saving on vehicle expenses (part two)

Beyond driving reliable older-model cars and keeping them in good condition, we have found a few other ways to save money on our vehicles in the month-to-month expenses. One large expense is vehicle insurance. This is worth shopping around for, and we do that periodically to make sure we are still receiving the best rate. For us, that has meant insuring with GEICO. If you’ve never shopped around for insurance rates, I highly recommend it. The amount you save is well worth the time you spend.

A note on insurance rates: you can save a lot by going with higher deductibles. When I insured my first vehicle (an ’86 Jeep, which we still own and which is now our secondary vehicle), I paid an extra $30 or so each month to have a $250 deductible. This was on a rattly, dented old Jeep, mind you! There is no need for a deductible that low unless you have a brand-new vehicle and are obsessive about each tiny scratch. We don’t and we’re not, so we save money by sticking to a $1000 deductible. And with a different insurance company and perfect driving records, we pay much less per month now for two vehicles than I initially did for one.

Another basic way to save on vehicle expense is by doing all our own maintenance. Or by Keith doing all our own maintenance, as the case may be. Keith washes the car, changes the oil, changes the air filter, and does whatever other maintenance work that may need done. When our ignition stopped working last year, he found the part we needed from a junkyard for something like $25 (versus the $150 or whatever that would be charged at a parts store) and then did the labor himself. He has worked on our muffler and other little things here and there. When our car stopped running a few months ago, he found a $2 part for the battery connection that did the trick.

Some of these maintenance matters are ones that I couldn’t do without Keith, but many of them are things anyone could do. It doesn’t take long to learn how to be able to do the basics on your car. If you don’t know how, ask someone to show you, or find a tutorial online.

In the areas where we can’t do our own maintenance, we shop around. Having bought tires from Les Schwab, they always switch our tires for free when we need to transfer to winter tires or back again. When we needed our windshield replaced, we ended up getting one for half the price that most places charge. Don’t assume that just because three places charge a high rate, there won’t be a fourth or fifth with a lower cost. An extra ten minutes getting quotes on the phone can save you a few hundred dollars or more on repair work.

We’ve learned a few things about saving on gas, too. We use an American Express card for gas purchases, so we get 4% back. (We still use our credit card for non-optional expenses like gas.) We go to the cheapest gas station, either Costco or Fred Meyer. And last but not least, we drive the speed limit. Or less. Shocking, I know.

Driving the speed limit didn’t begin as a money-saving venture. For me, it was a conviction about obeying the law. But I now find it incredibly satisfying to set my cruise control at 65 and watch the other cars cruise by, knowing that I am getting better gas mileage and am at absolutely no risk of getting a speeding ticket.

In addition, I recently read an excellent article which explained the financial benefit of driving the speed limit. I won’t go into it all here, but here’s one excerpt: Your hourly earnings from driving 65 instead of 66 is $36.50. Not even factoring in the possibility of increased insurance rates for getting a speeding ticket, it is just plain expensive to speed.

These are all the ways I can think of  in which we try to save money on vehicle expenses. Do you have any other suggestions?

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Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 10:28 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Your hourly earnings from driving 65 instead of 66 is $36.50.”
    Out of curiousity, hourly earnings per how often?


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