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Cars cost a lot of money to buy and operate.
And getting a car repaired is getting more expensive every year.
In fact, average car maintenance costs are close to $10,000 to operate your car every year.
It’s no wonder why people look for ways to save money on car expenses.
And this is why I wrote this post.
I’ve been saving money on car expenses since I bought me first car 20 years ago.
I was shocked at how much it cost and wanted to know how I could lower this expense.
So I worked hard to find the best ways to find potential money savings during car ownership.
Below is a list of the 20 ways I lower the cost of owning a car.
20 Ways To Save Money On Car Expenses
#1. Buy A Certified Used Car
The biggest expense you have is buying the car in the first place.
To save money, you should avoid buying a brand new car off the lot.
This is because once you drive it off the lot, it immediately loses close to 30% of its value.
Of course, there are exceptions to this.
If you keep your cars for 10 years or more, then it could make sense to buy a brand new car, depending on the price you pay and any special rebates or discounts you get.
A better option for most is to buy a certified pre-owned car or CPO.
Most car dealers now have certified pre-owned programs that offer great warranties on their used cars.
These are cars that usually have been leased and are now for sale.
They have low miles, are in great condition, and have a good warranty.
CPO cars tend to cost more than a typical used car, but this is because they have a long factory warranty with them.
When you buy a certified pre-owned car, you get a close to new car at a very good price.
Of course, when looking to buy a car, the more fuel efficient it is, the more money you will save at the pump.
#2. Buy A Beater Car
Another option to save a ton of money is to buy a beater car.
These are older cars you can typically find for a few thousand dollars.
But not any car qualifies as a beater.
Beater cars tend to be high quality cars in that they are well built and will last a long time.
Plus any repairs are low cost and you may even be able to do yourself to save money.
By going this route, you will save a ton of money on the purchase of a car and not have to worry about depreciation.
#3. Shop Around For Car Insurance
Car insurance costs is one of the major expenses of owning a vehicle.
Your first step in saving the most money here is to buy a car that doesn’t cost a lot to insure.
This would be your beater cars as mentioned above, but also other cars too.
Sports cars and luxury cars are the ones that tend to have the highest cost for insurance, so you should stay away from them.
Assuming you have a car already, you can also shop coverage to find the lowest prices.
In the past, this meant you have to call a bunch of insurance companies to get quotes.
But with technology, it is much simpler.
This is a service that will compare your rate to up to 15 other insurance companies.
Find a cheaper rate and just click on the button.
Jerry will switch you over without you lifting a finger.
And even better, once you use Jerry, the service will shop for you in the future so you will know if you are paying the least possible amount for coverage.
#4. Get All The Discounts You Qualify For
An addition to shopping for coverage, you also want to make sure you are getting all the discounts you qualify for from your insurance company.
The easiest thing you can do is increase your auto insurance deductible.
The more you have to pay out of pocket, the lower your premium will be.
Make it a point to call or email your provider once a year and have a 15 minute talk with them.
Ask if there are any discounts you qualify for.
Most times you will get a discount if you pay for a full year of insurance versus paying monthly.
If you bundle other insurance policies you can get a discount too.
Same goes for take safe driver classes.
You can even get a mileage discount if you don’t drive that often.
And here is a bonus tip.
If you buy a beater car, don’t pay for comprehensive coverage.
Most times the cost of this coverage will be more than the value of the car.
So take a few minutes and talk with your provider to make sure you are getting all the discounts you qualify for.
#5. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
One of the easiest ways to lower the cost of car expenses is to keep your tires at the proper pressure.
The reason is because under inflated tires will destroy your gas mileage and will wear out your tires early.
This will take you less than 5 minutes to check and in reality, you will only need to add air a few times a year.
To know how much air pressure you need, simply open the driver’s side door and look at the sticker in the door jamb.
You will also need a tire pressure gauge.
These are cheap and can be found at any local auto parts store, or even on Amazon.
Here is the one I use and keep in my glove compartment.
There it will tell you the ideal cold air pressure for your car.
For most cars, it will be around 32 pounds of pressure or psi.
I like to keep my tires inflated to 35 psi, just so I have a little wiggle room.
The key though is to make sure you check your tire pressure first thing in the morning before you drive.
This ensures the reading you get is cold air pressure and not hot.
As you drive, the air in your tires gets hot and inflates the tires even more.
And here is a bonus tip. Do not overinflate your tires.
While you will get a little more gas savings, you will wear the tread off the edges of your tires faster, which means you need to replace them sooner.
And worse, you could even blow the tire with too much air pressure.
#6. Keep Your Tires Balanced And Rotate Them
Along with having the right air pressure, you need to keep your tires balanced and rotated.
