telematics device below your steering wheel, and it will record how well you drive, how much, when, and whether you brake too hard. Braking too hard can actually cause your brake pads to wear out faster, so that’s one more reason to not brake too hard. If you love to drive, drive during the night or often slam on the brakes, a UBI program probably won’t save you much dough. It’s still worth a try, though.
#5. Get a Mileage Discount
There are numerous discounts available. Inquire about them all. If you don’t drive your car all that much, see what they can offer in the way of a mileage discount. If you work at home or use your bike often, some insurance companies will give you a discount if you drive less than a certain number of miles a year. Basically, if you drive less than the average mileage count, you can probably qualify for a discount. If you live on campus and just use your car sparingly – like if you’re a student – you could save some much-needed cash. There are lots of people who just don’t drive all that much for whatever reason, and many of them aren’t taking advantage of the mileage discount. One study showed you that you could save almost 10% if you drove 5,000 miles a year versus 15,000.
#6. Keep on Top of Your Credit Score
Your credit score can have a positive or negative effect on your insurance premiums. That’s just one more reason to maintain a good credit score. Paying all your bills, paying off your credit cards, and taking care of debts will save you money – and not just on your insurance. It’s just a smart financial strategy. One WalletHub study found that there was a 50% difference between the cost of car insurance premiums between someone with superb credit and someone with no credit history. That is a huge difference! So, if you know your credit score is better now than it was before, ask your insurance company for a discount or shop the market for a different policy. If your score is just “good” or “average”, you could pay almost $500 more a year. Maintaining an excellent credit score can save you big money.
Paying your bills on time might not seem like it has anything to do with your driving ability, but car insurance companies figure it in. If you’ve got a good credit report, you should take advantage of it.
A lot of insurers use credit-based insurance scores. It’s a hot-button issue in many state legislatures, but insurers say that studies prove that if you’re a responsible person, you are less likely to file a claim.
There are other ways to get discounts, of course. There are many ways to show you’re a responsible person. For example, senior drivers who complete adult driver safety programs can get reductions in their premiums, while a lot of insurers give discounts to students who have a 3.0 GPA in high school or college.
#7. Hold Off on Letting Your Teenager Drive
A couple might pay 80% more for their insurance after adding a teen driver to the policy. Young people get into accidents. It’s understandable. In their first years on the road, they’re just learning, improving, and modifying their driving behavior. Young people are also more impulsive and foolhardy. They are more likely to engage in dangerous or risky behavior. The car insurance industry knows this very well. That’s why they’ll charge you a lot more for a teen driver than an adult driver. A smart solution is to make your teenager wait to drive. A 16-year-old driver can raise your premium rate by almost 100%, but a 19-year-old will raise it about 60%. Another nice choice is to get him to pay for his own insurance. If he wants to drive, he can work and make money to pay for his own insurance. However, if he is on his own policy, he will pay almost 20% more than he would if he was put on your insurance plan. You’d pay almost $400 more if you added your teen at 16 versus 19. It might not seem like much, but when you add up the savings of all the discounts we’ve mentioned here, you can see how easy it is to reduce your car insurance bill dramatically. It all adds up.
#8. The Good Grade/Student Discount
If your teenager is an excellent student with a positive track record in life, your insurance company may offer a discount. The good student discount can save him or her between 6-20%, which might be enough to offset the cost increase of your teenager being on his own policy. Good grades can save students an average of $250 per year, but the cost savings can go as high as $1,200. That’s one more reason to do well in school – as if getting a great job later in life wasn’t enough!
#9. Don’t File a Claim If It Doesn’t Make Sense
If you file a claim after an accident in which you were at fault, your premium could go up by as much as 40%. So, if it’s a relatively minor accident, consider whether it will be worth the premium increase. You might just want to live with the damage to your car. For small fender-benders that don’t involve damage to yourself or others, you’re probably better paying for the damages yourself. You could save almost $500 a year if you have a minor accident you don’t report.
#10. Buy a Car That is Cheaper to Insure
This might be too late to matter, but at least keep it in mind for the future. If you want to save money on car insurance, just purchase a car that’s cheaper to insure. If it’s a choice between the sports car and the old beater, go with the beater every time. If you’re tempted to get your son a fancy Corvette for his first car (there are some parents out there who will do that!), think twice. Not only will he pay more because of his age, but he’ll get charged a lot because of the cost and type of car. Think about a small SUV or an old junker. A small SUV is one of the cheapest cars to insure. You can also use an auto insurance comparison tool to check out average premiums for tons of new vehicle models.
#11. Car Safety Discounts
Some insurers will give you a discount if you install certain safety features on your vehicle. A lot of insurance companies will give discounts for car alarms and other features that deter burglars, as well as items like antilock brakes and airbags, which can save lives.
#12. Various Discounts
There are potentially dozens of discounts available. We’ve outlined some of them above, but let’s include some more of them here and then summarize.
