Despite the fact that 1.25 million people die in road crashes every year, most Americans still find that having a car is a necessity. But while being able to provide your own transportation can have its perks, it can also come with its costs.
In fact, the total cost of owning a car can be astronomical. Aside from the vehicle’s purchase price, you’ll also have to pay for insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance, repairs and replacement, fuel, inspections, registration fees, and more. According to Nerd Wallet data, the average monthly car payment is $523, but the average car ownership costs total around $8,469 per year if you drive approximately 15,000 miles on an annual basis. And if you get into an accident, you might have to pay even more out-of-pocket.
So what can you do to keep costs low while still retaining your ability to drive your own vehicle? Here are some money-saving tips to keep in mind.
Ask For Insurance Discounts
Failing to shop around for insurance coverage can cause you to pay higher premiums than necessary. Just because you’ve been with one insurer for a few years doesn’t mean you automatically have to renew, especially if you’re not receiving a favorable rate. But before you make a switch, it’s worth asking your current insurance provider whether they might be able to offer you a discount. Many insurance companies will lower your premiums if you’ve proven yourself to be a safe driver, if you’ve taken a defensive driving class, or if you’ve had additional safety features installed in your vehicle. They may offer other discounts, as well, but you need to ask about them to find out!
Prioritize Preventative Maintenance
Spending money on maintenance may sound like the opposite of sound financial advice, but it’s worth noting that preventative maintenance will typically save you money in the long term. For example, getting your oil changes and having your tires rotated (which should be performed every 5,000 to 8,000 miles) can be a good way to increase the longevity of your vehicle and its essential components. While you don’t necessarily need to schedule a routine tune-up if your car is running as it should, you also shouldn’t put off preventative maintenance. After all, this work will typically cost a lot less than total part replacement and can ultimately reduce your stress as a car owner.
Don’t Take Road Risks
As mentioned above, you could reduce your car insurance premiums by being a safe driver. And conversely, you’ll probably see a premium increase if you’re involved in an accident. Since three of the most common causes of U.S. car accidents are distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding, you’ll want to steer clear of these reckless behaviors if you want to save money. Aside from insurance premium increases, you’ll also be able to avoid expensive property damage and legal trouble. Keep in mind that traveling at the speed limit and avoiding behaviors like rapid braking can allow you to maintain an ideal gas mileage and prevent premature wear and tear of brake pads or other parts. That’ll save you money in the long run, as well.
Ditch the Leasing Agreement
Leasing a car does provide you with the freedom to trade in your model every couple of years — but you’ll end up paying for that freedom over time. Although you might be able to access a pricier car this way, you’re going to pay far more for your vehicle with a leasing agreement than you would if you owned a car outright for five or 10 years. If you’re looking for a way to save money on a more expensive car, consider buying a used vehicle instead.
Pay Less at the Pump
While you might not be able to dictate the cost of gas, you do have some control over how much you pay to fuel up your car. It all comes down to the gas that’s right for your vehicle. Don’t make the mistake of paying for premium fuel if your car doesn’t actually need it! Some models do require premium-grade gas, but many vehicles don’t. If your car isn’t on that list, make the switch to unleaded or regular. You could save more than $100 a year by switching from premium gas to a lower-octane fuel.
For many of us, owning a car is a non-negotiable. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to spending a small fortune on your vehicle. With these simple tips, you can save some money without sacrificing your ability to get from point A to point B.