7 Ways to Reduce Your Car Expenses Now

A woman smiling and putting gas in her convertible car with the top down.

It can be tricky to find new ways to save when money gets tight, especially when trying to cut back on essentials. Your car expenses (including your car loan, insurance and gas) may seem inflexible, but with a few easy tricks you may be able trim your spending now and save yourself some money.

If you count yourself among the many Americans who are looking for ways to cut back as they manage the financial effects of COVID-19, read on. Here are seven ways to cut down on your car expenses:

1. Find Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance

This may take some research, but lowering your insurance rate is an easy way to cut back monthly auto expenses. There are a few ways of doing this, but you should first check with your insurance provider to see if they offer any ways for you to lower your premium. Here are some tips that might help you reduce your insurance costs:

  • Take a defensive driving course. Insurance companies often offer reductions to drivers who have taken approved defensive driving classes. These classes provide tips on how to become a safer driver, which ideally will lower the chances you'll get in an accident. Your insurer should be able to provide you with a list of approved courses, some of which can be completed entirely online.
  • Cut back or change your coverage. Your insurance policy is there to protect you, but it may include some things you could live without. Look through your policy for things like roadside assistance, car rental reimbursement or enhanced glass coverage (for your windows). Removing these from your policy could help save you money, but you may regret not having them someday. Depending on your insurer, you may also be able to get a discount if you add certain items, such as renters insurance.
  • Shop around for a discounted rate. If you're having trouble negotiating a lower cost with your current provider, shop other insurance companies to see if they can offer you similar coverage for a lower price. Switching insurance providers could help you shave down your costs, and might even get you a more comprehensive policy.

2. Refinance Your Auto Loan

If you still have a loan on your car, you may be able to save money on interest by refinancing with a better rate. You can do this by contacting your lender to see if they have refinancing options. You may also be able to find a new lender willing to offer you a loan at a lower rate.

3. Keep Up With Routine Maintenance

Major repairs are one of the most expensive costs of owning a vehicle, but keeping up with your scheduled maintenance can help you avoid them. Make sure to get your brake pads, belts, fluids and other parts replaced as often as your owners manual recommends, as this will help prolong the life of your vehicle. Getting regular diagnostics will also help you catch any maintenance issues early on, which could help you avoid any expensive emergency fixes.

4. Drive Carefully and Don't Speed

This one is simple—driving aggressively is not only dangerous, but puts a strain on your vehicle. Rapid acceleration and sustained driving at high speeds wastes gas, which means you'll have to fill up more. Driving slowly can not only help prevent a crash, but it can help you cut back on the cost of filling up your tank each month.

5. Learn to Do Small Maintenance on Your Own

Since maintaining your vehicle can get expensive, learning how to make small fixes can go a long way toward keeping those costs down. Learn to do simple things like putting air in your tires; changing your wiper blades and fluid; and changing things like fuses, headlights and spark plugs. If you're feeling adventurous, you could even teach yourself to change your oil and rotate your tires. Of course, make sure to follow proper safety precautions, and if you feel unsure of your ability to complete these tasks, consult a professional.

6. Cover a Lot of Ground When Going Out

It's easy to just hop in your car every time you want to run an errand. Instead, consider planning ahead to make sure you are being efficient each time you leave the house. Consider going to stores that are located near each other and think about making lists of things to do when out so you don't get sidetracked. Cutting back on the number of times you go out could help you save on gas, which over time will put money in your pocket.

7. Consider Carpooling

In the short term, one way to cut back on your auto costs is to carpool. You can carpool with coworkers, schoolmates and even with your own family. Carpooling will limit the amount you drive, save you money on gas and will put less wear and tear on your vehicle.

Keep an Eye on Your Credit

If you're thinking about refinancing your auto loan, or want to see if you can get a lower insurance rate, consider free credit monitoring from Experian so you can review your credit report and understand what lenders will see when considering your application. Refinancing can be a great way to reduce your auto expenses, but your credit will need to be in good shape to get approved for a lower rate.