How to Save on your Car in the New American Economy

by Darwin on February 3, 2012

The following is a guest post:

Cars are part of the American dream. Owning a new car or even a pre-owned car that’s in good condition can be a great feeling, particularly for the millions of Americans who spend a few hours or more a day in their cars. Whether you need extra room and comfort for a large family or just a pleasant, smooth ride, the desire for a quality car is very understandable.

But owning and operating a car can become a huge expense, often needlessly so. Nobody can control the price of gas, but everyone is at the mercy of its fluctuations, and it can be very difficult to cut back on the miles just because of a price hike at the pump.

Understanding a car’s gas mileage before buying it can make a big difference in the monthly cost of operating the vehicle. For example, if your commute is a mix of city and highway driving, your car is unlikely to achieve its peak miles-per-gallon listed on the sticker. In this case, you should plan for a higher operating cost or seek a vehicle with higher fuel efficiency.

Although paying cash or mostly cash for a vehicle is often a good decision, few people have the money to do so and generally pursue financing options. Often, buyers focus on the sticker price and don’t anticipate major costs like taxes, registration fees and other line items that can suddenly make a monthly payment much higher. Also, extended warranties are often offered right at the time of payment. Some studies have shown, however, that the warranties themselves often end up being more expensive than the repairs they cover.

Repair costs can be hard to anticipate over the life of a car, but a little research during the buying process about the reliability of various models can save a lot of money over the course of five or ten years.

Constantly being on the lookout for good deals on car insurance can lower operating costs as well. Many consumers fail to realize that they have the ability to jump on a better deal for car insurance at no extra cost to them. Using the Internet to search for good insurance deals is one of the biggest ways car owners can control their operational costs.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol@inthetrenches February 4, 2012 at 1:26 am

I have now made it without a car for almost 2 1/2 years. My bus rides to and from work allow much added time to read my favorite books. When I do need a ride someplace I pay for gas and get one from a family member. So much nicer than spending the money I used to! It saves almost $250 per month that I can designate for other things.


krantcents February 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I have 2 old (17 & 15 years old) cars that I want to replace soon. I am very conflicted about getting a luxury car or economical car. Both my wife and I drive very little (7,500-8,500 miles per year). I hate the idea of payments and high gas prices. I guess that is why I have not pulled the trigger. Our cars are economical and very reliable so it is a choice.


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