7 Best Ways To Save Money On Car Expenses

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: March 28, 2023

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In today’s post, I’m going to show you 7 of the best ways to save money on car expenses.

Because, let’s be honest, cars are expensive.

Between fuel, maintenance, insurance, and even just the purchase price, cars can become quite the financial burden.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a few of the best strategies to help you reduce your car expenses, and thus, help you save some extra money. They are:

  1. Own Your Car Outright
  2. Purchase An Older Car
  3. Cut Your Car Insurance Costs
  4. Drive Less To Save Money On Fuel And Maintenance
  5. Keep Up With Maintenance
  6. Learn Basic Auto Mechanic Skills
  7. Drive Safely And Responsibly

Let’s get started!

7 best ways to save money on car expenses | Be The Budget

1. Own Your Car Outright

Believe it or not, there was a world before car financing! In the not-so-distant past, people paid cash for their cars and purchased a practical vehicle that they could actually afford. 

These days, however, financing a car has become the norm, allowing people to spend money they don’t have on a vehicle they can’t actually afford.

And the hard truth is, when you finance a car, the combination of monthly payments and interest both restrict your financial margin and complicate your financial life.

Therefore, the first, and best way to save money on car expenses is to purchase your car outright! Or, at worst, pay off your loan as quickly as possible so that you own it free and clear.

I realize this goes against the grain of what so many people will tell you to do. But truly, financing a car is one of the worst financial moves you can make.

Not only does it lock you into years of monthly payments, but cars depreciate faster than just about anything on this planet. So, basically, by financing your car, you’re paying extra for something that is becoming less and less valuable.

I don’t know about you, but that has the words “bad financial decision” written all over it!

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2. Purchase An Older Car

As I mentioned, cars depreciate faster than almost any product you can purchase. And the newer the car, the faster it drops in value.

Therefore, if you want to save money on car expenses, one of the best things you can do is purchase used a car that is at least 3 to 4 years old.

By that point, the car will be have done the majority of its depreciating, and thus, will lose value at a much slower rate. Plus, used cars are less expensive, making them easier to purchase outright!

With used cars, you also have the ability to negotiate the price–especially if you buy one from a private seller.

Oh, and to top it all off, older cars typically come with lower registration fees, lower taxes, and cheaper insurance (more on that in the next section).

We’re talking savings galore!

3. Cut Your Car Insurance Costs

The average cost of full coverage car insurance in the US is $1,674 per year; or an eye-watering $139.50 per month. (source

But fortunately, there are ways to drive your insurance payments down.

The first thing to do is shop around.

You should never go with the very first quote that you’re offered, as there are so many insurance providers on the market. 

In fact, you should begin your research by using a car insurance comparison site like Insurify or EverQuote and see what offers are presented when you submit your details. While it can take a few minutes to fill in all of the necessary information, it’s definitely worth the potential savings.

Oh, and after you receive quotes from your initial search, contact the companies directly before agreeing to the prices offered. You can usually negotiate a further discount from a sales rep when you speak to them over the phone. 

Another thing to consider is bundling your insurance policies together.

For instance, if you’re a multi-car family, or if you’re a homeowner, you can usually put your car on the same policy.

More often than not, you will pay a reduced premium when you insure more than one item on the same policy. 

What’s more, it makes your life a lot easier, as you can manage all of your insurance policies from the same online portal.

4. Drive Less To Save Money On Fuel And Maintenance

Just because you have a car, doesn’t mean you need to use it all the time.

The more you use your car, the more gas you have to buy, and the more you’ll have to spend on maintenance like new tires, new brakes, and oil changes. 

For instance, you could ride your bike, or walk whenever you need to run errands close to home. Not only is that good for your budget, but it’s also much better for your health than sitting in your car the whole time. 

If you live in a city, you should also consider using public transportation whenever possible.

Not only will it help you save on car expenses, but when you don’t have to focus on driving, you can use the extra time to be productive.

Plus, you won’t ever have to worry about getting a parking spot!

Finally, if you’re looking for a great way to save money on gas, consider getting a wholesale club membership, like Sam’s Club. Their fuel prices are typically much lower than regular gas stations, which can save you big time over the course of time!

To be clear, there will be certain times when you need to get behind the wheel, and that’s perfectly fine, too! After all, having a car gives you that freedom to move around as and when you like. 

But if you want to save money on car expenses, one of the best things you can do is drive less.

5. Keep Up With Maintenance

When it comes to car ownership, one of the best ways to avoid big, painfully expensive repairs is to keep your car well-maintained.

Lots of little things can go wrong with cars, so the more TLC you give to your vehicle, the better it will perform in the long run. 

Any car owner can do the following things to keep their car well maintained: 

  • Consistently check your tire pressure. Ensuring your tires are correctly inflated will save you money on fuel and will reduce their overall wear and tear. 
  • Check your oil and fluid levels. These simple checks will keep your engine running smoothly and will help you avoid huge repair bills.
  • Wash your car every week. Keep your car’s bodywork clean and remove any leaves and bird droppings. A clean car is a healthy car, and it protects your bodywork.

There’s nothing difficult about the maintenance tips listed above, and a quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know about keeping your car maintained. 

Even if you have to take your car to a local (affordable) mechanic, consistent maintenance is the best way to avoid major engine problems.

6. Learn Basic Auto Mechanic Skills

In addition to the maintenance skills that we’ve listed above, you can save money on your monthly car expenses by learning some basic mechanic skills. 

Now, before you get carried away, you don’t need to go to community college to do an apprenticeship! In the wonderful age of the internet, it’s so easy to self-teach by watching various YouTube tutorials and signing up for free courses. 

Things like changing a tire and changing light bulbs on your car can save you from having to pay labor costs at a local garage, which are always the most significant expense on your final bill. 

If you teach yourself the basics, as well as what to look out for under the hood of your car, you can order additional parts yourself and do the work in your own driveway.

Seriously, if you can learn some basic mechanic skills you can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every year.

And the more cars you own, the more these skills will benefit your financial life!

7. Drive Safely And Responsibly 

Reckless driving serves absolutely no purpose.

Not only are you endangering yourself and other road users, but you’re also putting additional strain on your car. 

Beyond that, if your driving behavior results in a collision, you can expect a hefty repair bill or a high excess payment on your insurance.

Remember, it’s not good business for insurance companies to take on reckless drivers!

So, stick to the speed limit, put your phone down, and focus on driving responsibly.

This is one of the simplest ways to save money on car expenses.

Final Thoughts

Saving money on car expenses isn’t as challenging as you might think. 

Like many other aspects of budgeting and money management, common sense goes a long way.

For instance, when you’re in the market for a car, make sure you go for something you can afford. While a flashy new ride might seem like a good idea, the financial burden of car payments, excessive insurance premiums, and depreciation can wreak havoc on your financial progress.

Equally, by driving responsibly, teaching yourself some basic mechanic and maintenance skills, or just driving less often, you can save quite a bit of money.

So, how do you plan to save money on car expenses?

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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