Has your vehicle become a money pit? Higher gas prices have really put a damper on the joy of car ownership. We can no longer count on cheap gas – I’m pretty sure high gasoline prices are with us for awhile. Here, we outline some ways to save on the overall operating expense of your vehicle, making the stop at the pump less painful.
Regular Gas vs. Premium Gas
It’s rare that any vehicle manufactured in the last few years requires premium gasoline. Most newer cars have knock sensors which adjust the air-fuel mixture in the engine, allowing them to run on 87 octane fuel rather than the more expensive 91 octane premium gas. The price difference between ‘regular’ and ‘hi-test’, often about 30 cents a gallon, allows you to save a nice amount on your gas bill over the course of a year.
What’s in Your Wallet?
Many credit cards offer a rewards program. Some give you cash back, others give you points to apply for discounts down the road. Some get you an instant discount at the pump. Shop around for the card that’s gets you the biggest discount. Right now, for example, Chase offers a card that gives you 5% cash back on gas in the first and third quarters of 2014. See more at NerdWallet’s gas card roundup.
Store Rewards Cards
Kroger has its Fuel Saver Program that promises consumers 10 cents off per gallon at participating Shell + Turkey Hill stations for every $100 they spend on groceries. A $200 grocery purchase earns a 20-cent discount up to a limit of $1 off every gallon for 35 gallons. If you already shop at Kroger, just be sure that everything you buy (groceries, prescriptions, etc.) gets added to your rewards car. We used to shop at several different stores but now focus all our purchases at Kroger to save on gas. And there are plenty around the Norcross area.
Check Your Tires
Mr. Obama was right, sometimes the effect of under-inflated tires can reduce your gas mileage by as much as ten percent. Of course, under-inflated tires wear out faster and affect the handling of your vehicle. You should check your tire pressure every time you stop for gas. Many newer cars have a built-in tire pressure sensor, so it pays to go newer.
Review Your Insurance Policy
You should revisit your insurance policy from time to time. If you have a vehicle that’s worth less than $3,000, you should stick with liability coverage and drop collision (repairs your car in an accident) and comprehensive (covers every little repair after an accident). You’ll save a bundle. Bank the difference to save a down payment for your next car. And if there’s ever a major life change – marriage, divorce, child born, child graduate, child gets good grades – update your policy and you’ll save. No matter what, be sure your personal information is accurate (i.e. zipcode) to be sure you get the best rate.
Change Your Oil
Contrary to Jiffy Lube’s recommendations, you shouldn’t have to change your car’s oil every 3,000 miles unless it’s subject to severe driving conditions (like driving in extreme heat or cold, sandy areas like the desert or beach, none of which we have in the Atlanta area). Check your car’s owner manual or with a local dealer. And, you might be able to spend a little bit more on synthetic oil and it will last longer.
Do the Work Yourself
Most of us can do simple routine maintenance chores on our cars by ourselves. Have you priced an air filter or wiper blades at the local quick oil change shop? Most double the price and charge you for labor to install. Things like oil filters, belts, batteries, air filters, wiper blades and many other smaller parts are relatively easy to install and can easily be changed by the average Joe. Shop online to save even more.
Most of us believe that nobody does a better job of washing and waxing our vehicle than we do. That may not necessarily be true, especially if you use dish detergent to wash your car, or use the wrong applicator to apply the wax, you are causing long-term damage to the finish of your vehicle. You can save a few pennies by doing it yourself, but it’s rare that you could do a more thorough job than our techs. To save money, join our Social Rewards Club – all it takes is an email address and you’re in! You can also save big with our 4+ program – for every 4 washes you buy, you get a free wash. Visit our Savings Programs page for more ways to save.
Gas prices aren’t predicted to drop significantly anytime soon, so it’s important to save money on your vehicle in other ways. Be a wise consumer and shop around for the best deals on your car care. If prices skyrocket, you may have to reduce some of your driving, but using these tips you’ll be able to save in other ways.