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Do you feel your bank account rapidly draining as your vehicle covers each mile? Are you reaching the place where it may become necessary to choose between buying groceries and buying a tank of gasoline to get to work for one more week?

If so, it may be time to take steps to make that fuel stretch as far as possible and reduce the cost of your vehicle overall. While these measures may once have only saved pennies, they could now result in saving hundreds of dollars in a year’s time.

We’ll go over some of the best ways to save money on your car maintenance, fuel, and insurance.

How to Save Money On Your Vehicle

Vehicles tend to be money sinks that take your money. Cars are depreciating assets that lose value over time. This means that if you buy a car for $20,000 today, it is highly unlikely that you would be able to sell it for more money in a few years.

On top of that, you need to pay for fuel and maintenance over the life of your vehicle. These are necessary costs that can really add up over time.

To help minimize the costs of owning a vehicle, here are some ways to save money.

Buy a Used Car

Instead of buying a brand new car, consider buying a certified pre-owned car. New cars lose the largest amount of their value in the first few months, so a used car would depreciate slower.

Used cars are cheaper to buy upfront but can be just as reliable if purchased through a reputable dealership. By paying less money on your car, you can take a smaller auto loan and use your cash for other investments.

Get a Second Car for Commuting

Sometimes, it might make sense to get a second car that you use specifically for commuting. If you have a big, gas-guzzling truck or unreliable vehicle, you may not want to drive it every day. In those cases, it makes sense to buy a fuel-efficient second car just for commuting, provided it is inexpensive.

Minimize Your Car Loan Payment

Once you find the perfect car for your needs, make sure that you are minimizing your auto loan as much as possible. Start by putting down as much as you can for the down payment to minimize your monthly payment.

You’ll also want to try to get the lowest possible interest rate that you can. Having a strong credit score helps but you can also shop around to to see if certain lenders will give you a better rate.

As you’re closing the deal on a new car, try to negotiate a lower overall cost by increasing your trade-in value or trying to get other benefits. Saving even a few hundred dollars upfront can help your cash flow later.

Recycle Car Parts

As you perform maintenance on your car, there are a few ways that you can reduce your overall expenses. One of the best ways is to hang on to your old car batteries and sell them for money. Instead of just trashing old batteries, they can be sold to someone who can refurbish them.

The same can go for any other parts of your car that you change out that still holds value. This can be stereo systems, accessories, and roof racks that you no longer need. Try selling them on eBay, Craigslist, or a local dealer to earn some extra money.

How to Save Money on Gas While Commuting

The following are practical ideas for getting the most out of dollars budgeted for you fuel.

Dump the Junk

The heavier a vehicle is, the more gas it demands to haul the load. Hauling around items such as tool boxes or golf clubs takes more fuel. Even the luggage rack on top of the car may add weight and make the car less aerodynamically efficient.

Check and Inspect

A car that is in top-notch condition automatically gets better gas mileage than one that has not been properly maintained. It is especially important to keep the oil and filters clean. Belts should be in reasonably good condition, and the spark plugs should be firing correctly.

Get Rid of Bad Driving Habits

Impatience sometimes leads people to develop driving habits that can suck fuel from a car at a much faster rate. If you are a driver who consistently crowds the vehicle in front of you, you are probably wasting more gas. This type of tailgating is not only dangerous, but it will force you to apply the brakes more often.

The necessity to stop and restart frequently decreases the good gas mileage that your vehicle might otherwise get. Another bad habit that burns fuel more quickly is speeding. Experts have found that drivers who maintain a consistent speed of approximately 50 mph get the most out of each tank of gas.

Use Available Technology

People sometimes forget that their GPS or phone can plot the quickest route to their destination. It may also alert them to high traffic areas. Both of these features can reduce the amount of gas needed for any journey.

Another great way to use technology is to compare gas prices in your area online. This keeps you from wasting gas while driving around to find the lowest priced fuel. It is rarely cost-effective to drive over five miles to save a few pennies per gallon.

Think Green

Drivers also need to consider the most eco-friendly way to travel to their destination. Sometimes public transport is available at a fraction of the cost of driving an individual vehicle. Many people find that walking or biking to school or work is worth the extra time, reduces their fuel needs, and makes them more fit. Others arrange to carpool with a friend or co-worker.

Go Electric or Hybrid

The ultimate form of going green is to convert to an electric vehicle. Electric cars use no gas, so they can drastically cut your fuel bill.

Hybrid cars still use car but are also powered by an internal, rechargeable battery. This helps to stretch you gas mileage so that you can get twice as far as a conventional car. While electric and hybrid cars tend to be more expensive upfront, you can save more money over the life of the vehicle.

All of these actions can result in saving dollars that can be spent for the other important needs of the family.

How to Save Money on Car Care in the Winter

Extra time and care on your car will save money and maybe even lives in winter. Just adhere to these simple tips:

Prepare for Icy Nights

On frosty nights, cover windscreen with thick blanket, not only will you save on messy de-icer, you will be not be tempted to get out a kettle of hot water to melt the ice quickly. I have seen many people do this, you can so easily crack your screen when it is cold.

If you are only going on a short journey and the weather is really bad, the screen will just ice up again and your wipers will freeze too!

Drive Sensibly

Drive sensibly lets you will save on fuel. Avoid speeding up and then hitting the brakes sharply since it is terrible on gas mileage and on icy roads. Winter roads are often deceptively slippery, black ice or leaves can cause accidents. Rushing will not get you there much faster – additionally the stress you and/or your passengers will have may ruin the journey anyway.

Clean Your Car

Car maintenance is especially important in winter when we often use the car more as the weather is colder or wetter. So make sure you are prepared and get your car serviced in time.

Keep your car as clean as possible. Your number plate and lights always need to be seen as the days are darker and foggy rain drenching roads mean you often need your lights on all day.

If you live in area where the roads are well salted, wash your car regularly since salt left caked on will rust through the body.

Cleaning bumpers – forget expensive ‘spray on black’ which fades very quickly – use black boot  polish, it lasts MUCH longer, especially in winter, just takes a little more time and effort!

If your leather steering wheel is looking a bit tired and worn – get out the black boot polish again and give it a good clean. It should NOT come off on your hands if you polish it clean properly after applying it.

Maintain Your Car Properly

Make sure your windscreen washer is filled up with the correct amount of winter additive before you set off anywhere.

To save on fuel do change air filter regularly. You can buy air filters very cheaply on the internet/e bay and most suppliers will ask for a car registration number to check you are ordering the correct one for your car. Changing these filters is easy…usually just a couple of clips to undo and it is usually always at the top of the engine in clear sight. Even I can do that!

Change fuel filters and have an oil change every year. This will also save on fuel. You do not need to go to a main car dealer for this. There are a lot of good small business mechanics around who will invariably be much cheaper.

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