Category Archives: Autos

10 Ways Your Car Is Draining Your Money

Let’s face it. Cars are expensive! Between the initial costs of buying a car, putting gas in the tank, paying for insurance and making sure it’s maintained, owning a car can be one of the most expensive things in your budget.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be so costly. Many of the things you’ve been taught to do for your car are less for your vehicle’s health and more to help retailers drain your wallet. We’ve collected the top 10 ways your car is draining your money so you can avoid some of these rather pointless monetary wastes in the future:

  1. Premium Gasoline

It might be tempting to shell out for the most expensive gasoline available. We get it — you love your car and want the best for it, but premium gasoline is not the way to go unless using a lesser octane is causing your engine to knock. Trust your owner’s manual on this one: If it doesn’t specifically recommend high octane gas, you’re just throwing your money away.

  1. Dealer Repairs

If you’ve got a warranty that already covers all of your repair costs, then disregard this one. For the rest of us, though, going to the dealer for repairs or routine maintenance is a huge waste of money. Independent shops, at least those that employ ASE certified mechanics, do the job as well or better than the dealership without the excessive cost.

  1. Oil Changes – Part 1

This tends to be a two-fold problem. One, you’re probably changing your oil too often. Many manufacturers’ recommend waiting until you’ve reached 5,000 miles or in some cases even longer to change your oil. The 3 months/3,000 miles rule is a marketing ploy at this point.

  1. Oil Changes – Part 2

The second problem most people run into with oil changes is spending too much on the service. This may be because you’re going to the dealer (as mentioned in #9) or because you’re not doing it yourself. If you’re handy with a wrench, changing your oil yourself can save you a ton of money in the long run. Otherwise, look for sales at your local shops and get it done then!

  1. Check Engine Lights

We’ve all done it — ignored a check engine light or even put a little piece of electrical tape over the dash so we didn’t have to look at it anymore. That can be a costly mistake because small issues that may trigger the check engine light can become worse if ignored. Many parts stores, like AutoZone or Advance, offer free code reading, so you’ve got nothing to lose!

  1. Neglecting Your Filters

We all know to change the oil and air filters, but when was the last time you changed your fuel filter? A clogged fuel filter can become an expensive repair and compromise your car’s fuel efficiency.

  1. Underinflated Tires

Walking around the car to check the air pressure in each tire can be a pain, but it’s a great way to save money in the long run. Improperly inflated tires affect fuel efficiency, wear out quickly (often requiring costly replacements) and can even blow out if not correctly maintained.

  1. Idling Your Car

Sometimes idling is unavoidable — at a stop light, in slow-moving traffic or when trying to warm up your car in freezing temperatures. However, restarting your engine uses less gas than idling your car for 10 seconds. When you can, don’t idle.

  1. Flushing Coolant

Yes, you do periodically need to flush out your cooling system, but it’s not nearly as often as you think. Most new coolant only needs to be changed every 5 years or 50,000 miles, but that may vary because of your car’s make, model or year.

  1. Expensive Extras

Sure, that onboard navigation or movie system might be tempting, but you probably have a smart phone or tablet computer that does all of that and more for a fraction of the price.

Onboard navigation can cost thousands of dollars. You can buy a Garmin or other dashboard GPS for less than $200, or simply use your phone to navigate. Think about that the next time a car salesman talks about all the benefits of onboard navigation!

While things like coolant and oil changes are necessities, there’s no reason you should have to break the bank to keep your car on the road.

Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current On Currency. You can catch her on Twitter to read her updates.

If You Don’t Drive Much, Save On Car Insurance

If You Don't Drive Much, Save On Car Insurance With This TrickI worked for GEICO for a few years after college, so I picked up some tricks that can help save money on car insurance (link!). But last week, I found a new trick I was previously unaware of and wanted to share with everyone.

Pay Per Mile Car Insurance

I recently found out about a new car insurance company called Metromile. With them, you pay a lower flat monthly rate compared to traditional insurance companies, plus a few cents per mile driven each month. So if you only drive a few miles per day, you can end up saving a lot of money by switching to Metromile. The less you drive, the more you save!

