Cutting Car Costs

Aside from buying a home, purchasing a car is the biggest expense most Canadians make during their lifetimes. But, the cost doesn’t end at the car dealership. Insurance, gas, maintenance and depreciation are all additional expenses that make car ownership a major part of anyone’s budget.

To find out exactly how much your car costs you each year, try the Driving Costs Calculator from the Canadian Automobile Association.

So, how can you reduce the amount of money you spend on your car? Our advice below will show you some simple ways to save money –

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Gas

The average car owner can expect to spend thousands of dollars a year on fuel each year. However, there are a few simple ways to decrease that amount:

Check your tires: An underinflated tire can make your car less fuel-efficient. This will cause you to fill up your car more often, which costs you money. Check your tire pressure regularly and keep them inflated.

Drive smart: Constant starting and stopping will burn gas more quickly than driving at a constant speed and cruising to a stop. Using cruise control on the highway and avoiding rush hour traffic in the city will help your tank stay full longer.

Compare gas prices: GasBuddy.com is a great resource to help you find the best priced gas in your neighbourhood. When it’s time for a fill-up, check the prices beforehand to get the best deal. Saving a few cents each litre will add up to big savings over the course of a year.

Repairs and Maintenance

Car owners dread taking their vehicles to the mechanic but just like death and taxes, it’s unavoidable! However, there are a few ways you can limit the expense:

Stay on schedule: A well-maintained car will pay big dividends in the end. Be sure to take your car in for regular maintenance to make sure it runs smoothly and lasts for a long time. Getting regular oil changes, changing the antifreeze every one or two years and replacing your air filters are little things that can extend the life of your car.

Find a good mechanic: Taking your cars in for repairs is a little like a leap of faith. You hope you are only paying for what you need – but it’s hard to know for sure. Just like you’d do when looking for a doctor or a babysitter, ask around for some recommendations. A trustworthy mechanic will keep more money in your pocket over the long haul.

Plan for the inevitable: At some point, your car is going to need repairs. Unfortunately, that’s just a fact of car ownership. This expense can wreck your monthly budget if you aren’t prepared so why not save for it in advance? Set aside a little bit of money each month and put it into a “Car Repair Fund”. This way, when repairs are needed, you’ll already have the money to pay for them. This will not only make things easier, but it will also make trips to the mechanic a little less stressful.

Insurance

Even if your car never leaves your driveway, it still costs you. Why? Because of the car insurance you are required to pay every month. You are never going to completely get rid of this expense, but there are a couple of ways you can limit it:

Shop around: Car insurance is a very competitive marketplace. This is a good thing because you have a lot of options when it comes to which company you purchase insurance through. Check out sites like www.insurancehunter.ca to find the best deals available.

* It is important to note that the cost of your insurance varies according to a number of factors. Those include the type of car you drive, your age, how much you drive, and where you live and work. Another important factor is the size of your deductible. Generally speaking, a higher deductible will lower your monthly insurance payment.

Drive safe: Your insurance cost is tied to the risk you present to the insurance company. Just about any violation you get caught for, from speeding to careless driving, could increase your insurance rate. So, if you want to get the best insurance rates possible and save money, focus on obeying the rules of the road and drive carefully. Your bank account will thank you later.

No car equals big savings

The final tip for cutting car costs is the most obvious of all – sell your car. Granted, this option isn’t for everyone but if you live in a city with good public transportation, you could save a lot of money by getting rid of your vehicle all together. If you don’t think this would be possible, why not try it for a week? Park your car in your garage and hide the keys. You might just find that a car isn’t as much of a necessity as you thought it was.

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