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Being a car owner is already expensive—you have to pay for services, insurance, and gas to name a few expenses. And unless you were somehow able to pay for your car in cash, it’s also likely that you’re paying some form of car payment. With such an expensive investment, it’s important that you adopt multiple frugal habits to avoid throwing even more money unnecessarily into your car.

Limit Use to Necessities

Limiting your driving to only necessary distances is one of the best ways to keep it in good repair and to avoid the need for constant repairs and maintenance. Considering oil changes are recommended every 5-7,000 miles, the less you use your car the less maintenance like this is needed. If you live in a city where you can use other modes of transportation like bus or metro, consider switching it up sometimes and taking advantage of public transport. Ultimately, using your car less can help you mitigate risks of accidents and the need to put more money into your car.

Keep Your Insurance Costs Down

Keeping your insurance down on your car will vary depending on each driver, car, and state. There are a variety of ways you can try to keep your insurance prices low including keeping your driving record clean, using various comparative resources to help you find the best insurance match, and doing proactive things like attending defensive driving classes.

All these things can help you find the best rate for your car insurance. But while limiting your car insurance costs is certainly one of the biggest ways to keep your overall vehicle costs low, remember that having a high deductible also shifts significant risk to your shoulders financially in the event of an accident.

Have Your Car Serviced

Having your car serviced and checked regularly is perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep your car working well and avoid large, expensive repairs. When you do get your oil changed, don’t forget to consider other services like changing the air filter, and especially doing an engine flush. Regular maintenance helps your car to run better, and have a reliable engine for much longer than what is originally expected of the car.

Protect Your Car

Efficiently protecting your car requires you to adopt various habits, but one of the most important and relevant things to think about when trying to not lose your car’s value or need large repairs is your paint job. Make sure that your car isn’t being overly exposed to sunlight or the elements including rain and snow. If you don’t have a garage, get a cover for your car. You may also consider something like paint film. Paint film will provide your car protection from debris or hazards on the road.

Use the Right Gas

Putting the right gas into your car is another important habit to adopt as a frugal car owner. First, make sure that you are putting the right gasoline grade into your car. Typically, more high-end cars require higher grades and lower-end cars require the regular grade during fill-ups.

Sometimes, people can get the mistaken idea that putting premium gas into a car that doesn’t require it can somehow be a good thing for the car. In all reality, the grade of gas doesn’t actually correlate with being better or worse for your car. Rather, it correlates with what gas requirements fit the particular needs of your engine. So simply follow what is written on the inside of your gas cap. Doing this will help your engine last longer.

Adopt Defensive Driving

Adopting defensive driving practices will help you be a more frugal driver for a couple different reasons. Mainly, adopting defensive driving practices helps prevent you from getting into more crashes caused by you which also means you’ll avoid huge repair costs and increased insurance bills. You can also avoid the fines and speeding tickets reckless drivers tend to get.

But when you learn to drive defensively and do things like maintaining a good distance between you and the car in front of you, you’ll also be able to avoid things like breaking too hard too fast or swerving, and instead help your brakes last longer.

Be Vigilant About Laws

While being a law-abiding citizen is probably something you want to prioritize all the time, being vigilant about adhering to traffic laws will not only keep you safe, but it will also keep some of your car-related expenses lower.

If you live in a big city, pay particular attention to parking rules. You’d be surprised by how often it only takes one time parking in the wrong zone or parking without paying to receive a ticket. Then, one ticket can be upwards of $100—a tall price to pay for a single violation. Because of this, try to learn all the different laws that you might run up to about things like parking, turning on different stop lights, and other laws in order to ensure you don’t end up receiving a heavy fine.

Navigate Toll Roads Correctly

Finally, one important aspect of your car strategy to help you keep costs down is to figure out the best way to approach toll roads. There are multiple route programs outside of Google Maps that can help you avoid tolls if you are going on a road trip. Toll roads tend to be more of an issue for east coast drivers, however, who cross state borders frequently. 

If for example, you live in Newark, New Jersey and cross into New York to go into New York City, it’s important that you invest in something called an EZ Pass. Having this pass—typically one specific for residents in that particular area—will help keep the cost of tolls to be paid lower and help you never forget to pay a toll. Considering that when you forget to pay, you could get the bill in the mail for an amount much higher than the original toll cost, avoiding tolls or paying them on time is best for drivers wanting to be frugal.

To be frugal in this area of your life, make sure that you implement at least some of these strategies for your car. Considering how much normal expenses are for cars, dealing with higher expenses is something to be avoided. Ultimately, remember to be responsible and careful with your car and you will minimize a lot of future charges!

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