Owning a car is expensive. You must pay for insurance, gas, maintenance and then unexpected costs like repairs or accidents. With gas prices soaring, it saves money to be thoughtful about how you drive. I’ve found 20 ways to defray some of the costs of owning a car and save money on gas. Try out these cost-cutting tips.
1. DIY Car Repairs
These days you can look up YouTube videos for almost any type of car repair or maintenance, and some are easy enough for almost anyone to do-it-yourself. Recently I changed an air filter and used a generic one instead of the factory one and saved almost $100 for less than five minutes of my time.
2. Close Your Windows
When you are driving on the highway, open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.
3. Do Your Oil Change by the Car Manual
When you get an oil change, most places place a sticker on your car stating you need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. However, if you check your car manual, you will find most manufacturers recommend every 6,000 miles — which would save you at least two oil changes a year or more, which is a savings of $40-$60. Make sure to check your manual or use online sources for the suggested miles for changing the oil.
4. Drive the Speed Limit
Getting a speeding ticket or getting in a car accident will cost a lot of money and increase your car insurance for a number of years. Speeding also uses more gas.
5. Get Adequate Insurance
Insurance is expensive, but cutting corners can cost you in the long run. Make sure you have enough coverage for your car, home, medical, life, etc. I recently read a story about a woman who thought she had adequate coverage but didn’t and almost ended up homeless.
6. Use an Electronic Toll Transponder
If you use a toll transponder like E-ZPass, you will save money, time and gas. Some tolls offer discounts for using the pass, and you will not have to worry about finding the right amount of money. Even if you don’t travel much, you can keep the transponder in your car for when you need it. Most programs are free. And now some roads that got rid of toll booths charge a fee if you don’t have a transponder.
7. Buy Home & Auto Insurance Together
If you purchase your home and auto insurance from the same company, you often will receive a 10-15% discount.
8. Increase Your Insurance Deductible
By increasing your insurance deductibles, you can save as much as 15% per year on your insurance costs.
9. Ask Your Insurance Company for Loyalty Discounts
If you have been with the same insurance company for your home and/or car for more than six years, ask for a loyalty discount of 10%.
10. Never Let Your Gas Go Below a Quarter Tank
By keeping your gas tank full, your fuel pump will work efficiently, and you will prevent it from breaking (which will cost you $600 or more to replace). Also, you will be less likely to run out of gas if you make a habit of filling your tank at a quarter tank.
11. Use Cruise Control
My husband uses cruise control every chance he gets. It helps him to maintain the speed limit, which will prevent getting expensive tickets, and maintaining the same speed uses less gas.
12. Get Problems Diagnosed Free at Car Part Stores
If your car is experiencing problems, take it to a car parts store such as AutoZone to have them diagnose the problem for free. Even if you need to take the car to get it repaired, if you know what the issue is you can look up the cost before going to a mechanic and make sure they are charging an appropriate fee.
13. Negotiate Car Repairs
If your car needs to be fixed by a mechanic, first get the problem diagnosed free at an auto parts store. Ask the store how much the parts would cost to repair the issue. Call at least three different reputable repair shops and ask for a quote over the phone. If a quote is high, state the price of the part and ask why they are charging the amount.
14. Negotiate When Purchasing a Car
You can save thousands of dollars by negotiating to purchase a car.
15. Don’t Idle When Waiting
When you leave your car running, you are using the gas and also adding fumes to the air. When you idle for 10 minutes that is the equivalent of driving five miles.
16. Shop Around for the Best Gas Price
Gas prices can vary as much as 10-20 cents per gallon from station to station. If you don’t want to waste your gas searching for the best price, you can use an app called GasBuddy to find the lowest gas price in your area. By saving 10-20 cents a gallon, over a year you will save $100-$200 if you have a 20-gallon tank and fill up once a week.
17. Check Your Tire Pressure
Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure for your car, which can be found in the manual. By doing so you will save over $100 per year on gas mileage.
18. Use The Air Conditioning Sparingly
When you use the air conditioning in your car, it uses up a lot of gas. Try to drive with the windows open and park in shaded areas when possible.
19. Use Credit Cards To Earn Bonuses
Some credit cards offer bonus points when purchasing gas. By using these types of credit cards to purchase gas, you could earn extra money or rewards.
20. Use Rewards To Get Discounted Gas
Some grocery stores offer rewards programs that enable you to receive discounted gas when you purchase items in the store. You can also earn bonus points for purchasing select items. You can get gas points at Shell stations when you use your Giant card and a discount at Sunoco when you shop at Safeway. Some gas stations also give you a discount if you pay with cash.