Buying your first car can be a daunting experience. Of course, there’s the initial cost of the vehicle itself, but then there are all the ongoing costs of ownership, from gas and insurance to maintenance and repairs. According to reports, the average cost of owning a car is nearly $9,000 per year. This is one reason why many people choose to live car-free.
But then, many people still find owning a car to be a necessity. If you’re in this camp, there are ways to minimize the costs of car ownership. These five tips apply to new car owners and anyone looking to save money on their car.
Shop Around for the Best Loan Terms
Some people would rather pay their car off quickly, while others are more interested in keeping their monthly payments low. There’s no right or wrong answer here — it all depends on your personal finances and what you’re comfortable with. If you’re looking to save money in the long run, it’s usually best to get a loan with a lower interest rate.
If you’re financing your new car, shop for the best loan terms. Talk to your local bank or credit union first, as they may offer more competitive rates than the dealership. Before signing the dotted line, compare interest rates, loan terms, and monthly payments.
Get Multiple Quotes for Insurance
Auto insurance can be one of the most significant expenses associated with car ownership. It is also a non-negotiable cost since, in most states, it’s illegal to drive without insurance. While some car owners would get the lowest liability limits to save on their monthly premiums, this could cost you more if you’re in an accident and found at fault.
The best way to save on car insurance is to get multiple quotes from different insurers and compare rates. Once you find a policy that’s right for you, shop around every year to see if you can get a better deal.
You may also want to consider raising your deductible to lower your premium. Just be sure you can afford to pay the higher deductible if you end up in an accident.
Don’t forget to review your insurance needs as your life circumstances change. For example, if you move to a new city or get married, you may be eligible for different discounts. If you use the car for business purposes, you will need a different kind of insurance than if you’re just using it for leisure.
Learn Basic Car Maintenance
Many car owners don’t know how to change a tire, let alone perform more complex maintenance tasks. While you don’t need to be a mechanic to own a car, knowing the basics of car care is still helpful. This will save you labor costs and prevent minor problems from turning into big (and expensive) repairs.
For instance, you should know how to check your oil level and change it when necessary. You should also be familiar with your car’s engine air filter and replace it when it gets dirty. These are just a couple of examples — there are many other simple maintenance tasks you can do on your own to save money.
Take Advantage of Professional Car Services
While knowing how to do basic car maintenance is essential, some tasks are best left to the professionals. Suppose your car needs a tune-up. In that case, you can usually get this done at a local service station for a reasonable price. You may also want to take your car in for regular professional cleanings to keep it looking its best.
Additionally, if you’re ever in an accident, take your car to a reputable body shop. A good body shop will use high-quality parts and materials to repair your car so it looks like new again. The same goes for maintenance tasks beyond your abilities, like fixing a transmission or replacing an engine. Allow the professionals to take care of these tasks to avoid further damage.
You also can hire mobile oil change services when you are too busy to do it yourself or don’t have the time to go to a service station. The pros can take care of your car’s oil needs and do a thorough inspection to see if other areas may need attention. As much as possible, choose a mobile auto service provider offering additional services like mobile tire change and brake services. This way, you already have a go-to team of experts that you can trust should you need other car-related services in the future.
Drive Safely and Defensively
When you practice safe driving habits, you can avoid accidents and prevent wear and tear on your car. This can save you a lot of money in the long run, both in repairs and insurance costs. This will also help keep you and your passengers safe while on the road.
Some safe driving tips include:
- Obeying the speed limit
- Use your turn signals when changing lanes or making turns
- Don’t tailgate other drivers
- Keep a safe following distance between your car and the one in front of you
- Avoid driving in bad weather whenever possible
- Don’t drive when you’re tired
- Never drink and drive
- Pay attention to the road at all times
If you follow these tips, you can avoid accidents and costly repairs. You’ll also find that your car insurance rates may be lower if you have a clean driving record.
Owning a car can be a wonderful experience. It can give you the freedom to travel and explore. However, remember that cars require time, money, and effort to maintain. By following the tips in this article, you can keep your vehicle running smoothly for years to come and avoid spending a fortune on repairs.