Aside from your house, your car is the second highest purchase most people make. Triple-A estimates that a small sedan will cost an owner $6,579 a year in fuel, insurance, and other maintenance. Larger sedan owners can expect to pay more, as much as $10,492 per year. But these numbers do not have to be set in stone for enterprising drivers. There are things a car owner can do to keep car costs low, which is essential for those operating on a budget.

Here’s where to start:

  1. Don’t idle.

Waiting in the parking lot for your spouse or friend to finish up shopping? Turn the engine off. Leaving the engine running wastes more fuel than restarting your car. Some evidence also suggests that idling shortens your engine’s longevity. So you can save both on fuel and keep your car running longer by simply turning the car engine off.

  1. Don’t drive when sick.

Some states have now expanded to DUI laws to include any chemical influence that impairs a person’s ability to drive. This includes those over the counter drugs you took to help you battle flu symptoms if they cause you to feel drowsy. So if you’re feeling under the weather, better to get someone else to run to the drug store for you. According to the Law Office of Tenn & Tenn, a car accident law firm, “Conviction for a DWI 1st Offense is a Class B Misdemeanor and you will receive a minimum fine of $500 plus court imposed penalty assessment.” Steep fines can be avoided by being sensible and staying home when sick.

  1. Watch your tires.

Deflated tires hurt your gas mileage. On the other hand, tires that have the right air pressure can improve how much gas you use per mile. How to tell if your tires need a pump up? Every month, your tires will lose air pressure, so simply make it a monthly appointment. Keeping your tires at the right air pressure levels can also prevent costly blowouts and are better for your tire health overall.

  1. Do easy maintenance yourself.

YouTube provides wide-ranging tutorials for DIY fanatics in every sector. You can find out how to change your own car tires, check your oil levels, rotate your own tires, and more. One Dallas man has saved thousands of dollars by committing to doing his own repairs. While you may want to start off slow, you could be racking up the same savings by teaching yourself car repair tasks, too. Blogs and car repair websites also provide helpful information for those aspiring to take care of their own car maintenance.

However, if there is an aspect of car repair that you are not confident about managing on your own, always prioritize your safety. For example, brake maintenance might be better handed off to the professionals. If you feel your safety might be at risk, call your car shop.

  1. Check back in with your insurance company.

Aren’t happy with your monthly insurance rates? Check back in and see what kind of discounts are currently on offer. Some insurance companies will bundle your house and car insurance together. Bringing costs down for both. Other insurance companies provide discounts for drivers that allow their driving to be monitored. But only apply for this one if you are confident in your safe-driving abilities. The point here is that insurance payments aren’t set in stone and can be renegotiated.

For many who commute to work, getting by without a car is near to impossible. For those who are struggling to make ends meet, taming your monthly car bill becomes a necessity. But a little elbow grease and some ingenuity can go a long way to reducing your car bill. And allow you to funnel money saved into that trip you had your heart set on, or other desired avenues.

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Will Hopstetter

Will is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United Kingdom. He holds a diverse background in automotive and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.

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