After some conservative calculations, it looked like we’d be able to drop our premium by around $125 every 6 months. That’s a pretty big savings just for switching car insurance companies, so I was prepared to pull the trigger. It would just mean signing up online and canceling my GEICO policy, which at most would take 15 minutes. Save $250 a year for 15 minutes of work once? Sign me up.

Check With Your Current Auto Insurance Company

I called GEICO (our existing auto insurance company) to see if they could match in some way. I switched jobs about a year ago and Lauren cut her commute significantly since graduating from her master’s program. I asked if driving less would qualify us for any additional discounts, and the customer service rep said she could plug in the details and see what that would do to our rate.

We updated our details to go from about 1,500 miles a month down to around just 500 total. With that, our rate dropped by over $100! So in a 5 minute call, we saved $200 per year. Bingo! The difference between GEICO and Metromile wasn’t enough to convince us to switch to a smaller insurer, so we kept our existing insurance, we’ll just be paying a lower rate going forward.

Metromile is a great idea for people who don’t drive much, but if you don’t drive much and are considering a switch to save money, contact your current insurer to see if your rate can be reduced if they have your updated driving data.

As always, it never hurts to ask. By doing some research and making a simple call, the savings can be significant.

Is Your Car Costing You Too Much? Here’s How To Save

Is Your Car Costing You Too Much Here's How To SaveThere’s no doubt that owning a car can be a major expense. From fuel costs to oil changes and even toll fees – there’s no shortage of expenditures that you’ll need to pay while owning one. If your car is costing too much, and you’re looking for ways to save, then this article is for you.

How Much Is Your Car Costing You?

First and foremost, you need to figure out exactly how much your car is costing you on an annual basis? Then you can look for areas to cut down. Here are the major expenses that you’ll be expected to pay when owning a vehicle:

  • Fuel: According to this article on Huffington Post, the average American spends about $2,120.40 on gasoline each year.
  • Insurance: The average American spends about $1,800 per year on car insurance.
  • Car Payments (if leasing): We spend approximately $3,000 per year in car payments.
  • Tolls: The average American will spend a minimum of $60 per month on tolls, which equates to about $720 per year (give or take a few hundred dollars depending on whether or not they carpool or take an alternate route).
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Americans spend about $3,000 per year in maintenance and repair costs.
  • Traffic Tickets: While there were no official statistics for the United States as a whole, it’s safe to assume that the average speeding ticket can cost upwards of $400. Then there’s the increase in your insurance premium, which will vary from person to person. For the sake of this example, let’s assume an expense of $500 per year assuming one traffic ticket per year.

Add these expenses together and you’re looking at approximately $11,000 per year in car-related costs. For the average American, that’s nearly 33% of an annual salary spent on your vehicle. Fortunately, we’ve got some tricks up your sleeve that we believe will help you save. Let’s check them out now.

Take the DIY Approach

Things like changing out your fluids, swapping out spark plugs, or replacing belts and hoses can be learned relatively quickly by watching YouTube videos, reading your vehicle’s owners’ manual, or getting help from a mechanic-savvy friend. Learning how to perform these simple tasks yourself can save you thousands of dollars each year in maintenance costs. Granted, more complicated issues should be diagnosed and/or repaired by a professional so that you don’t accidentally damage your vehicle even further.

Hitch a Ride on the Local Bus

While it’s certainly not ideal or convenient, consider taking advantage of your city’s public transportation system. A round-trip bus ride will cost you about $2. If you’re spending more than this amount per day in fuel costs, which is common for people who live in a crowded metropolitan city, then hopping on the local bus can potentially save you $1,000+ per year in car costs. Look at the bright side: you can sit back and relax on the bus while stuck in traffic rather than be uptight in your vehicle.


Got co-workers who are willing to carpool? Then take advantage of it! By splitting your fuel costs with two or three other people, you’ll save a lot of money in fuel. But there’s also another awesome benefit to carpooling: most states have special “carpool only” lanes that can be used by vehicles with 2+ people. This means spending less time stuck in traffic, which A) Cuts down on fuel costs even more, and B) Decreases the chances of getting into a fender bender with another vehicle (since there’s less “stop-and-go” traffic in the carpool lanes).

Final Tip of Advice

If your vehicle is still costing you too much money, even after applying the above tips, consider selling it and sticking solely to public transportation. For motivation, think about the extra $11,000 that you’ll have in your bank account at the end of the year.

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