How to Share Car Expenses With Your Partner

Quick Answer

To share car expenses with your partner, start by deciding which vehicle you’ll share and which you’ll sell. Then talk through how often each of you need the car, determine how you’ll divide the expenses and set ground rules.

Shot of a young couple enjoying a road trip together in their shared car.

Sharing a car as a couple can save you loads of money, but it does require some logistical and financial planning and cooperation. If you're thinking of dropping down to one household car, figuring out how much each of you can and should contribute, as well as how often you each should have the car, is key to making things work.

Why Should You Share a Car With a Partner?

If you've never shared a car with someone before, it might sound dreadful or inconvenient at first. But there are plenty of compelling reasons to ditch your car and share one, and its associated costs, with your partner. Here are some reasons why it may be worth exploring going down to one car:

  • One of your cars will require expensive repairs.
  • You're trying to tighten up your budget. One car instead of two means less money spent on car payments, auto insurance, gasoline, repairs and maintenance.
  • You work from home. If you and your partner both work remotely and don't go into an office frequently (or at all), you may not need two cars.
  • There's limited parking where you live. Some housing, especially in big cities, has limited or no parking—or requires costly parking permits for each vehicle. You can reduce headache and possibly expenses by ditching one of your vehicles.
  • You have access to public transportation, so one partner can use that if the other needs the car.
  • One of you has access to a company vehicle.

How to Split Car Expenses With Your Partner

So you want to give car sharing with your partner a shot. Here are some steps to follow to make the process smoother.

1. Decide Which Vehicle You'll Share

If you both have a car, you'll have to decide which to keep and which to sell or otherwise get rid of. Another option is to sell both existing vehicles and buy a different car together, such as one that's more efficient and will reduce your bill at the gas pump.

Figuring this out may come down to running the numbers. If your partner's car is older and may be more expensive to repair, it could be the one that goes. Alternatively, if you've got a newer car with a more expensive car payment and your partner has a paid-off but sturdy vehicle, you may want to sell yours to decrease your monthly out-of-pocket costs.

2. Determine How Often Each of You Needs the Car

Even if you both work from home full time, you both will inevitably need the car periodically for appointments, errands and socializing.

Make sure your schedules are such that it won't be a major inconvenience to either partner. This may require some planning, such as using a shared calendar so both of you know when the other needs the car, or agreeing to give each other rides as needed.

3. Figure Out How to Divide the Expenses

If you haven't yet created a budget as a couple, that's a wise first step before you get into figuring out car expenses. Once you're on the same page with budgeting, there are different ways to handle your shared vehicle costs, including these options:

  • You could split some or all costs 50/50. This could mean paying for them from a joint account, or, if you keep your finances separate, one partner paying and the other reimbursing for half.
  • You could take turns paying. You pay for this gas fill up and car wash, and your partner is responsible for it next time.
  • You each own certain expenses. Maybe one of you drives much more often and is responsible for gas, while the other handles oil changes and routine maintenance. Perhaps one of you is a higher income earner and can pick up some of the costlier bills, while the other handles smaller expenses.

4. Set Some Ground Rules

In addition to going over who needs the car when to avoid surprises, it helps to discuss some other topics that could present logistical challenges later. For example, if one partner is messier than the other, you may want to set ground rules about keeping the car clean or washing it at regular intervals.

Also discuss what to do if one of you has an emergency and you both need the car at the same time. Will one of you be responsible for taking a rideshare or otherwise finding their own way?

Other Ways to Save Money on Transportation Costs

If sharing a car isn't right for you at this point, there are other ways you can save on transportation. Here are some ideas, many of which can also help the environment:

  • Share rides with friends and coworkers who live nearby. Carpooling is an old-school but tried-and-true way to cut back on car reliance.
  • Take public transportation, such as buses, subways and trains. Some companies subsidize public transportation expenses, so find out if your job covers anything.
  • Walk or bike whenever possible. Not only do these keep you active, but they make it cheap to get around for local travel.
  • Rent shared transport. Many cities have electric scooters, electric bikes and other rentable forms of getting around that you pay for by the minute or hour. Some areas even have car share programs.
  • Consider a scooter or small motorbike. If having two cars is too pricey but sharing one feels impossible, an in-between option could be buying a Vespa or similar small scooter or motorized bike. These are hardier than bicycles and can get you farther, but they're far less expensive to buy and maintain than a car.
  • Learn some car maintenance. Another way to cut back on car expenses is to learn how to do some routine maintenance yourself. Don't tackle anything serious or dangerous, but some research may prove that refilling wiper fluid, replacing a headlight or even changing oil yourself is doable.

Save Even More by Comparing Car Insurance

If you haven't shopped around for new car insurance in a while, it's worth collecting quotes for the vehicle you plan to keep to look for a better deal. For a quick and easy way to compare car insurance rates online, check your rate for free using Experian's auto insurance comparison tool. This move alone can significantly cut back on car expenses, making car sharing even more affordable for you and your partner.