Owning a car is not cheap. It’s not just the cost of the car itself or your monthly payments that you need to think about. There’s also things like fuel, repairs, maintenance, storage and upgrades.
Your vehicle is more than just a way of getting around. For a lot of people, it is absolutely essential to their lives, as beloved as a pet. Upgrades, therefore, aren’t just cosmetic vanity. Having better seats or a power jack when you drive a lot can be just as vital as fuel and airbags.
However, all of this adds up. That’s why we’re going to provide some car owner tips to save money on buying and owning a car.
There are a lot of ways to save money while buying and owning a car. Don’t let this vital purchase break the bank for you when you can use these six car owner tips to fit your vehicle into your budget.
1. Consider Whether to Buy New or Used
Whether to buy a new or used car is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when deciding on a vehicle. It has a huge impact on your budget not just now, but for the long term.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, so what you choose should depend on your specific circumstances. As with all these car owner tips, your particular budget, needs and lifestyle can drastically change what advice is right for you.
One thing people often overlook when checking out new cars for sale is depreciation values. New cars and used cars will lose value in very different ways. When a car is brand new, that is when it has the highest value. Therefore, the moment you drive it away, it instantly takes a large hit in terms of value.
Used cars will also depreciate in value, but much, much more slowly. They have already taken that initial “new car” hit, so when you buy it, it won’t instantly lose a bunch of value.
This can matter a lot if you find you need to trade in or sell your car. That new car cost you a lot more and is worth a lot less, comparatively. The money you saved on that used car is not only in the upfront cost – it is also in the resale value. If you bought it for $15,000 and it lost value slowly, you can get close to getting your money value.
This may be one reason why used car sales account for three out of every four car sales in the U.S. Still, you shouldn’t let this be the only factor in your decision whether to buy used or new.
One of the most important car owner tips is to pay attention to maintenance and repairs. This is a concern from day one. When you visit a used car dealership, one of the questions you should have on your mind is how well the used car was maintained.
You can and should ask about the maintenance history of the used car. The dealership should be able to give you those kinds of details. You can find out if the car was in any major accidents or if it had a recurring maintenance issue.
This information is crucial because it can add a lot in terms of costs. If the air conditioning is constantly broken in the car, that could cost you a lot of money over time. You want to know that your used car is reliable, and it should be. Just because a car is used does not mean it can’t be just as reliable as a new car.
Other costs associated with car buying may also be cheaper when you buy a used car. You can probably register the vehicle for less money. Plus, you might be able to get a better car for your money. While a brand new luxury car could be out of your budget, a used luxury car could be within your means.
Still, there are plenty of reasons to get a new car. For one thing, it’s simply easier. You know this car is good and has all the latest technology because it’s brand new. You will leave the dealership knowing the entire history of the vehicle without any doubt. Plus, it’s easy to find new cars, whereas you might have to hunt around and get lucky to find the right used car for your needs.
As with all these car owner tips, the right decision comes down to your budget and lifestyle. New cars can save you money over time if a used car needs a lot of repair. But used cars are huge cost savers up front. The right decision depends on how much money you have to spend now and what you need the vehicle for.
2. Consider How Your Vehicle Is Stored
Owning a car isn’t only about the drive to and from work, though. There is so much more that goes into car ownership, including where and how your vehicle is stored.
A lot of cars can simply park at the curb or being stored in a garage, but things like RV storage require more specialized conditions.
Even in the simplest of circumstances, though, you should spare a thought for how your car is stored. Car owner tips tend to focus on the vehicle itself, but the environment the vehicle is in can have a big impact on its maintenance and longevity.
For example, if you are keeping your car in your garage, you definitely want to know that your garage isn’t leaking. If you are trying to protect your vehicle from the elements, it won’t do you much good if weather can creep in anyway. Maintaining the garage itself is in many ways as crucial as maintaining the actual car.
If your car is stored outside, you will face different concerns. For example, you might have to do some tree trimming to keep branches and debris from falling on your car. Large branches that are untended can cause serious damage, so don’t take this lightly.
As far as car owner tips go, thinking about where and how your car is stored is crucial and easy to overlook. If you want your car to be reliable for the long haul, however, you should consider it.
