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A car owner’s guide to saving money

January 09th 2013

Cars have become as essential to the modern urban individual as the morning’s newspaper or TV. Driving the kids to school, commuting to work, going down to the supermarket or just setting out on a road trip down the Kerouac trail; a car has become absolutely irreplaceable. Being such an essential piece of equipment, it is not cheap at all. It is a pretty big investment and for most people, there are no other options when it comes to owning one without financing it through a bank or a lender.

Read the user manual

A high value object such as a car needs proper care and maintenance if you are looking to get your money’s worth and don’t plan on investing in a new vehicle every 5 years or so. The most important thing you can do for you car as far as maintenance is concerned is read the owner’s manual from cover to cover. It is absolutely imperative that you do so.

Although it doesn’t tell you much about the details of general maintenance work that needs to be done on schedule, it does give you a fair idea about a number of technical details like wiper size, part number and fluid levels. You need to know all of this in order to perform maintenance tasks and reduce the amount of money you spend on account of your car.

Check your oil, air and fluid levels periodically

Sticking to a maintenance schedule of your car actually helps in prolonging the life of the vehicle. Each car has its own schedule and in most cases, you can save the money you spend on a mechanic and do some of the very basic maintenance work by yourself. Your car needs a series of different fluids to perform efficiently and lacking one may affect the vehicle’s health one way or another. Take your time and check that your car has the appropriate levels of wiper fluid, antifreeze, oil, transmission, steering and brake fluids.

Tires are one of the more essential components of a car. While you drive, you not only put your tires through the regular wear and tear, you also end up subjecting it to things like broken glass, splintered wood, rusty nails, rocks and other debris. Keep an eye on the air level in your tires and don’t wait for it to look flat before you go in for a refill. Tires lose air naturally and in case if you have not driven your car for over a month, you should always go for a refill. Underinflated tires cut your car’s mileage by almost 15 percent. Keep an eye on the general physical health of the tire as well by checking for cracks, bulges and wear.

Save, refinance and insure your vehicle

Repair and maintenance of a car is an expensive affair and many people are caught unaware by unexpected maintenance requirements. The best option is to make a fund which you make a monthly or weekly contribution to. In case of emergencies, you can dive into this fund and have your car repaired, even without going through your week’s paycheck.

You could also consider refinancing your auto loan and tailor it according to your need. The monthly payments might increase a little but on the overall, you will save a good amount of money on interest. If you can afford it, pay more than you are required to in a month. Aim for paying off your loan as fast as you can since this is again going to save you money you would have paid as interest. In case you have already paid off your car loan, just assume you haven’t. Take the amount you used to make the monthly payments with and put it in your repair and maintenance fund. This way you keep saving money and don’t get out of the habit.

Insuring your car is also very important and you will need to go around shopping for the best quote you can get. Either that or you can talk to an insurance agent and have him help you in making a choice. Once you have your car insured, try an make bi-annual payments instead of the monthly premium. This way your insurer might offer you a heavy discount as well.

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