5 Ways to Slash Your Car Expenses

By Lesley Green
Teenager helping her parents unpack parcels from the family car.
  • A poorly maintained vehicle can cost the equivalent of up to 15¢ more per litre on gasoline.
  • One under-inflated tire can reduce the tire’s lifespan by 15,000 km and increase fuel consumption by 4%.
  • Aggressive driving lowers your gas mileage roughly 15-30% at highway speeds and 10-40% in stop-and-go traffic.

Owning a car isn’t cheap. There’s the initial purchase price (or monthly payments if you’ve chosen to lease or finance the car), as well as gas, auto insurance, repairs, maintenance, parking to pay for, and licence and registration fees, to name a few of the costs associated with having a vehicle. In total, we’re talking thousands of dollars a year, but there are ways to make car ownership less of a strain on your wallet.

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1. Keep on top of maintenance

Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. The key to keeping your car running at its best is to take care of it and stick to the maintenance schedule outlined in your owner’s manual. Regular visits to your mechanic can help you avoid bigger, more expensive repairs later on.

Also, a well-maintained vehicle requires less fuel, so you won’t have to make as many trips to the pump. According to Natural Resources Canada (NRC), a poorly maintained vehicle can cost the equivalent of up to 15¢ more per litre on gasoline.

2. Check your tire pressure monthly

Safety aside, properly inflated tires last longer and will save you money on gasoline. Transport Canada estimates that operating a vehicle with one under-inflated tire by nine psi (pounds per square inch) can reduce the tire’s lifespan by 15,000 km and increase fuel consumption by 4%.

3. Minimize how often you use the A/C

Most vehicle’s air conditioners (A/C) require engine power to operate, and NRC estimates that by using the A/C, you’re increasing your fuel consumption by up to 20%. To minimize the financial hit that comes with keeping cool, NRC recommends you turn the A/C on only when necessary, hit the "re-circulate" button so you’re cooling air already in the vehicle, park in shaded areas, and aim to make the temperature in the car comfortable, not cold. In other words, if you feel like you must put on a sweater when the A/C is on, it’s time to turn it off.

4. Drive with fuel efficiency in mind

Aggressive driving (like speeding and frequent hard acceleration and braking) will have a direct impact on how much you’ll spend on fuel each week. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, aggressive driving lowers your gas mileage by roughly 15-30% at highway speeds and 10-40% in stop-and-go traffic.

5. Lower your car insurance costs by shopping around

Car insurance premiums can make up for a significant portion of your regular monthly expenses, and too often, after choosing a car insurance provider, drivers "set it and forget it". However, car insurance isn’t a rotisserie that can be left unattended; it needs to be checked on regularly to make sure you’re not overpaying for your coverage.

There are many times over the course of a year when you should consider comparing auto insurance quotes to ensure you’re still getting the best deal, like when:

  • Your policy is up for renewal. Rates often change, and even though your current provider gave you a great rate last year, it doesn’t mean they’ll give you the best rate today.
  • You get married. Your rate may change once you’re married. The insurer who gave you the best premium as a single person may not be the same company that provides you with the lowest rate as a couple.
  • You move. Where you live is factored into how your premium is calculated, and chances are your rate will change when you move.
  • You buy a new car. New or used, what you park in your driveway is one of the key factors in determining your car insurance rate.
  • You get a ticket or are involved in an at-fault accident. Accidents and tickets happen to even the best drivers, and some insurance companies are more forgiving than others.
  • You change jobs or retire. When your daily commute changes, your insurance could change as well.

With InsuranceHotline.com, it takes just a few short minutes to compare quotes from our network of over 30 insurance providers. Make sure you’re not missing out on ways to slash your car expenses and shop around for your coverage today.