12 easy ways to cut automotive costs
Tips that will save you money and wear and tear on your vehicle.
Licensing. Insurance. Oil changes. Tires. Dead batteries. Brakes. Fuel. If buying a car is a big bill, just owning one can nickel and dime your budget to death. Short of parking your car, here are some simple ways to cut the cost of operating any vehicle. Try these tips — most of which have the dual benefit of saving wear and tear on your vehicle while lowering automotive expenses — and stop blowing money out your tailpipe.
Slow down. According to the Energy Department, a vehicle's fuel efficiency begins to drop rapidly as speed increases over 50 mph. On average, each 5 mph over 50 is the equivalent of paying 23 cents more for each gallon of fuel. On the highway, driving the speed limit instead of "10 over" can save 10 to 15 percent on fuel. Use your cruise control to maintain that steady speed, which also will increase efficiency.
Plan your trips. Try to combine your daily errands, or roll those errands and your commute into one trip. Then come up with the most efficient route. Think ahead to avoid traffic that may hurt your fuel economy and plan a route that avoids left turns. Traffic studies by the delivery service UPS found that when its trucks were routed to avoid left turns, they saved time and fuel, simply because they were not waiting for traffic to make that left turn and wasting fuel in the process.
Lighten your load. Driving around with golf clubs, a heavy tool box and the other junk we keep in the trunk can hurt fuel economy, especially on smaller, lighter cars. Removing 100 pounds of unnecessary weight can improve fuel economy by 2 percent, according to the Energy Department. If you use a roof rack for hauling bikes, kayaks and other gear, take it off between adventure trips to improve your vehicle's aerodynamics.
Increase your deductible. If your collision deductible is only $250, raising it to $500 or $1,000 could lower the premium for that portion of your insurance by 15 to 40 percent. According to insurance statistics, an average driver makes a collision claim only once every 11 years, and reports a total loss only once every 50 years, so it's likely you'll come out ahead. If you are driving an older car with minimal value, consider dropping collision coverage altogether, especially if you don't mind driving around with a new dent in your old beater.
Pay your entire premium. Most insurance companies charge a fee — often as high as $10 — for paying an auto insurance premium in monthly installments. If the policy is for six months or a year, pay the entire amount upfront. If you cancel the policy later, the insurance company will refund the unused portion.
Ask about discounts.Make sure you are getting all the discounts available from your insurer. Many offer a discount for insuring multiple vehicles, for those who also buy homeowners or other insurance policies, for low-mileage drivers and for those who complete driver-training courses.
No tickets.The fine for a couple of speeding tickets can be less than the increase in insurance premiums you'll pay for years once they show up on your record, especially if you are a younger driver or if the infractions are of the "excessive speed" variety. Two or more moving violations in a year can bump you into a high-risk category and double the premium. A single violation for driving while intoxicated can land you in the high-risk pool for years.
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I always change my own oil. There is too much risk in letting someone else get under my car or truck and screw something up. I've heard too many horror stories of someone taking their car to a mechanic. When I do it, I know it's done right. It takes less time out of my day and costs less money.
I do all of my own maintenance. The dealership quoted me $1000 for a timing belt replacement. HA!!! It costs less then $300 to do it yourself.
The advise to not change the engine oil on your own is not right. Changing engine oil is the simplest tast that one can 'Master' on their own as build up the skills from changing oils.
All oils of same specs (e.g 5W 20) is of the same quality, whether you buy from Walmart or at the car dealer's.
But, be sure the oil container has "API" (American Petroleum Institute) symbol on it. There should be a donut (round shaped) symbol which contains the letters "API" on it.
The API sets the oil standards. So, you may find the same quality of oil at a higher cost at your dealers that if you buy at Walmart or other retail chain.
As a mechanic with 20 years experience and training I can tell you that the oil manufacturers are the ones that say to change your oil at 3000 miles or 3 months. Reasoning is that the chemical packages they they use in the oil starts to breakdown due to age and oxidation and the protection that those chemicals offer wears out. Oil itself never wears out and can be recycled/cleaned/ and new chemicals added.
Vehicle manifacturers determined that they can make the engine last throughout the warranty period with less maintenance and they don't care beyond that because they do not want you to keep your vehicle forever. How else are they going to sell new cars?
All fluids and filters should be changed regularly to prevent extensive and costly repairs.