6 ways to lower your car expenses

Shopping around for car insurance and cashback rewards can lower your auto expenses. (iStock)

Many consumers are seeking ways to lower expenses in their budget, especially if they face reduced work hours because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Costs for car insurance, maintenance, and fueling your vehicle adds up quickly. Reviewing your costs and shopping around can help save you hundreds of dollars a year. Credible's partners can help you pick the right plan for you and ensure you save money and time.

6 ways to lower your car expenses

Here are six ways to reduce costs related to your vehicle.

  1. Review your car insurance policy
  2. Earn cashback rewards at the gas station
  3. Review your auto loan
  4. Sell your car
  5. Conduct regular maintenance 
  6. Review roadside assistance programs

1. Review your car insurance policy

Your driving habits could have changed since your policy started. If you’ve cut down on your commute, it could mean additional savings, said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization.

“There’s also the chance that you could be missing out on new promotions and safe driving discounts,” he said.

Start by checking with your current provider, but shop around to see if there are more competitive offers worth considering. Comparing multiple insurance quotes can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year. And, it’s easy to get a free quote in minutes through Credible’s partners here.

A significant life change such as a marriage, divorce, or moving to a new location can also impact your monthly premium, said Jackie Boies, a senior director of housing and bankruptcy services for Money Management International, a Sugar Land, Texas-based nonprofit debt counseling organization.

Many insurance companies offer discounts for various employers, a safe driver, or a good student discount.

Head over to Credible to get a free quote. It only takes two minutes.

Sometimes taking a defensive driving course can lower premiums, but make sure you meet the age qualifications, said Leslie Tayne, a Melville, N.Y. attorney specializing in debt relief.

“It's an excellent idea to periodically review your car insurance policy – at the very least when your policy renews, have a change in circumstances or when an increase is imposed,” she said.

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2. Earn cashback rewards at the gas station

There are several ways to earn fuel discounts and cashback at the gas station. You could pay for your gas with a credit card that rewards your loyalty with cashback each time you fill the tank, McClary said.

You could also get discounts on the price of gas by using shoppers reward discounts at your grocery store, especially if it’s a major or nationwide chain like Kroger or Safeway, he said.

Visit an ​online marketplace like Credible​ to find the right credit card for you.

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3. Review your auto loan 

Refinancing might be a good option, especially if your credit score increased since you received the loan. Shop around to see if you can score a more competitive interest rate that will make it easier to pay off the debt sooner, McClary said. If your credit score is good and improved since you obtained the loan, you should contact your current lender for an estimate, Boies said.

Use an auto loan calculator online to calculate potential savings, Tayne said.

“When switching lenders, ask how interest is charged and if there are penalties for making early payments, so you know what to expect if you refinance,” she said.

Visit an ​online marketplace like Credible​ to explore personal loan options.

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4. Sell your car

If you are still working from home and have other options such as car-sharing services or taking mass transportation, you could consider selling your car, especially if you live with someone who has a car.

“If you’ve moved to remote work, perhaps you don’t even need a vehicle,” Boies said. “Or maybe a two-vehicle family can manage well with just one vehicle. The potential for savings on payments, insurance, and maintenance is tremendous.”

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5. Conduct regular maintenance

Taking your car in for routine maintenance can help you avoid larger costs in the future.

“Make sure you are keeping up with regular maintenance like oil changes, tire rotation, and alignment,” McClary said. “Ignoring these items may save you some money in the short term but could cause costly repair issues down the road and ultimately shorten the life of your car.”

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6. Review roadside assistance programs

Many consumers have multiple forms of roadside assistance, Tayne said. After the purchase of a new car, roadside assistance is often covered for the first few years of ownership or the life of the lease.

“Many insurance policies will bundle or try to upsell policyholders to include roadside assistance in their policy,” she said. “If you’re a member of another group like AAA that also has roadside assistance, it may make sense to remove it from their insurance policy since they're covered through their auto manufacturer and AAA.”

Already have good car insurance but want to make sure you are alerted when you can get a better deal? Credible’s partners can send you free quotes if they find you a better rate.

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