Even people who love fast cars like to save money when they can, so if there were a few easy ways you could save money on the car you already own, you’d try them, right?
The reality is, there are several little things you can do every day that will add up to big savings after a few months, or a year. Here are just a few:
- Be smart at the pump. While the myth that it’s least expensive to fill your tank in the morning has been disproven, it’s true that you’re perfectly fine using the lowest grade allowable. For most cars, that’s going to be 87 octane unleaded fuel, but some performance cars and hybrids might require more expensive gasoline. If you aren’t certain about what your car needs, check your owner’s manual.
- Don’t guess, use GPS. Plot your route before you leave home, so you can find the shortest, fastest way to get from point A to point B, and be sure to follow the GPS system’s prompts. This will save time and gas, which in turn will save money. Don’t have a GPS system? Use the mapping function of your smart phone, but be sure not to check it while you’re actually driving. Instead, use a mounting bracket and hands-free technology.
- Cruise along. If you’re on the freeway, set that cruise control. Not only will it regulate your speed, keeping you from accelerating and draining gas you don’t really need, but it will also let you relax the foot that’s generally on the gas pedal, making your ride a lot more comfortable. If you’re in town, stick with the posted speed limit. Not only will you avoid getting a ticket, but most city streetlights are timed to the speed limit, so you’ll also avoid some of those red lights.
- Maintenance matters. You know that little sticker that tells you when your next oil change is due? It’s NOT a decoration. Fresh oil and a clean filter will improve your car’s performance and you’ll use less gas. As long as you’re changing the oil, check your tire pressure as well. Improperly inflated tires are one of the most common causes of bad gas mileage. (They can also be dangerous.)
- Consider your insurance. Okay, you can’t go out and change insurance companies as easily as you can add air to your tires or refill your gas tank with cheaper fuel, but you can make a point of assessing your car insurance needs once or twice a year, and if you think you’re paying too much, shop around for cheap auto insurance on the web. Not only do different companies offer slightly different base rates, but some offer pay-as-you-drive programs, so those of us with short commutes pay less than people who drive an hour and a half to work every day, and some even give you discounts for having a clean driving record or being a loyal customer.
Let’s face it: none of these ideas are terribly innovative, but they’re not terribly difficult, either. By being a better driver and a more responsible car owner, you can save money for something really important – like the Tesla Roadster 2.5, or a really cool paint job on your vintage ‘Vette.