Anyone will tell you Americans love their cars. Yet any American will tell you that love doesn’t come cheap.
Cars are the most expensive thing owned by most Americans who rent and the second-most expensive thing for those who do have a home.
Here are our best tips to save money on your car expenses!
You might also like: 9 Tips to extend the life of your car
Monitor the corrosion level of your battery
The batteries in your car have a life span of between 3 and 5 years, depending on the use and maintenance provided. There is one simple step you can take to conserve your car’s battery to extend its life.
Batteries produce energy through chemical reactions that occur inside. Those chemical reactions are affected by temperature, whether normal or extreme.
They are charged when you drive, then discharged mainly during start-up. The less your battery is charged, the worse it ages.
So what can you do?
Each battery has two very strong acids inside and, depending on the season, it is normal for the battery terminals to suffer from corrosion over time, which can affect their proper functioning. If you notice that the terminals of your battery are rusting, brush them immediately with a steel brush and sparkling water.
You can also apply a lubricant spray to improve the protection of your battery, which will save you maintenance costs and improve its life.
The Basics: Car cleaning: 10 tips to wash your car like a pro!
Buy a new or used car?
If you want to sell your vehicle and buy a new one… just ask yourself this question: do you want to buy a new car at a dealership or a used vehicle from a private individual or a garage?
When you buy a new vehicle, you pay more than a used vehicle, so you have less repair to do in the medium term. However, once your car has left the dealership (i.e. after the first kilometer, it loses between 10 to 20% of its value).
Only you can decide!
Negotiate your car insurance
Not all insurers assess risks in the same way. Every car insurance has its own pricing structure, depending on the customer’s age, place of residence or bonus. At the end of your contract, you must therefore do your search.
The insurer will be more likely to reduce the premium amount if you submit a competitor’s quote. In October, a private individual subscriber was offered a premium of €970 for his new Renault Scenic by Axa, his insurance company.
The next day, his bank, LCL, offered him the same services for only €686. Axa has finally aligned itself with this rate. Our subscriber has thus achieved 30% savings on his annual premium.
Of course check to see if the different quotes include identical conditions. In particular, you will need to control the amount of the deductible and ensure that the broken glass is included.
Rent your car, an additional income!
Are you on vacation? Do you work from home? Do you want an additional income? So why not rent your car if you don’t use it?
Many sites today offer to put you in touch with people who want to rent your car. It is exactly the same principle as for airbnb.com except that instead of renting your apartment, you rent your vehicle for a fee!
Websites such as turo.com or getaround.com offer, on subscription, to rent your vehicle to individuals, by the hour, by the day or for a weekend. An ideal way to amortize the cost of purchasing your car.
Be careful, if getaround.com accepts all types of vehicles, turo.com refuses models over 10 years old or worth more than 30,000$. Depending on the sites, either you determine the amount of the rental yourself, or a price list gives you an indicative price.
In case of damage, the borrower of the vehicle will have to pay a high deductible: 1200$ and up to 3000$.
Car maintenance: Tires first
If the tread of your tires is too worn, you will have difficulty braking in an emergency or manoeuvring on slippery roads.
« Put a 10-cent coin in a tire groove with the tip of the Bluenose sail at the bottom, » says Glenn Maidment, President of the Canadian Tire and Rubber Association. If you see all the sails, your car’s tire needs to be replaced.
Driving on a deflated tire requires more energy. If only one pound is missing from a single tire, you lose up to 0.5% of the yield per litre/kilometer. And guess what?
About half of all vehicles in Canada use at least one tire with a pressure 10% lower or higher than recommended.
One more thing: A tire that is more than 10 years old must be replaced for safety reasons. Indeed, its performance deteriorates with age. How? the rubber can harden and crack. In fact, most tire professionals recommend that tires should not exceed six years from manufacture to sale to the end customer.
But the state of conservation varies so much according to the storage conditions that no period of time can be fixed by law.
Temperature in the passenger compartment
Any electrical appliance powered by the car increases your fuel consumption, especially air conditioning. For equal comfort, the higher the outside temperature, the greater the overconsumption.
For example, at 77°F in clear weather, for an air conditioning setting of 72°F: in cities, your car will consume on average 8% more fuel. On roads or highways, the average overconsumption is about 5%.
So, park your vehicle in the shade whenever possible. And, open the windows before switching on the air conditioning system to evacuate as much heat as possible.
Try not exceed a temperature difference of 4 to 5°C between the outside and inside of the car. And if possible, avoid turning on the air conditioning for short distances, as it only has an effect after a few kilometers.
The home garage solution
A formula popularized by Internet and which offers many advantages and saves time. You can select the garage that offers you the best formulas to pamper your vehicle.
This solution adapts to your schedule because you do not have to wait in the garage and the service provider can also visit your workplace if it is convenient for you.
Your vehicle will not be immobilized for several days and you will save on average 20 to 30% compared to the services provided by a traditional garage or in a dealership.
What ever you choose, make sure first your garage is well organized before. How? Here is How to organize and optimize your garage space
Make that old leather look like new!
There are diverging opinions on the products to use for the care of leather seats. It is no coincidence that leather cleaning is one of the most demanding areas of vehicle maintenance.
If you want your seats to remain clean for a long period of time, you should take care of them at least twice a year.
While many people swear by « homemade » products, such as dishwashing liquid or castor oil, retailers offer a wide range of special products for all types of leather.
Whatever you choose, be sure to brush the leather thoroughly before applying the product you have chosen. Add a little liquid, use a cotton cloth, then carefully wipe the leather after cleaning.
You might deal with surface stains yourself. But, it is better to consult a specialist for more stubborn stains such as traces of grease or chewing gum.