5 Ways To Save Money on Your Car in April
If you already own a car, you’re in luck.
Those in the unfortunate position of having to buy one are battling the tightest inventory and highest prices on record. But, with inflation at a four-decade peak and gas prices at a record high, even current car owners are feeling the financial pinch every time they hit the road.
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Like everything else, owning, driving and maintaining a car costs more now than ever before. Because the cost of buying a car has risen so high so quickly, people are opting to repair old cars instead. That reality has driven up the demand for repairs — and therefore prices.
At the same time, TheDrive reported that motorists are being forced to wait months for simple repairs because auto shops are dealing with frustratingly long supply chain lag times for even the most common parts.
For the icing on the cake, MarketWatch reported in March that the same inflationary forces that were driving up the cost of everything else were now forcing a spike in the cost of auto insurance.
So, if cars cost more to buy, fuel, repair and insure, what’s left to do but drive yourself to the poor house? Here are a few tips to help you cruise through April with your wallet intact.
Infrequent Driver? Pay for Insurance by the Mile
The average car insurance policy costs $1,706 per year in 2022, according to Kelley Blue Book. That’s about $142 per month. If you drive frequently, it always pays to shop around and make sure your current policy is the best you can get.
If you don’t, however, consider paying as you go.
Metromile, SmartMiles from Nationwide and Milewise from Allstate all offer policies with premiums that are based on the number of miles you drive. Metromile — which popularized the movement and still offers only by-the-mile policies — says infrequent drivers can save $947 per year.
Let Your GPS Guide You to Cheaper Gas
With gas prices now averaging around $4.20 per gallon, the priciest part of car ownership for most Americans is the stuff you have to pump into them every few hundred miles. The obvious advice is to drive less, but that’s just not a possibility for the commuters left behind by the remote-work revolution.
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There are, of course, gas apps such as GasBuddy, Gas Guru and TruNow — all of which are very useful — but they require you to switch over to a separate app while you’re driving.
The good news is that you can find the cheapest gas on your route with the GPS apps you’re probably already using. With Google Maps, for example, you can just click the gas icon while in drive mode to compare costs at nearby stations as you cruise. If you use Waze, just click the gas icon to see crowdsourced gas prices posted by your fellow frustrated drivers.
Turn Your Extended Warranty Into Cash
If you’re an especially prudent driver, you might have purchased an extended warranty to cover your used car or to extend your new car’s bumper-to-bumper warranty.
There’s no shame in paying for peace of mind; but, according to Consumer Reports, these vehicle service contracts are overpriced and the people who sell them earn juicy commissions. Even worse, most drivers never use them enough to get their money’s worth.
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The good news, according to CarTalk, is that most states have adopted some version of the Service Model Contracts Act, which entitles you to cancel your extended warranty for a prorated refund.
If you cancel your warranty, you can stick your refund in a savings or investment account that you can dip into when that inevitable repair finally does come calling.
Lighten That Lead Foot
The easiest, simplest and safest way to save money where your car is concerned is to slow down while you’re driving. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported that every 5 mph over 50 mph is the equivalent of spending 18 cents more per gallon — and that was back when gas cost $2.63. Slowing down by 5-10 mph improves fuel economy by up to 14%.
DOE also reports that you can burn less fuel and save money by braking and accelerating gently and maintaining a steady speed — cruise control will do that for you. Lighten your load by jettisoning unnecessary weight and reduce drag by never traveling with rooftop cargo unless absolutely necessary.
Carpool to Save Cash
Although there’s still plenty of trepidation over the lingering effects of the pandemic, the high cost of gas is bringing back a money-saving automotive strategy from years gone by — the old-fashioned carpool. More and more commuters, parents and even travelers are now riding together to split the cost of gas, according to MarketWatch.
If you want to save money, take cars off the road and enjoy the smooth sailing of the HOV lane, there is, of course, an app for that — several actually.
If you already use it for navigation, Waze Carpool is an easy, safe and convenient way to share a ride. Moovit Carpool is another trusted app that lets you verify both drivers and passengers. Carpool-Kids is designed specifically for parents looking for help chauffeuring their children.
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