Ok, so there are tons of discounts out there, but they vary by state, the insurance company, and who you are. You can get your car insurance agent to review your profile to see if you’re missing out on any of them. Or, you can shop around and ask the different insurers what kind of discounts they have available.
Some common discounts include the following:
- Good grade discount
- Student discount
- Marriage discount
- Mileage discount
- Car use discount
- Bundle package discount
We’ve included a ton of tips here. You’re sure to find one way or another to save yourself money on car insurance. Putting a little effort into it upfront can save you thousands of dollars over the long term. Don’t be lazy about it! Do your homework and put these tips to use.
#13. Join a Group
There are sometimes discounts available if you belong to a big employer, trade organization, or professional group. See if you can join any group to get a bigger discount on your premium.
#14. Keep Your Driving Record Squeaky Clean
When it comes to your monthly premium cost, your own driving record is your worst enemy. Parking tickets, moving violations, and accidents where you were at fault can cost you big. You may have searched long and hard for a good rate and steep discounts, but wrecking your car could nix all those savings when it’s time to renew. Be a safe, smart, and vigilant driver. It could be the best way to save money on your premium.
#15. Think About Higher Deductibles for Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
If you ever file a claim, the deductible is the money taken out of your insurance check. If you opt for higher deductibles, you’ll have lower premiums. It’s a trade-off. You’ve got to think about what is more important to you. For instance, increasing your deductible from $200 to $400 could save you up to 30%. If you don’t plan on getting into a wreck, then strongly consider opting for a higher deductible. If you increase your deductible a lot more – like up to $1,000 – you can save up to 40% or even more. Do you see the pattern here? The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. You need to make sure you can pay it if you do happen to get into an accident. You might place a bet on yourself that you’re a completely safe driver, though. That works out for a lot of people.
However, liability insurance doesn’t have any deductible. So, if you’re at fault in a crash and the other driver files a claim against your insurer, you won’t pay anything toward that. You could face a higher premium come renewal time, though.
Choosing a higher deductible is the best way to lower your annual premiums.
Just keep in mind that it’s a gamble. A car accident will definitely cost you a lot more this way, but if you (and anyone else on your policy) have a history of flawless driving, it’s a smart way to put more money in your pocket. If the fear of a big deductible keeps you up at night, then just set the money aside. Use your yearly savings as a car emergency fund so you’ll never be caught off-guard.
You’re not a little kid, right? Why should you carpool? Wasn’t the last time you carpooled with your best friend’s mom in 3rd grade? You need to rethink carpooling. It’s not just for little kids.
Carpooling is not just good for the environment; it can save you money, too. If you carpool with a couple of other people, with each person driving weekly shifts, you can cut the miles you drive by 66%. The less time you spend on the road, the more money you’ll save on auto insurance.
Most insurers keep track of mileage. There is a lowest, medium, and higher rate. If you can keep it under that magic lowest mileage number, you can save some. Be sure to ask what mileage count you have to keep your car under to get that discount. Then, get hooked up with their tracking program as soon as possible.
The amount you save will vary based on a number of factors, but it could be as high as 25%.
#17. Only Purchase What You Need
The auto insurance you get when you first purchase your car brand new is usually a lot different than what you could get later on. The rates you get at first are usually higher because the bank is going to require you to get collision and comprehensive coverage if you got a loan to pay for the car. Comprehensive coverage will pay for the replacement or repair of your vehicle from damage that isn’t caused by a small accident, and collision coverage will cover the cost if you’re in a big wreck.
Once you pay off the loan, you do have more options, though. You should explore your auto insurance options. Look up your car’s value through Kelley Blue Book. You could have more coverage than you’re required to have. You might even want to drop your collision coverage. A lot of people who drive older cars drop their coverage. It just isn’t worth the monthly cost. It’d be cheaper to go without it.
It’s sometimes smart just to drop the collision coverage altogether on older cars. Comprehensive coverage is so cheap, and you’re throwing away coverage you might need – that’s worth keeping hold of, though.
Some reasons you might need comprehensive coverage include the following:
#18. Do an Audit of Your Driving
If you’ve switched jobs or moved to a new area recently, keep track of your mileage to see if you can save money. The same as with carpooling, reduced driving mileage means lower insurance rates. The issue is that most people just don’t get in touch with their insurance agents when their place of residence or driving habits change, and they end up paying more than they have to.
These 18 tips are sure to help you save good money on your car insurance. The real problem is that many consumers don’t take matters into their own hands. Once they get the insurance, they drop the ball. That’s when the battle begins, though. You can continue to stay on top of things to keep saving more and more. Once you’re done shopping around, you should stay in regular contact with your insurance agent and also act like a responsible adult on the road. Both can help you save money.
Final Word on Saving Money on Your Driving Expenses
We’ve outlined several dozen ways for you to save money on every aspect of your driving experience. Put as many of the tips into practice as possible. Why leave money on the table? Chances are, you’re probably paying too much money in at least one area we’ve outlined above.