Smart Ways To Save Your Automotive Dollars

DriverSide gives you some helpful tips and advice on the best way to save money while owning your car.
By Alison Lakin and Brian Alexander
Buying a car today is a tougher decision than the average person realizes. With a combination of growing environmental awareness, rising oil prices, a depreciating American Dollar and increasingly complex automotive engineering practices – not to mention the fact that there are more vehicle choices than ever before – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when choosing your next car.

Joni Gray, Senior Editor at the Los Angeles Times automotive section, agrees. “Because of the internet, the average car buyer has a huge amount of information at their fingertips, leveling the playing field for monetary savings. Information about the immediate drop in price once you drive a new car off the lot, the quality of brands and upcoming technology is highly publicized and easily available."

After deciding on what car to purchase – and writing that first big check – keeping your monthly ownership costs to a minimum is your next major burden. Some vehicle expenditures are predictable and can be factored into a monthly budget, like car and insurance payments. Choose your new or used car wisely as minor choices like turbo or non-turbocharged, all-wheel drive and snazzy options can effect the financial burden of vehicle ownership massively.

Unfortunately other expenditures like unexpected maintenance can be more difficult to work into a budget.

According to Gray, warranties can be lifesavers during the first few years with your car. "What’s driving vehicle purchases now are things like excellent warranties. Buying a car isn't only about the initial purchase price being affordable, but it’s also about what it costs to operate that car. A warranty will ease the worry of expenses getting out of hand."

Planning ahead can save you a lot of money – not to mention heartache – as a car owner. Below you’ll find DriverSide’s top recommendations on how to minimize fixed costs, such as insurance payments, and how to factor in those hard to predict unexpected costs too.

“There are many ways the car owner can cut down on costs," says Gray, “and with information coming at us constantly, it's never been easier to do so."

Buy A Certified Used Car Instead Of A New Car
Your initial car purchase can net you immediate savings. A new car, once driven off the lot, depreciates instantly, but a certified used car, backed by the manufacturer, comes with a warranty, giving you that instant security without the hefty new car price tag.

Shop Around For Your Insurance Rates
Insurance adds up as a big part of your car ownership expenses, but you have more options for this purchase than you think. Try shopping around online or through an insurance broker for the best deals. Those few moments of your time can help to shave off a few dollars from this monthly, and mandatory expense.

Reduce Your Fuel Consumption
Rising gas prices has been all over the news, but how many of us really know how to reduce our fuel costs? Try altering your driving techniques and keeping up with your car’s maintenance. These two simple steps can dramatically lower your gas consumption and save you big, big money at the pump.

Get Dealer And Local Shop Quotes For Repairs
Once your car is out of warranty, you’ll have a wider choice as to where to take your car for repairs and maintenance. Dealers may have brand-specific experience, but local shops can offer more reasonable prices and personal service. It's important to weigh the pros and cons of both types of places.

Compare Dealer Installed Accessories To Aftermarket Prices
While it may be tempting to check all the options boxes when buying a new car, certain options and gadgets are much cheaper – and more advanced – when you get them from an aftermarket company. From big ticket items like stereos and GPS units to small accessories like floor mats and windshield wipers, take some time and get the facts before spending your hard-earned cash on a dealer option.

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