Woman in a car.

Saving Money On Auto Costs

If you are like most Americans, you love your car. Because of that, vehicle costs can get pretty out of control and really put a strain on your budget. From the actual cost to buy your vehicle down to the fuel that you put in it, things add up. Because of the expense, you should be looking for ways to cut your costs wherever you can. Here is some help.

So you want to save money on your auto expenses. Great, they represent a huge part of your overall budget which means that with a little work, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars a month. If you are desperate for extra money and this sounds good to you, let’s get started. Here are some areas to investigate.

1) Fuel Costs

This is the expense that gets to us the most, fuel costs. While you may only spend 100 dollars a month on fuel, people get quite passionate about saving money on it. They will go as far as driving miles out of their way just to save a few pennies per gallon.

Traveling for better fuel prices is often a losing battle because you are burning fuel in the process and putting more wear on your vehicle. Instead, concentrate on finding the best price for fuel on your normal route. Use an app like Gas Buddy and find out which station along the way has the best cost.

Another way to save on fuel is to simply use less of it. You have heard this before, but it is true, keep your vehicle maintained and you will use less gas. This means keeping filters clean, changing the oil and keeping your tires properly inflated. Luckily, since most cars now have Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, this is easier than ever. If you do not have one, invest in a tire pressure gauge for around a buck.

2) Oil Changes

Once every 3000 to 5000 miles, you need to change that oil. This is preventative maintenance that will greatly increase the life of your vehicle. The added lubrication from fresh fluids may also increase your fuel economy slightly.

Costs can vary quite a bit for oil changes depending on the vehicle. Gas engines can be as little as 50 dollar while diesels can go all the way up to 300 to 400 dollars for a simple change. No matter what kind of vehicle you have, one thing is true though. It is always cheaper to do your own oil. It is also one of the simplest things that you can do, even if you shy away from most vehicle maintenance, you can do it.

All you need is an oil pan and a few basic hand tools to get the job done. If you are not the mechanical type, watch a video online for your vehicle. As for the oil, most auto stores will recycle it for free, just ask.

Now for the savings. If you have an average gas engine, you should be able to save around 20 dollars an oil change. If you have a big truck with a diesel, you could save up to $250 now by changing your own oil.

3) Vehicle Repairs

Once your car is out of warranty, it is all on you. Sure, you can buy an expensive extended warranty but these are often not worth the high cost. After all, they wouldn’t sell them if they didn’t make money on them.

To save money on vehicle repairs, the best thing that you can do is find a quality mechanic not associated with a dealership. They are out there. Ask friends for recommendations and read reviews online. Once you have a mechanic that you can trust, you will be able to get honest service without the high dealership markup.

Another way to save on maintenance is to have the check engine code read, before you take it in for service. Many auto parts stores will do this for you absolutely free. Once you have the code, you will better be able to tell if your mechanic is being straight with you. In addition, you might find problems that you can fix yourself for free.

4) Tire Changes

Like everything else on a vehicle, tire changes can be quite expensive. Most people will get 2 to 3 years out of a set of tires but if you have specialty tires or drive a lot, you may go through them more often.

The best way to save on tires is to take good care of them. Maintaining proper tire pressure is one way to do that. If you have too little pressure, the outside edges of your tire will wear faster and your tires will run hot. If you have too much pressure, the center of the tire will wear out faster than the rest. Keep the tires set at your manufacturers recommended pressure.

Even more important than tire pressure though is tire rotations. Rotating your tires often will spread the wear out evenly among them. It will help keep one or two tires from wearing out ahead of the others. Try to rotate your tires every 3000 to 6000 miles. A good way to remember is to just rotate them every time you change your oil.

When the time does finally come to buy new tires, be sure to do your research. If you just walk into the tire shop and buy what they suggest, you are wasting money. Price your tires at 3 different stores and you will see that prices are all over the map. Be sure to take into account the cost of mounting and balancing for a fair comparison. In addition, do not just pick the lowest cost tire. Choose a quality brand and take the mileage warranty into consideration.

5) Monthly Auto Payments

If you are financing your vehicle, you may be able to save money by refinancing it. This is especially true if you obtained your current financing at an auto dealership.

Auto dealerships make money on the “back end” of a car sale by adding a bit to the interest rate. The bank might have approved you for 6% but the dealership might offer you 7% or even 8%. The extra money goes into their pocket and it could amount to an additional 1000 dollars, 2000 dollars or more over the course of the loan.

In any case, it doesn’t cost anything to apply for a refinance loan. Even better, it is almost hassle free. If approved and you accept an offer, the refinancing bank will do almost all of the work.

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James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.