51 Ways to Save Money on Your Car

Just a quick disclaimer, I am not a financial adviser and this blog post is for educational purposes only. If you need financial advice, please consult a professional. I am not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice.

We cannot live without cars–at least not yet! We need to go to work, drop off kids to school, run errands, and so much more. There are multiple ways to save money on car. It takes some research and planning. More importantly, it takes action! We have compiled 51 ways to save money on your car!

If you act on even a handful of the money-saving tips below, you’ll end up with extra hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in your wallet!

Buying a Car

1. Change your mindset. A car is a great tool! It feels good to have a nice car. But remember that you are not what you drive! Your identity is so much more than that. It means that you don’t need the most expensive car to feel good or confident.

2. Don’t buy a new car! The moment you drive it out of the dealership, it will have started losing its value. In fact, it loses 25-35% of its total value just in the first year!

3. Buy almost new cars — the ones that about 1-3 years old and still has the latest features of your favorite car. As long as you choose a car that has low mileage, you are still fairly confident that it will last for a long time.

4. If you insist on buying that new car, then you should focus on the total price of the car, NOT on the monthly payments.

5. Make sure that you are approved for a loan, even before you walk into any car dealership. Otherwise, they will try to make you apply for their financing. Most of the time, that is a bad idea! Better yet, try to get an auto loan from a credit union. They usually have great rates and awesome customer service.

6. Always pay a downpayment. This will lower your overall loan on the vehicle and will help you get out of that auto loan sooner.

7. Don’t trade in your old car. You may be better off selling it yourself. Car dealerships are known to price trade-ins really low. Do a bit of planning, read and research so you can get a better deal out of your old car.

8. Don’t ever get extended warranty. Those are pretty useless. Besides, if its a new or fairly new vehicle, it should be able to last many years before any of its major parts get broken. Now, if your car breaks down in just a few months, you might have gotten a lemon, which means that it is substandard. You should research the laws in your state because the dealer is obligated to deal with a lemon car. (Again, please do your research).

9. Don’t buy insurance from the car dealership, either. You’re better off signing up with a major insurance that you trust and that has a good rating nationwide.

Buying a Used Car

10. Don’t ever lease a vehicle! Unless you are really wealthy and you absolutely need to have the latest cars with all the bells and whistles.

11. Buy a used car that you can afford, and could enjoy. This takes some planning, research, and a lot of patience. One of the difficulties of buying a used car is that the features that you want may not be readily available in the market. So, better list what you want, and start searching to get the best deal.

12. Search online for the best used car deals. That’s the amazing thing that the Internet brought! Your fingertips are like genies or your fairy godmother. With a couple of clicks and searches, you can search for your next car! Online car marketplaces like Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, Carguru.com, and Craigslist among others can offer you the best cars at the touch of your fingertips.

13. Consider buying a used car from car rental companies. They maintain their fleets and want to offer newer cars to their customers. You can also be sure that they maintain their cars and perform the recommended maintenance.

14. Check the history of any potential car through Carfax or AutoCheck. Most online marketplaces already provide this as a free service. You can check if car had been involved in an accident.

15. Always have a mechanic inspect the car you’re about to buy. Yes, it costs money. But if you pay $100 now, you can potentially save hundreds if not thousands of dollars down the road.

Auto Insurance

16. Increase your deductible if you can. This can significantly lower your rate. But you should also make sure that if you get into an accident, you can cover the deductible.

17. Drive safely. Don’t be a daredevil on the road. If you get a ticket or get involved in accident, your insurance rate may skyrocket! Now, that’s the kind of rhyme you don’t wanna hear.

18. If you have an older car, check the value of your car and the coverage of your car insurance. If it makes sense, drop the comprehensive and collision coverage. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars. Please make sure that you comply with the legal minimum in your state. Besides, you should also have the emergency fund for repairs and/or for buying a new car in case it gets totaled.

19. Bundle your insurance to save some money. Some insurance providers will give a discount if you bundle your auto insurance and your home insurance.

20. Improve your credit score. If your credit score moves up to the next level, you may enjoy a pretty good discount on car insurance.

21. If you can afford it, pay your car insurance in full instead of paying installments. You will save on the convenience charge.

22. Shop around. You may be loyal to one insurance provider, but if you shop around you may get lower rates.

23. Claim your discounts. Oftentimes, insurance providers will give you discounts if you meet certain requirements. The following includes some of these;

  • Safe driver/Accident Free
  • Affinity with specific organizations
  • Combining Home/Renters and Car
  • Multiple Cars under one policy
  • New Vehicle (less than 5 years old)
  • Going Paperless
  • Safe driver (They usually ask you to attach a device to your car to assess your driving skills and habits)

24. Enroll in the roadside assistance of your insurance provider or join a club that provides it such as the American Automobile Association (AAA). It is totally worth it when you find yourself on the side of the road badly needing assistance.

