73. Save $1,000s per year – 27 ways to save money on transportation: New Cars, Used Cars, Leased Cars, Repair, Maintenance
Transportation: New Cars
1. Avoid new cars. Because cars are made better now than they used to be, buying used isn't as risky as it used to be. Buying a car even two years old can save you from 25% to 40%. But if you are going to buy new…
2. Always negotiate price, never payments. Payments can be manipulated so that practically anything is affordable. Salespeople will always try to get you to talk payments. Good negotiators always talk price: the payments will take care of themselves.
3. Choose your make and model carefully. You obviously want to buy a car that’s within your price range, but don’t forget to consider other costs, like insurance, gas mileage, maintenance and repair. These numbers are available in new car guides at your library or online at websites like kbb.com and edmunds.com
4. Get the dealers invoice price before you shop. You can find it at many web sites (like the ones above) or in new-car guides at the library. Your objective is to pay no more than 3% over the invoice amount. Don’t forget to also get the dealers invoice price of the options you want on your car and negotiate those too!
5. Just say NO to fees. One of the main ways dealers make money on cars is to pad prices with extra fees like “documentation,” “advertising” and all kinds of others. Eliminate the ones you can, understand the ones you can't, and check the final contract to make sure that eliminated fees don’t magically reappear.
6. Always get pre-approved for a loan before you shop. Even if you end up using dealer financing, its important to know how much you can borrow and what the rates will be. That makes you a tougher negotiator. You'll especially need to know this information in order to choose between a rebate and low-interest financing. There are online calculators that will help you decide between a rebate and low-interest financing (do a web search), but generally, the rebate is the best option.
Transportation: Used Cars
7. Always buy used. A two-year-old car may have depreciated in price by 50%, but its still got 70% of its useful life left. That’s why used cars are nearly always a better deal than new. Plus, the insurance cost is lower.
8. Always be pre-approved for a loan before you shop. Like with new-car shopping, you want to have all the loan details worked out before you go shopping. That way when you find what you're looking for you can pounce before it gets away.
9. Do your homework. Check the cost of repairs, maintenance, licensing, fuel and insurance before you decide on a make and model. Then arm yourself with the suggested retail and wholesale prices. You can find them at car websites (see above), in used car guides at the library or through your credit union or other lender.
10. Check with private sellers. Dealers offer the advantage of broader selection and in some situations, warranties. Private sellers may offer you a better deal, however, and you also get to see who's been driving the car and how its been kept and maintained. But the greatest advantage of private sellers is that you don't have to feel outclassed sales-wise.
11. Make friends with a mechanic or two. Mechanics often hear of people who want out of their car. They cannot only help you find a great car at a great price, but they can sometimes vouch for the condition of the car.
12. Don't think of buying a used car without a thorough inspection. Even if your car of choice was driven only to church on Sundays, have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified mechanic before you think of buying it. This cannot only help you avoid a nightmare, it could also help you negotiate a better price.
Transportation: Leasing Cars
13. Leasing is more complicated than buying. But when you boil it down, leasing is essentially like financing part of a cars life. There are three main components to a lease: the capitalized cost (“purchase” price), the money factor (interest rate), the residual value (what its worth when the lease is up). You should be familiar with each of these terms, because changing any one of them will change the lease payments. And when you approach leasing, ignore payments. Negotiate the capitalized cost just like you would if you were buying, then the money factor, just like you would if you were borrowing. Let the payments take care of themselves.
14. Be aware of the fees for excess mileage and excess wear and tear. They should show up in microscopic print somewhere in the contract. Understand them, and realize that average lease return fees total more than $1,000. Think about that before you lease.
15. Whether you're buying or leasing, negotiate the value of your trade-in before you negotiate the new car. Actually, you should never trade in a used car. You're nearly always better off selling it yourself. But if you are going to trade in your old car, establish its value first before you start on the new car purchase. The dealer will want to make it a part of the new car transaction. It isn't.
Transportation: Repair, Maintenance, etc.
16. Always use the lowest octane gas your owners manual suggests. While only 15% of cars require premium, 25% of gasoline sold is premium. Why? Probably because some people respond to advertising instead of reading their owners manual.
17. Keep your car tuned and check your tires. These simple things can easily save you $100/year in gas, not to mention giant increases in your engine and tire life.
18. Car pool! Sharing the ride with just one other person will cut your commuting costs in half. You'll also reduce your stress level by 50%.
You can get a more affordable, faster and greener commute if you simply use Carma – a site that enables you to find a match and share the driving costs: https://www.carmacarpool.com/
19. Keep your air and fuel filters clean. Your car will perform better, your mileage will increase and your engine will last longer. Best of all, these items are inexpensive.
20. Make it a habit to be a smooth operator. Scan the road ahead and try to anticipate any slowdowns. Try to maintain as constant a speed as possible. That will save gas and make you a safer driver.
21. Lighten up. Roof racks hurt mileage by spoiling your aerodynamics. If you don't use 'em, lose 'em. To increase your mileage even more, take the excess weight out of your car.
22. Get a good mechanic. The best way to save money on cars is to keep yours as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to have it serviced well and regularly. To find a good mechanic, try calling some classified ads placed by people selling cars similar to yours. They might have a good suggestion. In most cities, you can also check with AAA, even if you're not a member. At the minimum, find a mechanic that's certified and experienced with your type of car. Always get estimates in writing before work is done and always get used parts back.
Consumers lose billions of dollars each year on unneeded or poorly done car repairs. The most important step that you can take to save money on these repairs is to find a skilled, honest mechanic. Before you need repairs, look for a mechanic who:
- is certified and well established;
- has done good work for someone you know;
- communicates well about repair options and costs.
23. If they'll work as well, try used or rebuilt parts. Your mechanic or body shop will know if OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are necessary or desirable. If they are, fine. But if they're not, you can save a bundle.
24. Shop rental cars! If you're going to rent a car, comparison-shop heavily. Prices differ a bunch depending on company, current demand and location. Don't hesitate to pit companies against each other. And ask as many times as possible about special deals, promotions, coupons, and any source of potential savings such as membership in AARP or AAA. Even while you're standing at the counter waiting for your reserved car, its not too late to ask for a discount or free upgrade. Sometimes a smile and a simple request will do wonders.
25. Don't buy rental car insurance if you can avoid it. These policies rank high among the western worlds great rip-offs. Your regular car insurance or possibly even your gold credit card will often render it unnecessary. Check before you leave home.
26. Keep change in your car. How many times have you not fed a parking meter because you couldn't find any change? Keep some in your car at all times and avoid unnecessary tickets.
27. Make travel less taxing. Keep a little notebook in your car so you can record the mileage you log on deductible trips. Trips to the doctor, job-hunting trips, trips for charity: all deductible, which means you could be on the road to lower taxes.