The reality of car ownership is that it represents a significant personal expenditure.
However, there are ways to reduce the cost of buying and maintaining a vehicle. Here are some ideas to help drivers save money.
Consider fuel efficiency
New models offer more fuel-efficient engines and better gas mileage than older models. More than a dozen cars and light trucks now get 40 to 50 mpg, and hybrids get more. When it is time to trade in your old gas-guzzler, think hybrid, hybrid-electric, an all-electric or diesel.
Researching insurance companies can save drivers hundreds or thousands per year. Enquire about seniors discounts and special rates when home and auto insurance are combined. If you reduce your deductible by $200 to $500, it could reduce collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 percent or more. Group insurance is another potential money-saving option.
Some insurance providers allow drivers to install a telematics device in their vehicle (or download an app to their smartphone) to have their driving habits recorded in an effort to reduce auto insurance premiums. Good driving habits can reduce premiums by as much as 25 percent.
Leasing versus buying
Study the financial pros and cons of leasing vs. financing. Leasing is an attractive option for many, but it is not for everyone. Any sales and leasing consultant at any new car dealership will provide you with a leasing vs. purchasing price comparison based on your financial circumstances and driving habits.
A good driving record
A single traffic ticket may not affect your insurance premiums, but several tickets (or accidents) within a short time span will. Avoid speeding or driving recklessly, do not text and drive without the aid of a hands-free device, and do not drive while under the influence of alcohol.
Factory-recommended oil changes, tune-ups and proper tire pressure can reduce gas consumption by as much as 25 percent and reduce operating expenses over the long run. Check your owner’s manual for information about scheduled maintenance and general car care advice.
By sharing the driving with others, you could save $25 or more per month on gas on a 30-kilometre round trip each day, not to mention reducing wear and tear on your vehicle. By adding more people to the carpool, you will save even more.
Extra car weight
Remove heavy loads that are not essential for your daily driving. During the winter, you may have installed bags of sand or salt in your trunk to help stabilize the vehicle in slippery conditions. Heavier loads have an impact on fuel economy.
Plan trips in advance to avoid potential traffic jams, and do not idle excessively. Install a GPS-based mobile traffic app (such as Waze), which will help you identify speed traps, construction, accidents and other traffic disruptions. Maintaining speed limits, accelerating gently and using your air conditioner sparingly will also help to reduce fuel costs.
Although all new vehicles come with standard warranties — typically three-year/60,000-km (whichever comes first) coverage or four-year/80,000-km coverage for luxury brands — buying an extended warranty at the time of purchase can save you money on auto repairs and maintenance. Ford, the brand that I represent, offers factory, pre-paid maintenance programs for new and pre-owned vehicles. These programs are honoured at all Ford dealerships across Canada and the U.S., and if you sell your vehicle, the remaining coverage may be transferred to a new owner.
Remove snow tires
Snow tires are typically larger and have deeper treads than regular tires, and they use more fuel. As soon as the snow is gone for good, replace the snows with summer or all-season tires.
This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to [email protected] or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.