Maintenance & Repairs

25. Review your warranty coverage. If you have a new car, or if you purchased an extended warranty, then review your paperwork and determine if you are still covered. This could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

26. Learn some basic maintenance and repair on your car. This can lead to significant savings if you can do some basic repairs on your car. You can save some money if you can change your own engine oil or any other fluids in the car. Please consult your owner’s manual and double check everything before you start tinkering with your car.

27. Long before you need a mechanic, identify the most trustworthy one close to you. Read reviews online and verify if they have any certifications worth knowing about. In case your car experiences some problems, you will know where to take your car. If it makes sense, sample their service by having your oil changed there.

28. Go directly to a specialty repair shop instead of a general auto shop. I once made the mistake of going to a general auto shop to have my Kia Forte’s transmission checked. They charged me $60 for diagnostic fee, but they did not really do anything, they could not repair it, and just told me to take it to a transmission shop. OR they could replace my transmission and it will cost more than $1,000. It would have been better if I went directly to a transmission shop.

So, how would you know that you have a transmission problem? Read the next tip to find out.

29. Install an OBD2 device. This is a small device that you can hook up to your car’s OBD2 port. Look for this port in your owner’s manual. It is usually under the steering wheel towards the left. Then install an app that can connect and read the OBD2. I use Torque Pro. If the Check Engine Light comes on, I turn on the app and it tells me the error code. I then go online to see what that is and what the potential solution could be.

30. Now, if you don’t want to plug anything in your car, then go to an AutoZone or Advance Auto Parts and they can read the error code for you.

31. Keep up with the manufacturer recommended maintenance. Change oils, regular inspections, parts for replacement — observe all of those based on the recommendation in your owner’s manual. This helps you keep your car in good running condition for a long time.

32. Get a detailed estimate in writing for major work to be done on your car. Ask the garage to specify every single part, labor, and any other charges related to your car. By having it in writing, you can verify and you have a record of what they are going to be doing in your car.

33. Secure a second opinion. If it’s an expensive repair or maintenance work, don’t hesitate to go to a different mechanic to ask for a second opinion. This recently happened to me. Two mechanics said that I needed to replace my Kia Forte’s transmission. That would have cost between $1500 to $2,000. Thankfully, I sought a second and even a third opinion and ended up spending only $350.

34. Wash your own car. Car washes can cost anywhere between $8 to $20. It takes time and energy, but this can save you money.

35. Use the GasBuddy app to look for the cheapest gas around you. Different gas stations have different prices. Download the GasBuddy app and the next time you gas up, search for the cheapest prices.

36. Make sure that your tires have the right air pressure. If they don’t, then you will end up burning more gas than necessary.

37. Use rewards cards and discounts when filling up your tank. I personally use Kroger’s customer card to save up to $1 per gallon. Some credit cards also have this perk.

38. Fill up your tank with regular or mid-range fuel. Consult your manual for the right octane level for your vehicle. Premium gasoline is expensive and may not be significantly better in comparison to mid-range fuel. 

39. Rotate and balance your wheels once a year. This will contribute positively to your fuel efficiency.

40. Keep your car clean. It doesn’t need to be spotless and squeaky clean. But make sure it doesn’t have a lot of trash and if gets messy or dirty, clean it right away.

41. Keep your car for a long time! Resist the temptation to change cars every few years just because you feel like it. If you are ultra wealthy and you can afford it, fine. But keeping it for a long time is good for your wallet.

 

Driving

42. Plan your errands and destinations. This will help you avoid multiple trips to the grocery or department store. It doesn’t make sense to go to the same store twice in a week, right? So make a list of things you need to buy and buy them when on your grocery buying schedule.

43. Carpool to work. By riding with others, you help save your car from additional mileage. You also get to socialize with friends, neighbors, or office-mates.

44. Develop good driving habits such as accelerating gently, anticipating slow downs and stops, and maintaining steady speed through cruise control.

45. Don’t idle your car. You waste fuel and you have fuel efficiency that sucks: 0 mpg!

46. Explore hypermiling. You can really get a lot out of your gas. If you’re not really in a hurry, avoid changing lanes frequently and don’t drive beyond 60 mph. This just means you need to plan your departure time from your home to take the traffic into account.

47. Don’t smoke inside your car. I know that the habit may be difficult to kick. But please, for the sake of your health and anyone who rides in your car, just don’t. Besides, if you sell or trade in your car, it may drop in value!

48. Earn money on your car.Sign up for Lyft or Uber and explore the brave new world of ride-sharing. You can earn some gas money or if you are strategic about it, you may even earn pretty good money on the side.

Accessories

49. Don’t go crazy on car accessories. There are a lot that you may need, but you should think twice or thrice before you buy accessories.

50. Make sure that accessories fit your car. You can use Amazon’s “Your Garage” feature to make sure that anything you buy is compatible with your car’s make, model, and year.

51. Don’t skimp on the essential car accessories. This is especially true if you’re a parent. Don’t sacrifice the safety of your child. Choose accessories that are safe and sturdy but within your budget. The good thing about the Internet is that you can read reviews about most products these days.

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