The family car is expensive, but that doesn't mean
you can't exercise some control. A few dollars consistently saved
add up big at the end of the year.
Walk, carpool and use these tips to cut costs on daily
travel now and you may just bank enough for a road trip next
1 Lay off the
Unless you're driving in extreme conditions, you're fine
to go a little longer between oil changes than your father might
have you believe. What's extreme? Consumer Reports defines it as
stop-and-go driving, frequent towing, mountainous terrain or dusty
conditions. According to the experts, modern engines require oil
changes only every 7,500 miles or so.
2 Puff up the
Driving on an underinflated tire can increase the chances
of blowout, which could cause an accident. Luckily there is an easy
fix: Invest in a tire gauge. Find the sticker inside the driver's
side door and make sure your tires are inflated to the PSI (per
square inch) indicated. Pay extra attention once the weather turns
cold. Check the pressure monthly (the spare, too) and add air at
almost any gas station.
3 Save for a rainy
It's never sunny when your car breaks down. Having money
set aside for emergencies means you won't have to put expensive
repairs on credit cards with high interest. Take this strategy a
step further by setting aside the funds to cover regular
maintenance, too. Oil changes may not break the bank, but brake
jobs, tires and windshields can be costly. Saving for these
big-ticket items in small increments eases the pain of a large
payment when the time inevitably comes.
Review your insurance needs annually to ensure you still
have the correct amount of coverage. If you didn't file a claim or
get a ticket, ask for a rate adjustment for good behavior! And
whatever you do, stay covered. Lapses in insurance coverage will
cost you. Even a one-day gap could be expensive. Even if the fates
are with you and you don't have an accident, insurance companies
can use discrepancies in coverage to justify charging a higher rate
when you reinstate.
5 Buy cheap
Premium gas is a racket. Unless your manual specifically
recommends high-dollar gasoline, skip it. High-octane gas only
benefits high performance cars-the kind that don't accommodate car
seats and soccer gear.
Invest the time to find a trustworthy mechanic.
Recommendations from friends and family are usually your best bet,
and social media makes gathering this kind of information quick and
easy. If you're new in town or your networks are coming up empty,
sites like repairpal.com can help you find certified mechanics
vetted by real customers. Some of these sites also estimate the
cost of common repairs so you know what to expect before you get to
Take advantage of grocery and club stores that offer
rewards for using their gas stations. A few cents off a gallon of
gasoline may not sound like much, but these savings add up over the
course of a year.
8 Buy used and don't
You may have to forego the new car smell, but a
later-model used car can still feel new if you shop around. You
will save significantly by being the second owner of a car. Dealers
often offer certifications and limited warranties to ease any
worries about performance. Just do your homework and be prepared to
negotiate. To get the best insurance rates for a used car, look for
factory-installed airbags and alarms. Pick a car and stick with it
until the repair bills outweigh the cost of buying something new
(to you). If you need something novel and shiny, try
Lela Davidson recently paid off her 2007 Toyota RAV4, which she plans to keep as long as she can because it’s a sweet ride without a payment. She is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA, a collection of irreverent essays about motherhood and the modern family.
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