Unless you live in a large city where everything you need is within walking distance, you will want to secure some type of transportation. Whether a car, motorcycle, bike, or moped, you’ll want a way to get to and fro if you don’t reside close to the places you need to get to.
Yes, walking is a viable option. It can be part of your fitness routine. The chances are, however, that you’ll also want a set of wheels to make getting around a little easier at times.
But how can you lower operating, maintenance, and repair costs if you want a car in your driveway? Keep reading for tips on how to make car ownership a less expensive undertaking.
1. Don’t Get More Car Than You Need
While getting a large, gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle or truck might be tempting, do you really need one? What are you looking for in a car? If you live in a town where everything you need is within a relatively short drive from home, you might be able to get by with a small commuter car. It’ll be cheaper, you’ll get better gas mileage, and repair costs will be reasonable.
Another thing to consider is going with two-wheel drive over all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. If you buy a car with AWD or 4WD capabilities, you’ll reduce your odds of getting stuck in the snow during the winter. But it will also mean greater gas consumption. And it’ll also cost more when the time comes to service or completely overhaul your vehicle’s braking system.
If you live in the snow belt or some rural region with lots of snow during the winter, AWD or 4WD capabilities might be must-haves. But if that’s not the case, going with 2WD is a good choice. A 2WD vehicle with good winter tires will be more than enough for the average driver.
2. Share a Car With Someone You Know
Are you the type of person who wants to be able to drive but doesn’t want to own a car? Perhaps you live somewhere close to work, grocery stores, a doctor, and other essential places. You might need a vehicle occasionally to pick up stuff at a big box store or go camping. In such cases, it might be overkill to have a car. A bike or scooter might be all you need. In cases when you need to use a car, you could borrow one from a family member, friend, or neighbor.
Find an insurance company that offers coverage for people who want to borrow someone’s car. You can easily find and compare insurance options by using an online comparison tool like this one. You’ll be able to use a friend or family member’s vehicle and secure insurance coverage. It’s a cost-effective way to be able to use a car as needed. And getting your own policy means the person whose car you borrow won’t have to assume responsibility if you have a mishap.
3. Obey the Rules of the Road
One way to increase your insurance premiums is to habitually break the rules of the road. If you rack up a lot of fines due to speeding or other infractions, your insurer will penalize you. Car insurance rates are determined based on various factors. If you abide by the rules of the road, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary rate hikes that are reserved for drivers who break the law.
4. Ask Insurer How You Can Lower Rates
It doesn’t hurt to ask your insurance company what things you can do to qualify for lower rates. Most insurers will, for example, offer discounts if you have multiple policies with them. So, if you already have a home insurance policy with your insurer, you’ll get a discount if you add auto coverage. It might also be possible to get further discounts if you swap your all-season tires for winter tires during the winter season. Ask your insurer about these types of discounts.
5. Ensure Your Car is Maintained
It’s also important to perform routine maintenance on your vehicle. You can either do it yourself or have a mechanic do it. Check out your car owner’s manual to determine when different procedures, like oil changes, are due. Performing preventive maintenance is key to ensuring your vehicle continues to run properly. It can also prevent small problems from becoming major problems. If you want to avoid getting stranded on the shoulder of a highway, maintain your car.
6. Buy from Reliable Vehicle Manufacturer
You’ll also want to get a car from a reliable car maker. Check out reviews from reputable sources. It’ll quickly become apparent that some automakers make better-quality vehicles than others. If you buy a reliable vehicle model from a car maker known for quality and reliability, the chances are good that you’ll have fewer issues than if you buy a car with questionable quality.
Sometimes the reliable cars are frowned on by consumers as boring. But if you prefer not to have to visit your mechanic too ofen, a boring car might be just what you need.
7. Don’t Spend Beyond Your Means
Some people make the mistake of assuming that it’s no big deal to lock themselves into multi-year car loans simply because they can afford the monthly or bi-weekly payments. Just because you have the cash flow to meet payments doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford the vehicle. If you have to finance a car, don’t extend the payment period longer than you have to. Sure, you’ll want the payments to be manageable. But you won’t want to be locked into paying for a period of five years if you can realistically pay it off in three. Ideally, however, you’ll want to buy a car with cash. Taking on a hefty car loan will make car ownership all the more expensive.
These tips can help if your goal is to lower your car ownership expenses. Alternate modes of transportation can be less expensive and better for your health than sitting behind the wheel of a car. But if you want to or need to own a car, it pays to explore ways to do so more affordably.