Dad’s Advice on Managing Expenses Related to your Car

2008 toyota highlander hybrid, whiteMy oldest has her own car, and I’m always interested in watching how she manages one of the least obvious, but most important parts of car ownership: all those darn ancillary expenses. Whether it’s gasoline, oil changes, new tires or general maintenance, I’m convinced that she hasn’t yet realized cars cost more than just the initial sticker price to drive it off the lot.

Thing of it is, in our culture car ownership and driving is a luxury. Having your own car can make you feel a huge sense of freedom, knowing you can take to the road, head to a friend’s house, the store, a late night pizzeria or anywhere else your heart desires, whenever you want. It can also make your life a lot easier to have a car or truck. She has a cute Audi SUV that’s like a small version of my old Toyota Highlander (pictured), and it’s easy to drive and handles well in inclement weather.

I’m trying to teach her and she’s mostly realized that owning a car is a big financial responsibility. New cars can insulate you from most expenses in the first few years (hopefully) but eventually every car requires constant upkeep and maintenance, which comes with a high price tag. More importantly, you need to stay on top of these maintenance tasks to ensure it’s running and safe to drive.

Whether you have a Dad trying to impart a fiscal responsibility lesson or not, there are times when the expenses related to your vehicle might seem overwhelming. Instead of getting stressed out with how much money you stand to lose, however, there are some smart solutions that are worth learning about. Here are some tips on how to better manage car expenses and save some of your hard-earned cash.

Insurance Policies

Regardless of what state you’re in, you’re required by law to have an insurance policy. Driving without insurance can result in some serious fines and even get your license suspended for a long period of time. In fact, boring as the topic may be, insurance serves a very important purpose for drivers and can prove invaluable in the event of an accident. You don’t want to be sued or told you have to pay to fix a fancy BMW or Lamborghini after a fender bender! With so many companies in this business, it’s common for drivers to spend far more than they should on their insurance policies. In point of fact, you might even have taken out a plan you don’t actually need or are paying higher rates than you should based on your driving record and credit rating.

Getting better coverage with lower premiums is entirely possible. All you have to do is shop around for quotes from different companies: There are a lot of companies offering different insurance plans to cover your automobile needs, don’t just stick with what you’ve always had without some investigation into alternatives. Indeed, when she’s ready to be on her own policy, I’ll be encouraging my daughter to discover the perfect fit for her by taking a look at options with local insurance companies rather than just using the agency I’m with. Plenty of people who do the search find that an insurance agent more suited to handle your policy is right in your community.

Saving money with lower premiums on your auto insurance is an excellent way to help with expenses related to your car.

Oil Changes

full car closeup, game of lifeOf all the maintenance tasks associated with your vehicle, oil changes rank among the most important. The oil in your engine helps keep everything running smoothly and without any wear and tear too, so fresh oil can make your car’s engine run better, last long and give you better fuel efficiency. Most modern cars need an oil change every five months or 5,000 miles, though older cars or those with a lot of miles already on the odometer will benefit from more frequent oil changes. Changing your oil on-time is important because it keeps your vehicle lubricated and performing optimally.

If you want to keep your vehicle running at its best, you need to both get your oil changed and pay attention to any other services either needed by mileage or performance. Most common is a tune-up, which is an excellent service every 10,000-25,000 miles (depending on vehicle) because it is relatively inexpensive — typically between $100 – $300 — and helps you identify any potential problems that might be on the horizon. You’ll be able to avoid a serious and costly disaster down the line just by taking the time to have it checked out and probably fixed while it’s just a small problem.

Gasoline Problems

Many drivers also waste a lot of money on fuel; your car needs a specific type of gasoline to run but unless it specifies otherwise, just about every modern car can work just fine on the lower octane of regular unleaded gasoline. No need to pay the premium for, well, premium gasoline. To be more specific, unless your car owner manual specifically states that you need to use a higher octane fuel, just use regular unleaded and you’ll save every single time you refill the tank. You could easily be wasting hundreds of dollars each year by spending more on gasoline that your car doesn’t even need.

As I keep reminding my daughter, owning a car comes with a lot of responsibility, including financial responsibility. Save some of your money for a car maintenance fund and remember to save money on expenses related to your car by looking for lower priced insurance options, keeping your vehicle maintained, changing your oil regularly and focusing on filling your tank with the right gasoline.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

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