Buying a car is a major purchase, but even after you drive off the lot, your recurring auto expenses can start to add up each month.
With some careful comparison shopping and good driving habits, you can find ways to save money on car-related costs. Here are a few tips to help you decrease your auto expenses.
1. Buy a reliable car.
When it’s time to invest in a new ride, you can save yourself money down the road by prioritizing reliability over flashiness.
Websites like Consumer Reports and auto trade publications offer reliability ratings and detailed reviews for every car on the market. By opting for a tried-and-true car, you’ll be less likely to face unexpected repairs in the years to come.
Remember to ask about the warranty and any service deals available—the warranty may cover maintenance and repairs for a set period of time or number of miles, and some dealers offer free oil changes and other perks in your first year of car ownership.
2. Compare auto loan rates.
Shop around to compare your options on auto loans. After doing your research, you can choose the financing option with the lowest interest rate or best incentives.
Many car dealerships and auto manufacturers offer their own in-house financing options, but you can also take out an auto loan through your bank or credit union. If you’re in the market for a loan, be sure to ask about financing deals or specials you may qualify for; there could be savings for recent graduates, veterans or customer loyalty.
3. Shop around for insurance.
Auto insurance is a necessity for every driver, but prices vary widely from company to company. Instead of going with the first option you find, collect a few different quotes to see which insurer offers the most competitive rates. You may also qualify for discounts if you have a clean driving record or if you bundle your insurance with policies for your home or other vehicles.
The level of coverage also drives the price: In general, the higher your deductible, the lower you’ll pay for insurance. But if you choose a plan with a high deductible, remember that you’ll spend more money out of pocket for repairs if your car is damaged or in an accident. It may be worth it to spend a little more for a plan with a lower deductible.
4. Monitor your fuel efficiency.
Every car advertises its average miles per gallon, but your personal driving habits can also impact your fuel efficiency. Research shows that aggressive braking, accelerating and speeding can significantly lower your gas mileage.
To improve your fuel efficiency, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests avoiding these habits, in addition to removing excess weight or cargo from your vehicle, using cruise control when you can and limiting the amount of time your car spends in idle. Over time, the fuel savings will add up.