3. Clear Up Past Accidents
Many of us unfortunately have an accident or fender bender in our driving history. These mishaps can linger for far longer than we want them to, driving up insurance costs and plaguing our car ownership history.
To the extent possible, you should try to clear up these kinds of issues. Many of us come to accept that an accident is just going to cost us money forever, but that does not need to be the case. You do have options with investments like this commercial truck insurance, even if you were at fault for a bad accident. That smudge does not need to linger on your insurance and cost you money forever.
For some people, one of the best car owner tips is to invest in a car accident lawyer. These lawyers can help you get rid of the stain of a past accident, removing it from your record entirely in some cases.
You will need to talk to your lawyer about exactly what is possible in this regard, but it doesn’t hurt to try if you have an accident that is still plaguing your driving record. You don’t want to carry around that cost forever if you have a chance of getting rid of it.
In some cases, it could even be quite simple to remove a past accident from your record and bring your car insurance costs down. There may be complicated cases where you need more time and expertise to deal with the issue, but even in such cases it is worth it to attempt this.
4. Keep Up on Maintenance
Once you have your car, or if you already have a car, you should be sure to keep up on maintenance. That can range from simply washing your car once in a while all the way up to boat trailer repair if you use your vehicle for specialized tasks like that.
Maintenance is not fun, but it is one of the most important car owner tips. Slacking on maintenance can add up quickly. A small problem can turn into a major issue, taking you from a small, cheap repair all the way to a fix that takes thousands of dollars to address.
Regular maintenance includes things like oil changes, regularly cleaning and replacing fluids. These are all simple things that shouldn’t cost much time or money. If you are handy, you can look up some car owner tips for how to do these tasks yourself. This can not only save you money since you won’t have to pay for maintenance, but you can learn more about your car by addressing these simple repairs.
For something more serious, such as collision repair, you will probably need a professional to handle the job. This can be costly and many car owner tips focus just on how to mitigate these kinds of costs.
You should always go into the repair shop armed with knowledge. The more you know, the more secure you can feel about however the transaction plays out.
You should also talk to people you trust, like friends and family, for advice and recommendations. They may know a shop that offers coupons or has reliable mechanics whom they trust. A good mechanic can be well worth a little extra cost as, like we’ve said, poor or missed maintenance can end up costing you more down the road.
5. Take a Look at Your Finances Overall
If you are thinking about getting a car or how to save money on the car you already own, you should look at your overall finances.
Owning a car isn’t a one-time purchase, which is why we list this among our top car owner tips. Your overall financial health can be dramatically impacted by owning or maintaining a car.
For example, if you have had to talk to a bankruptcy attorney, the value of your vehicle was likely a topic of concern. A vehicle can be one of the most valuable things you own, so if you are going through a bankruptcy, divorce or other big financial disruption, it could be a topic lawyers focus in on.
Even when the situation is not that dire, taking a look at your overall finances is one of the most reliable car owner tips for saving you money. You might have the means for a car right now, but what do you expect your financial picture to look like in a few months or years? Remember that this car will keep costing you money for years to come, so if your financial picture is rocky, you might want to delay getting a car or find ways to cut back on costs.
If you aren’t sure how to envision your larger financial outlook, accountants can help with this kind of work. They can aid in giving you a realistic picture of what it may mean for your budget to add car payments and repairs to your monthly expenses.
One of the most important car owner tips is simply to take the bigger picture into account. Don’t think you can afford a car just because you can afford it right now. Consider also what the long-term might look like as you spend years with this vehicle.
6. Consider Smart Upgrades
If your financial picture is stable, however, you might consider some upgrades.
We include this among our car owner tips because upgrades can actually increase the value of your car. You can buy a car that is cheaper and, if you have the funds and knowledge, upgrade it into something worth more than what you purchased it for.
Upgrades don’t just mean a fancy radio or a sun roof, either. It could just be better brake controllers, brighter headlights or an improved engine. These bare-bones components are also super important and appealing to buyers.
If you own a car, it can be crucial to find car owner tips to help keep that vehicle within your budget. Fortunately, there are many ways to bring down costs, from buying used to doing some repairs yourself to clearing past accidents off your insurance. Overall, it’s important that you take a look at your budget, make the best deal with your auto insurance company, and make sure you can afford regular maintenance and repair, as neglecting these things can cost you money in the long run.