Car ownership is an investment that gives you the freedom and flexibility to travel on your terms. But as car owners know, it can be expensive. Besides budgeting for the payments, you must plan for the costs associated with registration, insurance, fuel, and routine and emergency maintenance.
Here are six ways you can save money and preserve the value of your car:
1. Read the Owner’s Manual
The owner’s manual is a car owner’s best friend when it comes to saving money. It will tell you exactly what routine maintenance you need and when to do it to ensure your car runs smoothly. People often get work done to their vehicles that they didn’t really need.
A common example is oil changes. Back in the day, cars needed an oil change every 3,000 miles or 3 months. But today’s modern cars can go a lot farther between changes — many suggest 7,500 miles or every 6 months. If you are getting serviced well before the manufacturer’s recommended mileage, you’re spending too much. So be sure to check your owner’s manual to see what’s right for your vehicle.
Here’s how unnecessary oil changes add up: According to the Kelley Blue Book, oil services typically cost between $35 and $125 depending on where you go and if you use conventional or synthetic oil. Let’s say you drive 12,000 miles each year. Based on the old guidelines, you might expect to spend between $140-$500 for 4 oil changes per year. If you followed your car’s recommended schedule of 7,500 miles or six months, you would expect to spend $70-$150 for 2 changes instead.
2. Keep a Maintenance Log
Keeping a record of your vehicle maintenance is an easy way to preserve your car’s value. When it comes time to sell or trade it in, proof that the vehicle was cared for to the manufacturer’s specifications demonstrates its reliability. That peace of mind is attractive to a savvy potential buyer.
3. Check Your Tire Pressure
Are your tires properly inflated? Under inflated tires wear through their tread quicker and reduce your gas mileage.
Underinflated tires are also dangerous — they negatively affect your car’s handling, increase your stopping distance, and are the leading cause of blowouts. These factors greatly influence your chances of being in an accident, which means costly bills to fix your car, potential hospital bills, and increased insurance premiums.
Your car’s recommended tire pressure appears in the owner’s manual as well as on a sticker when you open the driver’s door. If your car doesn’t digitally display your tire pressure, you’ll have to check it manually from time to time with a tire pressure gauge. If it’s low, top it off the next time you fill up your tank. By California law, compressed air is free at gas stations with the purchase of fuel — just ask the cashier to turn it on.
4. Prioritize Alignment
Don’t ignore the early signs of wheel alignment problems — like a vibrating steering wheel or a slight “pull” to one side when driving — thinking it’s no big deal. Fixing the problem typically costs between $100 and $200 and putting it off can lead to more expensive problems, so it’s best to address it sooner rather than later.
Bad alignment is expensive. It lowers your gas mileage, so you’ll find yourself at the pump more often. It also unevenly wears your tires, which means you may have to buy a new set. If you purchased a lifetime warranty on your tires, you might find the policy void, since many are contingent on having your alignment maintained. Bad alignment also stresses your car’s suspension system. If you have to replace your shocks and struts, you can expect a bill of at least $1,000.
5. Get a Car Wash
Getting your car washed and detailed from time to time helps preserve your car’s value by protecting surfaces and removing particles that can damage your paint. Having clean windows and mirrors is also an important safety issue. Dust increases the glare from the sun or another driver’s headlights, decreasing your visibility and increasing your chances of an accident.
6. Drive More Efficiently
Driving efficiently can help you make the most out of your gas mileage. Use cruise control to maintain consistent speeds, and avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving strains your fuel economy and accelerates wear and tear on your vehicle. Remove any unnecessary cargo — according to the EPA, each additional 100 pounds you carry reduces your miles per gallon by 1%.
Bonus Tip — Fuel Up with SESLOC Rewards
- Swipe – Swipe your SESLOC debit card at the beginning of your transaction at a participating gas station pump or at the register.
- Select – If you have earned at least 2,000 points, the screen will prompt you to use these points for $.50 cents off per gallon.
- Save – Fuel up and save $.50 cents off per gallon, up to 20 gallons.