Few things take up as much time and money as a car. Not only is there the sticker price to consider, you have extra expenses for registration, car insurance, maintenance, fuel, and more. If you have a car (or are getting one) here’s how you can save money.
Maintenance and Checkups
Similar to people, cars need regular checkups and tuning, too. To keep your car running as long as possible, bring it in for routine maintenance. (This may be part of your warranty if you bought a new car.) Some maintenance items include car washes (especially in the winter months when there is salt on the roads), tire rotation and replacement, alignment, fixing chips in the window before they spread, and regular oil changes. This post from Cheapism offers a few ideas for getting your car ready for spring.
Where do you keep your car parked? While keeping your car housed in a garage may seem annoying and costly, it can actually save you money in the long run. If your car is parked in your own driveway, or if your apartment building offers parking- that’s great. If, however, you resort to street parking for long periods of time, this may start to cost you. Not only is your car exposed to the elements, your car insurance could be more expensive (read more from Mr. Clean).
Spothero can help you find parking spaces for any duration- from one hour to one month. It will also give you directions, details (i.e. if you have to get there before 7 p.m. for overnight parking, monthly rates, etc), and pricing. Even if you’re looking for the cheapest place to park your car while you’re at the dentist, Spothero will get you there.
If your car is parked far more than it’s being driven, you can still make some money with it. Turo.com allows you to rent out your own car when it’s not in use. With the app, you can list your car, create a calendar of availability, and coordinate pickup/dropoff. You can preview how much earning potential your vehicle has here, if you know the market value and the monthly availability. Turo has it’s own insurance coverage, when you list your car you can enroll in their protection plan that offers liability insurance and roadside assistance (more information is available on their website). Both renters and listers can benefit from Turo’s insurance plans, which can also save a headache in the event something does happen.
Apps for Driving
Driving more efficiently (or saving ten cents a gallon when you fill your car) can also save time and money. Waze offers real time traffic updates from other people, and can also show you where to find the cheapest gas nearby. Google Maps will also highlight areas of heavy congestion and an estimated wait time if applicable. INRIX takes this a step further and will learn your frequent destinations, and offer the fastest route available.
GasBuddy is an app dedicated to gas prices, and will also help you calculate the money you will spend on fuel on a specific trip. Gas Guru will also help you find the cheapest gas nearby. AAA’s TripTik not only shows the cheapest fuel, but if you’re planning a longer trip, it will help you find the best route available and takes the guesswork out of finding hotels, too. (We also have a post about saving money in other ways during road trips.)
Finally, the way you drive can also save you some money in the long run. MoneyCrashers recommends driving slow and at a steady pace for the best mileage, purchasing gas at a cooler time of day, and cutting down on wind resistance (and 17 more ideas). Forbes recommends buying gas Monday-Wednesday, because there are usually price increases on Thursday before the weekend. Simple Dollar offers 15 more subtle tricks, such as avoiding left hand turns and other ways to save your car from idling.
And finally, if you use your car a lot for work or charitable purposes or are self employed even part time, downloading an app like MileIQ can help you accurately track your mileage and make sure that you get the proper amount of money back from charity and work related travel.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to cars and their attached costs, but with some thought, you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run.