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Published On: Fri, Nov 1st, 2019

Reduce Your Car Ownership Expenses With These 12 Moves Today

You’re spending too much on your car.

It’s not that your car isn’t an important part of your life. When push comes to shove, you’d probably go so far as to call it indispensable. Your life wouldn’t be the same without it.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give up driving altogether to meaningfully reduce your total cost of car ownership. In fact, you don’t have to make any drastic life changes at all. No need to move, or find a new employer, or beg your boss to let you work remotely full-time (though a couple work-at-home days per week would surely go a long way).

Nope: To reduce your car ownership costs in a big way, all you need to do is try out some (or all!) of these 12 wallet-friendly moves. Perhaps you’ve crossed some off your list already.

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  1. Swap Your Gas Guzzler for a Fuel Sipper

Admittedly, you won’t complete this task today, unless you’ve already gotten bites from private party buyers. But, if you put your mind to it, your car could be out of your hands by this time next week. And your wallet could be a good deal happier.

Switching out your gas-guzzling SUV or crossover for a smaller and/or electric ride won’t just reduce your vehicle’s lifetime fuel costs. It’ll also make a significant dent in its carbon footprint and overall environmental impact, reducing the amount of harmful emissions for which it’s directly responsible. Talk about a win-win for your budget and the planet.

  1. Work With a High-Quality, Low-Cost Insurance Provider

Don’t settle for the first insurance quote you get. Instead, work with companies like Freeway Insurance reputed for high-quality, low-cost policies that provide all the coverage you need with none of the extras you don’t. And don’t forget to ask your insurance agent for discounts and driving tips that could lower your insurance premiums even more.

  1. Use a Gas Price Comparison App

Would you be willing to drive a mile or two out of your way to save big at the pump? Using a gas price comparison app like GasBuddy will help you do just that. If you belong to a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco, you’ll save even more when you fill up at its stations.

  1. Don’t Spring for Premium Fuel

With few exceptions, Premium and Super fuel grades are unnecessary. It’s not quite a racket — performance really does increase at higher octanes — but the higher out of pocket costs don’t justify the added zip and pep.

  1. Go Pre-Owned

When you’re next in the market for a “new” vehicle, opt for pre-owned instead. Choosing a two-year-old car over a functionally identical current-year alternative will reduce your all-in cost by 5 to 10 percent, depending on the model, and could save even more if your pre-owned selection has high mileage for its age.

Why is this so? Because new cars immediately lose value to depreciation when they’re driven off the lot. This is a bedrock principle of car sales — one dealers count on you to forget.

  1. Drive Less, Bus More

If you have a reliable alternative to single-occupancy vehicle commuting, take it whenever possible. In major metro areas, urban and suburban commuters typically have access to reliable bus or train transit. Along high-traffic routes with dedicated busways or fixed rail, mass commuting is often faster than driving, too.

  1. Carpool to Work and School

If you don’t have access to reliable mass transit, or you prefer the convenience of door-to-door travel, start a carpool with geographically proximate colleagues and friends. Driving your car with company one or two days a week is a whole lot cheaper (and less stressful) than driving by yourself, five days a week. In the absence of reliable school or city bus service, start a school carpool for your kids and their buddies too.

  1. Combine Trips (And Plan Ahead to Reduce Out-and-Back Travel)

A small measure of trip planning goes a long way. Instead of three out-and-back errand runs, spend a few minutes planning your route and making your shopping lists before heading out of the house. You’ll spend less time out and about while consuming less gas and putting fewer miles on your vehicle — all key to reducing car ownership expenses.

  1. Use a Navigation App With Traffic Avoidance to Reduce Time Spent in Slowdowns

These days, it seems like everyone has a favorite traffic avoidance app. Whichever you choose, use it regularly, and heed its warnings. Time spent idling in traffic is money lost (and environmental damage wrought).

  1. Invest in Preventive Maintenance

One school of thought posits that car maintenance is best done lightly: That is, only the absolute essentials, such as oil changes every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, are acceptable.

This is a shortsighted view. Proper maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations will extend the life of your vehicle and reduce the frequency with which you’ll need to undertake major repairs in its later years. 

That said, if you plan to sell or trade in your car soon, you can safely avoid your next major tune-up. The dealer will do that before they turn it around.

  1. Up Your Insurance Deductible

A higher insurance deductible equals a lower insurance premium. As long as you avoid claims, upping your deductible will save you money in the long run. 

  1. Refinance Your Auto Loan, If You Can Get a Better Rate

This isn’t always good advice. Refinancing always comes at a cost; the real question is whether the exercise reduces your lifetime interest costs by a greater margin. When benchmark interest rates are low, refinancing often makes sense, especially if your credit has improved markedly since you took out the loan.

A Money Pit on Wheels? Not If You Can Help It

Your car doesn’t have to be a money pit on wheels. After implementing the tips discussed above, do one more thing before you buy your next vehicle: carefully consider its lifetime ownership costs, as calculated by impartial, expert reviewers. Then, get ready to enjoy years of savings on the car you can’t do without.

Author: J Miller

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