Next to your home, your car is probably one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make in your life. And the problem is, there’s no getting around associated expenses. Unless you’re somehow fortunate enough to live within walking distance of everything you need to do and everyone you need to see, chances are you’ve got at least one car sitting in your driveway. And chances are also that said car is sucking up more of your cash than you’d like it to. The bad news is that you’re most likely stuck with being a car owner for the foreseeable future. The good news is that the amount of money you’re currently pouring into that four-wheeled cash vacuum can be severely curtailed. Here’s how!
Studies show driving above or below the speed limit is a surefire way to waste gas. Once a car hits 80 miles per hour, the miles per gallon can drop to as low as 20. Similarly, if you’re going too slow, your car’s engine is working harder and accomplishing less, meaning that you’re burning fuel and getting very little in return. This also holds true for speeding up and slowing down on the road, another guaranteed fuel-burner. In order to maximize fuel efficiency and keep your money in your pocket and out of your gas tank, try and keep your car in a sweet spot anywhere between 35 and 60, depending on the road you’re on.
Choose Your Oil Wisely
It might not seem like it, but oil viscosity matters (10W-30, 20W-50, etc.). If you opt to ignore the oil grade that your owner’s manual recommends, then you could be shortening your car’s engine life by a lot. The wrong viscosity could lead to the engine’s metal surfaces grinding together, which, if left unchecked, is the recipe for disaster. Additionally, the harder your engine has to work, the more you’re lowering your gas mileage. In short, take a minute to read the manual, find out what kind of oil your car takes and use only that.
There are countless ways to save big-time dollars on insurance, many of which might never have occurred to you. For example, if your car is more than 10 years old, or if the cost of repairing it is worth more than the car itself, consider dropping collision coverage from your policy. Also, reach out to your insurer to see if they offer devices that monitor your driving habits. If your road rage and lead foot are under control, you could save as much as 30% from some insurers. Lastly, be sure to check your daily mileage. If your office is close to home or (even better) if you work from home, you might be driving less than the average yearly miles for most cars and, therefore, be eligible for a reduced rate!
Handle Your Own Repairs
Yes, obviously some things are going to be beyond your ability, but simple fixes like replacing your own air filters, changing your own oil or even learning how to rotate your own tires could end up saving you a bundle in the long run. This also goes for simple things like replacing wiper blades and brake lights, which can be done quickly and cheaply right in your own driveway. Make sure you study up before trying anything yourself and, if you feel like you’re in over your head, then leave it to the pros. But if you can teach yourself enough basic repairs to keep your car out of the shop more regularly, the rewards will speak for themselves.
For more on ways drivers can save money, also see:
Jeremy has authored several biographies for young readers, including books on Stevie Wonder and Ursula K. Le Guin. He spent 10 years working for WWE, editing the company's magazine and helping the creative writing team as well. He's also a novelist, with his latest book hitting shelves this year!