It might sound like a scam, but it really isn’t.
By having your tires rotated and balanced for your car, you ensure you get the most wear out of them.
This helps save you money by not having to replace your tires more often.
The recommendation is to balance and rotate your tires every 7,000 miles.
I have stretched this out to every other oil change, which is done at 10,000 mile intervals.
The result is I save money and ensure I get maximum wear from my tires.
#7. Buy The Right Gas
Many people buy the wrong gas thinking they are going to get better gas mileage or that the higher grade of gas is better.
It is not.
Find out what grade of gas your car runs best on, and buy that grade.
For 99% of cars out there, it is regular 87 octane fuel.
If your car requires regular octane and you are paying for the midgrade, you are wasting money on every gallon of gas you buy.
Only sportscars and premium brands, like Audi or BMWs require premium gasoline.
And even then, you can get away with using the midgrade.
With the sensors and computers in cars, your car will still run well with a lower grade of gas.
Another option is to rotate between premium fuel and midgrade to save money.
While you won’t save as much by switching to midgrade, it’s better than nothing.
#8. Find Cheap Gas
Once you know the right grade of gas, it is all about finding the lowest gas prices.
If you simply pay attention on your drive, you will notice where the cheapest gas stations tend to be.
There is one station near me that is always $0.05 cheaper than anyone else, so I buy gas from there.
Of course, you can use apps to save money on gas too.
Not only will they show you where the lowest priced gas is, some offer cash back as well, helping you to save more.
My favorite app is GetUpside.
When you download the app, you get $5, instantly saving you money on your next fill up.
Seeing as how fuel costs are one of the biggest expenses once you own a car, finding the best prices will help you to save thousands of dollars during the years you own the car.
Even saving just $0.10 off the cost of gas will add up over time.
#9. Find A Mechanic
Finding a mechanic you trust is huge.
They won’t try to sell you things you don’t need and will be able to give you solid advice on when to get something fixed and when you can safely put it off.
Additionally, an independent mechanic or service shop will charge you a lot less than a mechanic at the dealer.
When I had my Honda, the dealer charged $65 per hour for the mechanic. The independent mechanic charged me $35 per hour.
That’s close to $100 savings in labor costs for a 3 hour job.
To find good mechanics in your area, ask for recommendations online and do some searches yourself.
I highly recommend you pick the person that has a lot of experience working on the make of your car.
For example, the Honda mechanic I found specialized in Honda’s.
He knew the cars inside and out, and saw a lot of the little issues people who aren’t familiar with Honda’s might not be able to fix quickly or fix at all.
#10. Skip Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts
Many times when you need parts for your car, the mechanic will want to use OEM parts.
These are the parts made by the car company for your car.
But you can save a lot of money on car expenses by finding knock off car parts.
Many companies make the same parts and are good quality for a fraction of the price.
So when your mechanic says you need a part, ask if they can use non-OEM parts for the repair.
Additionally, another option is used parts.
While you don’t want to buy used gaskets and rubber hoses, buying used parts can save you even more on repair costs.
You can find used parts online or at junk yards.
My local mechanic would regularly go to the junk yard to find replacement parts for the repairs he was doing.
#11. Wash And Wax Your Car
Washing and waxing your car might sound like a silly thing to include in a post on ways to save money on car expenses.
But the reality is, keeping the paint in top condition helps to make your car last longer.
And the longer it lasts, the more money you save by not having to buy a new car.
Think about it.
By washing and waxing, you get dirt off your car. You also protect bare spots where the paint may have chipped off.
And if you live in a cold climate, getting the salt off your car will also help limit the growth of rust.
There is nothing worse than having to purchase a new car because the frame is rusted and it will cost more to repair than the car is worth.
Try to make it a point to wash your car once a month and wax it twice a year.
If you don’t want to manually do it, find a local car wash and pay for it.
Many have loyalty clubs that offer a free wash after you buy 10 washes.
Just make sure you don’t only use touchless car washes.
While they are convenient, they don’t get all the dirt off like a car wash that scrubs your car.
#12. Get Routine Maintenance
Paying for regular maintenance on your car can easily be overlooked.
If it is running fine, why pay the money?
While it sounds smart on the surface, it is really dumb to skip routine maintenance.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, the mechanic might spot something early. This could save you thousands down the road.
For example, maybe you are leaking some coolant. If you didn’t get a check up, you would have never known and could do serious damage to the engine.
Second, by keeping your car running at optimal levels, you reduce the overall cost of operating your car and you help improve the odds of it lasting longer.
If you skipped maintenance, you might get 100,000 miles out of your car.
But if you paid for maintenance, you might get 200,000 miles from it.
Over time, that is huge. It means you are buying a new car fewer times.
