Transportation is probably one of the largest line items in your monthly budget. Gas, insurance, maintenance, repairs and even car washes can add up quickly. But there are ways to save on the ride you already own.
1. Gas. Use an app like GasBuddy or Gas Guru to find the lowest price to fill your tank. Maintain proper tire inflation and plan your errands to avoid backtracking for maximum fuel efficiency. Especially as the temperature heats up, running the A/C can lower gas mileage, so roll down the windows when possible and enjoy some fresh air to save money. Driving fast on highways and carting around a lot of extra weight in the trunk will end up costing you more at the pump. Also, with most modern vehicles, there’s no need to “warm up” the engine before driving.
2. Insurance. Call around to find the best price for the coverage you need. You can raise your deductible to lower monthly premiums, but be sure you can afford that higher upfront cost in the event of an accident. Right now, many insurers are offering rebates, so call your provider to see if you qualify. Bundling auto and homeowners coverage may score you a discount — as can a safe driving record. If you’re putting fewer miles on your car by working from home, tell your agent. That may save you some money too. And ask if signing up for an online automatic payment can shave a few dollars off your premium. If your car is older, dropping collision coverage may make sense, but make sure that’s a good idea in your particular situation.
3. Maintenance. Change your oil regularly and perform all maintenance services as your owner’s manual recommends to avoid unnecessary repair bills. Don’t stretch the interval of these important services to save money or else you may regret it down the line. Shopping around and using a reputable, independent mechanic may save you money if you still visit the dealership. And NEVER ignore a warning indicator light.
4. Repairs. If, despite all your preventive maintenance efforts, you find yourself in need of a major (or minor) repair, make sure you don’t overpay by doing a little homework. AAA’s website lets you research specific repairs by make, model and location so you can find out about how much to expect to pay.
5. Cleaning. There’s no need to take your vehicle to a pricey car wash if you’re willing to put in a little DIY effort. With a small investment in the right cleaning supplies and tools, you can keep your ride shining bright — and more money in your pocket.
6. Trip prep. If you’re hitting the road for a major trip, consider having a mechanic perform a pre-trip checkup to decrease your chance of breaking down far from home. This may be even more important if you don’t use your car as much lately. Signing up for AAA or another roadside assistance program can cover minor repairs and towing as well as give you discounts for meals and lodging on the road.
7. Drive for dollars. If you’re comfortable with the increased risk during the pandemic, you can not only save money on your car, but also make money with it. Generate extra income by signing up for a ride-sharing platform like Uber or Lyft. Just be sure to set aside part of your earnings to cover the extra wear and tear you’ll incur as a result of the extra mileage.
With a little effort and planning, you can save money and still enjoy the ride!