Owning a car is expensive. Not only do you have to worry about the initial purchase price, but you also need to take running costs into account. A car driven around 15,000 miles a year costs upwards of $10,000 to run when everything is taken into account. This means you should budget at least $900 a month to cover fuel, insurance, maintenance costs, etc.
For many people, that’s a lot of money, but the good news is that there are savings to be made if you are budget-savvy.
Prioritize Fuel Efficiency
Some cars cost a lot more to run than others. If you buy a gas-guzzling truck, you can expect to pour a ton of money into the tank every time you take it for a spin. It’s important to bear this in mind when shopping for a new car. Smaller cars cost less to run because they are lighter. The bigger the car and the bigger the engine, the more fuel it will use.
Other features like AC and automatic gearboxes also impact fuel efficiency. Look at the fuel efficiency figures for the model you are interested in and see whether it is better or worse than similar models. It might be better to opt for a model you like a bit less if it will save you money in the long run. Consider buying a hybrid if you want to save money on gas. Hybrids are often more cost-effective for shorter journeys.
Shop Around for Cheaper Fuel
There is a lot of variation in fuel prices, so it is worth shopping around. Don’t bother paying extra for premium gas either because unless you’re driving a top-of-the-range vehicle, it won’t offer any discernible benefits for the additional uptick in price at the pump.
Keep Your Car Well-Maintained
Car maintenance can make a big difference in how much it costs to run a car. If you scrimp on tune-ups and don’t bother changing the oil until the engine seizes, you can expect to pay more in repairs and your vehicle will need replacing sooner.
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for oil, oil filter, and air filter change intervals. It is better to err on the side of caution and change the oil more often than perhaps it needs. Oil keeps the engine running smoother for longer. A dirty air filter will decrease fuel efficiency and therefore cost you money.
Learn to do your own car maintenance tasks. It’s a lot cheaper than paying a mechanic to do the work. You can easily save on automotive supplies if you shop online and YouTube has a ton of helpful how-to videos for things like changing an oil filter.
Monitor Your Tires
Monitor the tread on your car’s tires. The low tread isn’t only dangerous – it can also decrease fuel efficiency. In addition, keep your tires correctly inflated. Check them once a week and top up the air when necessary. This will save you more than $100 a year.
Use Your Car Less
Don’t use your car unnecessarily. Every mile you drive costs you money, so if you can walk or cycle somewhere, do it rather than taking the car. Walking or cycling is much better for your health as well as saving cash. Look at carpooling for the daily commute. Sharing the journey with colleagues is a good way to cut fuel costs and minimize wear and tear on your vehicle.
Compare Insurance Rates
Shop around for cheaper insurance and consider a higher deductible. Bundling auto insurance with another type of insurance from the same provider may also lead to a discount.
Finally, be a careful driver. The more you speed and take risks, the more likely you are to pick up a speeding ticket or crash your car, which is an easy way to way to rack up a huge bill.