For some, cars are a necessity they have to put up with in order to be able to live their daily lives. For others, cars are things that are not only useful but are also works of art and a symbol of independence. Whichever camp you belong to, however, you have to agree that cars are far from inexpensive. The average new car will cost its owner close to $8,500 per year — that is 15% of the average American household income.
But many of us don’t live in areas where giving up on car ownership is a good choice. The average American household owns slightly fewer than two cars. And even though car ownership and the miles they traverse every year has been in a decline, cars are still a large expense for the average household. However, there are always some things you can do to reduce the costs of car ownership.
- Pick the Car You Can Afford
Let us start with the most obvious trick — don’t buy a car you cannot afford. It is easy to get tempted into buying a car that is a category above what you can afford. Instead of doing that, think about buying a car in a category that is below what you can afford.
- It Is All About Miles per Gallon
If your new car is a gas guzzler, you will burn through your gasoline budget quickly. If you are a savings-minded buyer, you should go instead for the car with the best fuel economy. Often enough, that means buying a smaller and lighter car. You might also need to take a pass on some of the additional features that are usually sold with cars.
- Try to Buy Only the Car
Your car dealer will try to sell you additional services such as credit life or disability insurance or an extended warranty. These services rarely pay off and might end up costing you in the four-figure range. So stick to your regular insurance, and study the standard warranty closely.
- Adapt Your Driving Habits
How, when, and where you drive affects how much gas your car is spending. And because gas costs money, your driving habits should be geared towards low consumption. There are many things you can do to make your car use less gas. Try practicing smooth acceleration, driving under the speed limit, and making sure the tire pressure is just right.
- Car Pool
If possible, try to carpool to the location you most frequently visit. You will probably be able to find carpool partners at work. Driving your car every other day instead of every day can add up to a lot of savings.
- Be Careful When Repairing Your Car
Everyone wants to repair their car using the manufacturer’s parts. However, that is usually the more expensive options, and in some cases, it doesn’t even have to guarantee a better quality of repair. You should look into aftermarket parts to see if there are any good alternatives to OEM parts. When possible, choose a repair over a replacement — a windshield repair will cost you less than a windshield replacement.
- Shop Around when Buying Insurance
Compare insurance rates before deciding on which insurer to use. Look at their discount structure, and choose the policy that allows you the best discounts on your good driver’s record or loyalty.
- Only Use the Insurance You Need
If you are driving a new car, it pays to have every type of insurance your insurer offers. But for older cars, you might want to consider dropping some types of coverage, like collision or comprehensive coverage. You should always have liability coverage. But if your car has a low value, paying for collision and comprehensive coverage might not be worth the money.