As we all know, owning a car isn’t exactly cheap. Throw in all the gadgetry to keep the kids busy and gallons of gas for transporting them to and from school and sports practice, and the cost really adds up! And get this, over the course of a lifetime, the average person will spend over $500,000 on vehicles and vehicle-related expenses. This leaves little for manis and pedis. (sigh) But wait, there’s hope! Read on to find out a few nifty tricks to cut costs on monthly vehicle expenses. Maybe you can get that manicure after all!
Make Every Last Drop of Gas Count
When you pick up with kids from school or soccer practice, make sure you turn off the engine rather than idling. Again, this is good for both your wallet and the environment. Two-for-one! Why? By not idling, you will save up to a half-gallon of gas an hour, and reduce pollution. Additionally, did you know that running your air condition can reduce your fuel economy by more than 25 percent? Yep. Not cool.(pun intended) If the weather is lovely, turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to feel the wind in your hair!
Did you know that by gassing up yourself at a self-service gas station, you can save 5 to 10 percent per gallon over a full-service station? Yep. If you have a cash-back rewards credit card, check to see how much you can save on each dollar spent at the gas pump – you may be surprised how quickly it adds up. Don’t have one of these nifty credit cards? Fear not! Many gas stations offer their own credit card, which can reduce the cost per gallon as well.
When you head to car lot to buy a new car, make sure you know how the options will affect gas mileage. For instance, four-cylinder engines will get about four to five miles per gallon more than six-cylinder engines, and manual transmissions (while certainly fun) get about five miles per gallon more than automatic transmissions.
Keep Up with Your Vehicle’s Maintenance
A poorly maintained vehicle can use between 25 and 33 percent more gas yearly. That’s just not cool. Not for your pocketbook or the environment. By simply reading your owner’s manual you can find out when it’s time for maintenance. Be sure to note any extra services that are recommended at repair shops. For example, oil change shops may tell you to get an oil change every 3,000 miles. Ah, but your vehicle’s manual may beg to differ with the shop guys. Always go by the manual’s recommendation for how often you should change your oil and perform basic maintenance, and listen to the shop when it comes to problems. And speaking of which, why even take it to the shop? While I realize you may not necessarily have a lot of time on your hands, you can save money by performing some maintenance yourself. You don’t need a man to do this for you! You are a woman – hear you roar! YouTube has a ton of great how-to videos and there are numerous books available that will teach you how to perform basic maintenance such as rotating tires, changing the oil, and replacing air filters, wiper blades, and spark plugs. Don’t you know that would impress your significant other?!
Women. Doin’ it for ourselves!
Utilize Good Driving Habits
You’d be surprised how much moolah you can save on gas and repairs by driving sensibly. Prevent wasting gas by planning your errands out. Make a route in your head so that you attack the furthest places first, working your way back home. This will ensure you aren’t backtracking, which is not only highly annoying, but also expensive in terms of gas money. As an added bonus, it saves time, which is something I can always use more of.
Additionally, by avoiding braking hard you’ll extend the life of your brakes and brake pads (and toys won’t fly around, which is obviously a safety issue). Also, a nifty little trick is to use traffic apps to anticipate traffic jams. I can’t tell you how handy this has been for me and how many appointments I’ve actually made it to on time since I knew about traffic jams and was able to take a different route.
Get the Right Car Insurance
Before you purchase insurance for your vehicle, you should shop around and compare rates from at least four companies. When pricing out plans, be sure to note any safety features on your car, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, and automatic seat belts—these features may qualify you for lower insurance rates. Also, ask your agent if you can save any money by keeping a good driving record or raising your deductible. If you own a home, you might be able to save even more cash by bundling your homeowner’s and auto insurance together.
Another thing to find out when purchasing a new car is if your model carries surcharges for repair costs, damage, or higher theft rates. Your insurance agent will know, so be sure to ask before buying.
Owning a vehicle doesn’t have to break the bank or cost you an arm and a leg (which is good, because you kind of need those things). By simply being mindful of your driving habits and taking proper care of your vehicle, you’ll save cash on monthly car expenses and increase the life of your ride. And who doesn’t love that?
Image via Flickr by Chris Potter