Keeping Your Car from Becoming a Money Pit

money pit car

For many people, car ownership is an essential step towards achieving personal independence and reaching adulthood. But unfortunately, owning a car has a way of making life more difficult. That’s because, more times than not, owning a vehicle means spending thousands every year to ensure you keep driving. 

Buying a car has always been an expensive proposition, but the cost of car ownership has skyrocketed in recent decades. Between the price tag, taxes, fees, financing, refueling, insurance, maintenance, and repairs, the average car owner spends over $8000 each year for the privilege of staying on the road. 

Enough is enough! It’s time to stop letting our cars become money pits. They’re supposed to provide us with more freedom, not burden us with more financial strain. With this in mind, let’s take a look at six ways to lower the cost of car ownership: 

Cheaper insurance

Motor vehicle insurance is required by law in most states and countries, making it a necessary expense associated with car ownership. However, most people overpay on their car insurance when compared to more affordable coverage. A 100 300 insurance policy - combined with a third number indicating property damage coverage - is more than sufficient for most drivers. Higher limits generally come with higher premiums, meaning more money spent each month on insurance you likely don’t need. 

Preventive maintenance

Many drivers think oil changes, tire rotation, and yearly tuneups are optional aspects of vehicle maintenance. They couldn’t be more wrong. Preventive maintenance is critical to keeping your vehicle in peak condition. Doing so reduces the chances of costly repairs, ultimately lowering the cost of car ownership. What’s more, scheduled maintenance extends the life of your vehicle, allowing you to get more mileage out of it or sell it for a better price. 

Safe driving

Wear and tear is an unavoidable consequence of driving. However, aggressive maneuvers and other reckless behavior behind the wheel will cause parts of your car to prematurely fail and require expensive repairs. Combined with the dangers posed to yourself and others by unsafe driving, the writing is on the wall - or the road in this case - that responsible driving is critical. 

Mindful parking

A parking ticket now and then is not a big deal from a cost-benefit point of view. However, amassing large quantities of parking tickets is a recipe for financial disaster. In addition to the cost of the tickets themselves, fees and penalties for failing to pay on time can lead to hundreds more owed. Drag your feet long enough, and you could even face criminal penalties, including jail time. All things considered, it’s probably better to pony up the $25 bucks for garage parking than risk the $100 fine for parking someplace you shouldn’t. 

Reliable service

Car dealerships will do anything to get you to bring your car to them for service. Unfortunately, most dealerships charge an arm and a leg for basic maintenance, and the price goes up from there if you need any significant work done. Rather than go to the dealership, consider finding a trustworthy mechanic operating independently. These mom-and-pop repair shops tend to charge less while providing the same level of service. 

On-time payments

Whether it’s the car payment, insurance premium, property taxes, or license fees, it’s always in your best interest to pay on time. Doing so avoids additional interest, late fees, and possible court dates. All added up, on-time payments will save you hundreds, if not thousands, throughout your lifetime. 

Car ownership has never been a cheap privilege. With that said, it shouldn’t have to cost someone thousands every year. There are effective ways to lower the cost of car ownership, making the prospect of affordable driving a possibility for virtually everyone behind the wheel.