The bottom line is don’t overlook the benefits of following the maintenance schedule on your car.
#13. Skip Extended Warranties
Buying an extended warranty sounds like a good idea, but most times these are a waste of money.
If you save some money on the side for future repair bills once your car is out of warranty, you will save thousands of dollars.
The reason is because most vehicles built today are built well and last, assuming you get regular tune ups.
If you are buying a car that is not very reliable, you are better off buying a different car instead of the longer warranty.
If you are convinced you need to buy the warranty, make sure you buy it from a dealer and understand what it covers.
There are always exceptions and things you think will be covered are not.
This is especially true if you buy from a third party.
#14. Drive Less
The less you drive, the fewer miles you put on your car.
This means your car lasts longer.
And the tires last longer. And you can go longer before you need routine maintenance.
And of course, the less you drive, the lower your insurance premium since many polices offer lower rates based on annual mileage.
So try to figure out ways you can reduce the amount you drive.
Do you need to visit 3 stores to get your shopping done? Can you just go to 1 or 2?
Better yet, can you get what you need delivered?
If you live close to the grocery store, can you walk or bike there?
Or maybe you have most of the stores you need in one shopping center.
Instead of driving through the parking lot to each one, park in a central location and walk to each store.
#15. Drive Smarter
Driving smarter is all about how to accelerate and stop.
When you stomp on the gas pedal at a green light, you waste a lot of gas.
When you slam on the brake pedal at a red light or stop sign, you lower your fuel consumption and put wear on your brakes.
Learn to avoid rapid acceleration, drive a normal speed, and coast to a stop to save money.
In other words, limit the aggressive driving.
It’s not hard to do, it just takes some practice to make it a habit.
And it’s not like doing this is going to cause you to arrive 20 minutes later than normal.
In fact, I’ve found that I hit fewer red lights doing this.
This is because many lights are on a timer. When you race from one to the next, chances are you are going to hit all the red lights.
But when you take your time, you tend to get more green lights.
The money I save adds up here too. Less waiting at red lights keeps my miles per gallon higher, making my gasoline last longer.
#16. Slow Down
Another tip to reduce car expenses is to change some of your driving habits.
The faster you drive, the more gas you use.
When on the highway, try to keep your speed between 60-65 miles per hour, or close to the posted speed limit.
This is when you will get the highest fuel economy.
Some even recommend turning on your cruise control to help you stay at a steady speed.
Try it out, as it might work for you.
#17. Be Picky When You Drive
Not only does stop and go traffic destroy your gas mileage, so too does rush hour traffic and traffic jams.
So if you have the option to not drive during these times, don’t.
You will save a lot of money on gas as well as wear and tear on your car.
#18. Clean Out Your Car
Do you clean the inside of your car? Or is it filled with a lot of junk?
The extra weight you have in your car has a negative impact on the fuel economy of your car.
Excess weight means your car has to work harder to get up to speed, which means it wastes more gas.
So take the time to clean out the inside of your car from time to time to improve your fuel efficiency.
#19. Do Repairs Yourself
If you have an older car, you can save a ton of money by doing repairs yourself.
There is a ton of information online to learn how to do simple car repair.
There are even books and manuals for your specific car, walking you through many repairs.
At the very least, you can watch videos on how to repair your car.
With a newer car, doing repairs yourself is more difficult since there are more covers and electronics, but you should still be able to do some basic maintenance yourself.
At the very least, you can change out some blown bulbs or your windshield wiper blades to save money.
#20. Sell Your Car Yourself
While this tip won’t save you money during ownership, selling your car yourself will typically get you a higher sales price than trading it in.
And getting a higher sales price helps to offset the money you sunk into the car while owning it.
When I was getting rid of my last car, the dealer wanted to give me $10,000 for it.
I sold it myself and get $13,500.
For a little work, I’ll take an extra $3,500.
And selling a car these days is easy. Just post your car on Facebook Marketplace and pay for a basic ad on AutoTrader.
You can post on Craigslist, but I get a ton of scams with that.
For example, I’ll get texts from people claiming they need to prove your ad is real.
They then say they will send you a 6 digit code and to give them the code when you get it to prove you are real.
This is a scam. They are trying to set up a fake phone number.
The phone company they are scamming sends you the verification code and then when you give it to the scammer, they enter it pretending they are the ones that received it.
The bottom line is, if it sounds fishy or too good to be true, it is.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of things you can do to save money on car expenses.
Many times it is just thinking outside the box and changing your routine a little bit.
If you are serious about lowering the cost of operating your car, take it from me, these tips work.
I use many of them to save the most money on our cars.
Just start slow and pick a few easy ones to start using, and then add some more.
Before you know it, you will be saving a lot of money on your car.