Purchasing a car is usually the second largest purchase a consumer makes in their lifetime, falling just below buying a house. Most people spend hours doing diligent research to ensure they find a safe and reliable vehicle, but often overlook the costs of maintaining a vehicle. Routine maintenance plays a vital role in the lifespan of your car or truck. However, there are strategies that you can use to save money over the lifetime of your vehicle. Let’s go over a few ways to save you money on car expenses.

Save money on fuel:

  • Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your fuel mileage. The correct tire pressure is usually listed on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. Tires lose on average 2 pounds of pressure every month, so it’s good to check the tire pressure monthly.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. This includes rapid acceleration, hard braking and speeding. Studies show that aggressive driving can lower your fuel mileage by 33% at highway speeds. It’s best to use cruise control when driving on the highway.
  • If the vehicle is parked and waiting, don’t let the engine idle for too long. This is especially true in colder areas where people let their car warm up before driving. Most manufacturers recommend driving your vehicle slowly for 30 seconds after starting it instead of letting it idle to reach operating temperatures.

Insurance:

  • Do some shopping around to make sure you are paying the best price possible for your insurance. There are many reliable websites that will allow you to compare auto insurance quotes side by side.
  • Contact your insurance company and make sure you are getting all of the discounts possible. Many insurance companies offer discounts for low mileage, safe driving history, and having anti-theft devices.
  • You can increase your deductible to get a lower monthly premium. The only downside of this is you will have to pay more out of pocket if you file a claim.

Maintenance:

  • Follow your manufacturer's suggested service intervals. Studies show that a poorly maintained vehicle used 25%-33% more fuel each year.
  • Remove and clean or replace your vehicle's air filter monthly. A dirty air filter can reduce an engine’s efficiency and can reduce mileage by up to 10%.
  • Having your tires balanced and rotated once a year can save you money and make your tires last longer. Improperly balanced tires can add stress to your suspension components leading to more expensive repairs.

Repairs:

  • Maintenance doesn’t just include oil changes, tires and spark/glow plugs. Regularly checking fluid levels such as oil, transmission fluid, and coolant can help you spot problems before they become larger issues.
  • Be aware of any changes while driving, or lights on your dashboard. If you notice a new sound, vibration or any change in performance, have your vehicle checked by a certified technician as soon as possible.
  • One more thing to check for is fluids underneath your vehicle. Running your air conditioning on a hot day will cause condensation to collect beneath your car and shouldn’t alarm you. However, any leaking fluid could cause a much larger problem in the future. Also check around your wheels for any fluid periodically. Some brake components have rubber seals that can leak and do severe damage to your stopping ability.