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    9 Ways the Middle Class Can Save on Auto Expenses

    By J. Arky,

    25 days ago
    Jinda Noipho /

    Spending money on your car is a given — between the gas, insurance, maintenance and whatever else the road has in store. It’s typically expensive to own a vehicle, let alone manage the upkeep of it. That financial stress is particularly difficult if you find yourself in the middle class, trying to make ends meet on all sides of your money .

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    Thankfully there are a few ways that you can save on auto expenses as a member of the middle class. GOBankingRates spoke to some financial planners and auto experts on tips they’d recommend for someone in this scenario. These methods might not eliminate the cost of owning an automobile, however, they sure take the sting out of it. Here are nine ways the middle class can save on auto expenses.

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    Refinance Your Car Loan

    If you did not pay fully for your car when you bought it, chances are you went through some financing and your loan can be reconfigured to fit your current budget.

    “Shop Credit Union auto refinance rates and compare them to your current auto loan interest rate. If you are offered a lower interest rate, consider refinancing to a lower rate,” recommended Shinobu Hindert, CFP at Empowered Planning . “This can reduce your monthly payments and the total interest paid over the life of the loan.”

    “The best time to save on car payments is when you’re getting your loan when you buy your car,” said Melanie Musson, an automotive expert with AutoInsurance , who advised anyone in the middle class to shop around for the best interest rates and lowest fees.

    “If you already have a loan, you can consider refinancing; however, if this option results in more paid in total over the course of your loan, it’s not a good financial move,” Musson said.

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    Shop Around for Insurance

    “Compare insurance quotes from different providers annually. Sites like The Zebra [allow] you to instantly compare insurance quotes,” Hindert said.

    “Also, consider raising your deductible or bundling policies to lower premiums,” said Blake Shaw, an automotive expert, car enthusiast and author of the blog All About Wheels .

    “Look for discounts such as bundling home and auto insurance, good driver discounts, or low-mileage discounts,” Hindert said. “Consider increasing your deductible if you have a good driving record and can afford to pay more out-of-pocket in case of an accident.”

    Regular Maintenance and DIY Repairs

    If you are ignoring a problem with your car that you know you need to fix, do not delay the repair. Because it will only get worse the longer you fail to address it.

    Musson explained that “…instead of ignoring that check engine light, get your car serviced right away. When you ignore a problem, that problem can not only get worse, but it can also cause other parts to malfunction. The best thing you can do is take care of issues immediately.”

    “Performing regular maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake checks, can prevent costly repairs down the line,” Hindert said.

    And the best way to save on fixing your car is doing it yourself. You might not be a mechanic, but there are tons of YouTube and other social media tutorials to teach you how to change a headlight, swap out wiper blades and replace your car’s battery.

    Take Advantage of Rewards Programs and Apps

    “Some gas stations, grocery stores, even Costco offer rewards programs that provide discounts or cash back on fuel purchases,” Hindert suggested. “Apps like GasBuddy can help you find the lowest gas prices in your area. Use these programs and apps to lower your fuel costs.”

    “If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, fill up while you’re picking up groceries because they usually beat the competition for fuel prices,” Musson said. “Gas apps can help you earn cashback when you fill up, so check Upside or similar apps to find the lowest-cost gas and earn cashback.”

    Use Public Transportation

    “When feasible, use public transportation for your daily commute or errands,” Hindert said. “This reduces the wear and tear on your car and can lower fuel and maintenance costs.”

    “Carpool and take the bus or train instead of driving alone,” Shaw recommended. “Cutting down on the miles you drive by carpooling or taking the bus or train can save you money on gas.”

    Consider a More Fuel-Efficient Vehicle

    “If you’re in the market for a new car, consider a more fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicle. While the initial cost may be higher, the savings on fuel over time can be substantial,” Hindert said.

    Shaw said, “Choosing hybrids or fuel-efficient cars can cut your gas costs by a lot.”

    “Be sure to review the numbers over the next five years so you have a full picture of the upfront costs versus overall cost savings,” Hindert added.

    Get a Permanent Registration

    “Registration is what it is, but if you drive an older car and you’re planning to keep it for at least a couple more years, you should consider a permanent registration,” Musson said.

    “Often, a permanent registration costs about what registering your car annually will cost for two years. Once you’ve broken even, you’ll save the registration fee every year you have your car thereafter.”

    Pay Your Tolls the Smart Way

    There’s an array of smart technology on the road to make sure you pay your tolls on the road. However, if you are middle class, you could be paying a higher fee when it comes to tolls if you neglect to install a pass.

    “If you live near a tollway, you’re probably going to use it often enough that you should have a toll pass installed in your vehicle,” Musson said. “Without one, your license plate will be charged, and you’ll pay higher tolls.

    “The toll pass saves you money each time you drive a toll road,” Musson concluded.

    Take Note of Bad Driving Habits

    Paying attention to your driving habits and then curbing all the bad ones is a great way to save costs on your car, whether you are middle class or not.

    “Each vehicle has an ideal speed where fuel economy is maximized,” Musson highlighted. “For most vehicles, that’s around 65 mph. Watch your RPMs to help you figure out your car’s sweet spot.”

    “If you drive smoothly and do not speed up or slow down too quickly, you can save gas and make your car last longer,” Shaw recommended.

    This article originally appeared on : 9 Ways the Middle Class Can Save on Auto Expenses

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