Written by Spotloan

From work and trips to the grocery store to medical visits and weekends away, we rely on our cars to get us where we need to go every day. And while there are plenty of car-related expenses that can’t be avoided, there are things we can do to minimize additional expenses. 

Luckily for us, in addition to saving us money, many of those tasks also tend to make our vehicles safer and more efficient. So, here are some of the best ways to reduce car-related expenses: 

Keep Up with Routine Vehicle Maintenance 

This is one tip that anyone with vehicle knowledge will give you, but what is routine maintenance on a car? And how much does car maintenance cost? Routine maintenance includes, among other things: 

  • Checking your tire pressure once per month
  • Getting an oil change every 3,000 miles or six months (whichever comes first and depending on your car’s specifications)
  • Having your tires rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles 
  • Replacing your brake pads, belts, and fluids regularly (check your owner’s manual to determine how often)

Performing regular, affordable routine maintenance tasks can help prevent larger problems from developing down the road and costing an arm and a leg in repairs. In addition to prolonging the life of your vehicle, routine maintenance is another opportunity to spot potential problems. 

Many oil changes include diagnostic checks, which can help catch potential issues before they become costly emergency fixes that leave you scrambling and without a vehicle. 

Drive Safely 

It may sound like an obvious suggestion, but there’s more than one reason to follow the rules of the road. In addition to helping us avoid costly collisions and subsequent repairs, safe driving can also extend the lives of our vehicles. 

Obey the speed limit, try to slow down gradually rather than slamming on the brakes, and accelerate cautiously rather than rapidly. Safe driving can minimize repair costs, help us avoid insurance spikes, prolong our vehicles’ lives, and save us money on gas.  

Be Cautious When Making Vehicle Purchases 

Shopping for a new or used car can be stressful. And it can become even more stressful when we rush into decisions without doing our due diligence first. Being cautious when purchasing a vehicle can help prevent many avoidable problems. 

Shop from reputable dealers and confirm that they or individual sellers have documentation verifying the car’s accident and maintenance history. Research the estimated life in years or mileage range and common problems with any used cars you’re browsing. 

And if you’re exclusively shopping for a new car, make sure that the one you choose comes with a warranty. Car warranties cover damage that occurs from normal use, including manufacturer defects that may affect the engine or transmission and would be costly without a warranty. 

Shop Around for Discounts 

This is a rule that applies to many areas of our financial lives. Negotiating the price of a new or used car is no exception. Many dealers offer price guarantees, which means that if you bring them a lower price in writing within a certain timeframe, they’ll match it. 

Other dealers, as well as individual sellers, might be willing to give you a discount for paying in cash. Ask about your options as you shop to find the best deal. 

Build the Appropriate Vehicle Insurance Policy 

It can be tempting to just maintain the minimum level of auto insurance required by your state. But while this might save you some money on a month-to-month basis, it doesn’t always make the most sense for your particular vehicle or driving habits. 

Do a bit of research to see what the recommended coverage levels are for the year, make, and model of your vehicle, as well as your current mileage and annual estimate. Once you know how much coverage you need, you’ll have a number in mind when you search policy options. 

Insurance providers have a lot of competition, which makes it easy enough to shop around and get the same level of coverage for less money each month. And if you work from home, work part-time, or work close by, ask about a usage-based policy. 

According to Forbes, a usage-based policy can save drivers up to 50 percent on their premiums. This continues to be one of our favorite tips for finding budget-friendly car insurance options.