Transportation can eat up a lot of your monthly income. In many households it is second only to their housing expenses. Between the cost of buying the car, the cost to put gas in, the insurance and of course the maintenance, it can add up to thousands per year.
It doesn’t have to be that way, however. There are a lot of ways to save money when you are buying a car and then plenty more for owning it. This is good news for those people that are stretched thin right now due to the stagnant economy.
In this article, we will go over several money saving tips for the moment you plan to buy a car to how to keep the ownership costs down.
Do your homework
Research is the key to getting a good deal on a new or pre-owned car. You have to see what is out there and what people are paying so you have a point of reference when you go to the dealership.
Start out with how much you are looking to spend for the car. Then break that down into how much it will cost per month for your payments. Make sure to use a loan calculator with what you expect to pay in interest. Once you have your numbers then you can find the make, model and year of the cars that are available to you.
You can then look at the websites of your local car dealers. Many, like this Waxahachie Ford dealership, will have a list of their current inventory so you can then go straight to the dealer that has the cars that are in your price range.
This is important because you don’t want to go to a dealer that doesn’t have any cars in your price range. It is very hard to leave the lot without buying. Often, people end up getting pressured into a car that is more than they wanted to pay.
Starting this way will also put you in a position in which the brand or model of the car is not so important. Being loyal to a brand will mean that you have little power in negotiating since you will want the right model whatever the cost.
Be a negotiator
There is usually some wiggle room when it comes to price if you do things right. You’ll have to drive a hard bargain to get the price that you want, but you can do it in a way that favors you. First, try to go to the lots when they are trying to clear last year’s inventory. You can definitely shave off a few thousand dollars when you buy last year’s models that are still brand new if they have been sittin on the lot for a while.
Second, you can get the right price by not buying right away. In fact, after the test drive you should tell the salesperson that you have to think it over. Then negotiate by email or over the phone. As you leave the lot they will throw some numbers at you so make sure to write down what the offers are before you go.
When you still leave after they’ve given you their so-called lowest offer you will find they will negotiate from a distance as they will want to make that sale.
Go for a pre-owned vehicle
Cars depreciate very quickly so you can use that to your advantage when buying. Instead of buying new, you should look into models that are two to three years old that are certified pre-owned at a dealership.
This is not a fancy way to say used. A certified pre-owned car is one in which it has had an owner and been traded in. Then the dealership changes all the worn parts and makes it almost identical to a new version.
You’ll usually get some of the leftover warranty as well. The savings will also carry over once you buy as your insurance costs will be lower.
Save on car insurance
When you are first insuring your car, there is an opportunity to save by shopping around. Rates vary between providers so making a few phone calls can end up saving hundreds. You can do a quote online, but calling almost always puts you into better savings.
Once you have the car insured, there are ways to continue saving. Some insurers will give you a device that records your driving metrics. For instance, it knows how fast you drive and even how hard you use the brakes. It even determines whether most of your driving is in the city or on the highway. All of this data gets processed and if you are a good driver with good habits then you will see your insurance rate going down over time.
Keep it maintained
The better you take care of your car, the better it will take care of you. And your wallet. Doing things like oil changes and tune ups seem like a strange way to save money since you have to pay for them. But when you do, it keeps the car running better so you have less to spend on repairs.
Even taking care of your tires will save you hundreds of dollars. Rotating them will keep them lasting longer as they don’t all wear at the same rate. Since you have to buy a full set as soon as one is too worn out, rotating them keeps them all lasting longer.
Keeping your tires properly inflated also helps them last longer, but also improves your mileage. Part of mileage hacking is always keeping your tires to the proper pressure so they don’t cost you more in gas than you should be paying.
Check out your owner’s manual so you know what needs to be replaced and when. A timing belt breaking will kill your engine and be a very costly mistake. Stay on top of these things and you won’t have bigger problems later on.
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