Having a car is an asset and an expense for most people. If you don’t prioritize what you spend on your car, you could wind up throwing money away on auto expenses that have a negative return on investment for your vehicle.
From expensive gas to driving recklessly, here are some of the most common auto expenses that drain your bank account.
Buying Expensive Gasoline
Gas prices climbed to historic heights in 2022, but that doesn’t mean you need to purchase premium gas every time you visit the pump. You can still buy regular gas to fuel your car.
Zach Wimpey, operations manager at Craig and Landreth Cars, said while some high-performance engines — like those seen in Corvettes and other premium automobiles — do require premium fuel, this type of gas isn’t necessary for all cars. Unless your owner’s handbook explicitly states that premium fuel is needed, Wimpey said don’t spend the extra money for it.
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Buying High-End Tires
When the time comes to buy new hires, do you really need to buy expensive, high-performance tires to replace your old ones? The answer is usually no.
“A salesperson or dealer representative may try to persuade you to buy high-performance tires that come with sports cars and other high-performance automobiles,” said Wimpey. “However, these tires can cost twice as much.”
In addition to being more expensive, Wimpey said high-end tires are constructed of softer rubber. They may look flashy, but they won’t last as long as the more durable rubber tires.
Driving Too Fast
Driving too fast is a sneaky car expense where you may be wasting more money than you realize. Not only is this act harmful for drivers and passengers, Wimpey said it strains your car and increases your gas bill.
“You’ll have to fill up more frequently if you accelerate quickly or drive at high speeds for long periods of time,” said Wimpey. He recommends driving at cruising speed. “Slowing down not only helps you avoid collisions, but it may also save you money on gas each month.”
Paying for Every Repair
Car repairs big and small all add up. Wimpey recommends learning how to do small repairs on your own. Learn how to solve minor issues yourself, such as replacing your wiper blades and fluid and learning how to change fuses, headlights and spark plugs. Over time, you may become confident enough to explore learning how to change your own oil and rotate your tires.
If you’re not sure that you can learn all these repairs on your own, enlist the help of a specialist. Danielle Miura, CFP and founder of Spark Financials, recommends calling multiple repair shops to get price estimates.
“Price estimates are often higher at dealerships, so you may want to determine if a dealership can provide more value than a local car repair shop,” said Miura.
Once you know where you’d like to get your car repaired, Miura recommends asking the repair shop, or dealership, to provide you with an invoice of all the repairs that need to be made and the price they charge before they start working on your car.
“If you have copies of past repairs, you can compare them with the invoice,” said Miura. “For example, if your car had its tires rotated on its last oil change, it’s unlikely that the tires will need to be rotated again.”
Refueling at Expensive Gas Stations
If you routinely go to the same gas station to refuel your tank, you might be missing out on other, more affordable gas station options around you.
Miura recommends checking apps, like GasBuddy, to compare gas stations in your area. If you receive gas points from your credit card rewards program, check to see if car fuel is included for points or cashback. If the answer is yes, you might be able to redeem the reward at a specific gas station.
Forgetting To Check Your Insurance Policy
Many people do not check, or forget to check, their car insurance policy on a yearly basis.
Miura said it’s important to regularly reevaluate your coverage and compare your insurance policy with other competitors. If you’re planning to change to a cheaper plan, Miura recommends asking your current insurance provider if they are willing to offer you any additional coupons or savings.
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