Owning your own car doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little bit of work and just a little bit self-control, you can save money left and right when you drive. Read on for small things you can start doing today to save money on your ride.
1. Use a credit card with gas savings
Credit cards offer savings on everything from travel to gym memberships, and some offer as much as 5% back on gas purchases. If you drive to work or have a road trip coming up, having a credit card that offers cash back can really work to your advantage.
2. Drive passively
Accelerating quickly, driving at or above the speed limit, and breaking hard or often are all driving behaviors that will devour your gas. Drive patiently, use cruise control on the highway, and lay off the gas, and you’ll be filling up at the gas station less often.
3. Don’t pay for unnecessary repairs
Keeping up with regular maintenance will undoubtedly save you money in the long-run, but sometimes repairs might be unavoidable. However, if you think that something might be up with your car, you don’t have to head straight to the mechanic. If you have a car health monitor, you can diagnose your car’s potential issues yourself and decide if it’s something you can do yourself. If not, you can walk into the mechanic’s shop with confidence, already knowing exactly what you need to have fixed.
4. Don’t idle
This one’s simple, but huge. Idling your car not only eats up gas, but it also causes damage to your engine and to the environment. And, contrary to popular belief, restarting your engine does not use more gas than idling your car.
5. Be picky when it comes to your ride
You can save tons of money if you look for a few key features when buying a car: buy a car with good mileage, buy the type of car that you need, and don’t buy new—unless you find some kind of screaming deal, like no interest financing for 60+ months.
Buying a one or two-year-old car that is coming off a lease is huge because someone else has already paid for the initial depreciation when the car loses the most value.
6. Shop around for insurance
The auto insurance market is incredibly competitive. Even if you think you currently have a great rate, it’s likely that there’s a better deal out there for you. Take a little bit of time to look around for a provider that will meet your needs at a lower rate. Safe drivers who own safer vehicles often get discounts. It’s smart to look into a new plan every year, too, because the car insurance market is also very volatile.
7. Don’t accept just any financing
If you’re not one of the lucky (or perhaps incredibly disciplined) few who can buy a car with cash, make sure to shop around for financing. It’s possible that the manufacturer might offer the lowest rate, but sometimes it can be cheaper to go to a bank or credit union. And if you’re currently paying off a car loan, explore re-financing options. If rates have lowered or your credit score has improved, you could cut your monthly payments substantially.