We’re all trying to save money in as many ways as possible in this day and age. Many Americans are dealing with new debts due to the pandemic, while at the same time struggling with the fact that their jobs have become inaccessible or reduced in some way. Your household budget may well have changed dramatically, as has the way you deal with your monthly bills. What may have seemed like a high-priority bill just a few months ago is now not as important as ensuring that you, at the very least, have your rent or mortgage payment ready by the first of the month.
As Americans, it’s essentially impossible to live without a certain amount of regular expenses. While those expenses may vary a bit depending on your lifestyle and where you live, most Americans need roofs over their heads and some form of transportation to get them from place to place. While those who live in extremely urban settings may be able to get around easily on foot or through the use of public transportation, the majority of us live in areas wherein we need cars to get to the grocery store or pharmacy. Those who live more rural lifestyles need them even more so.
Of course, some of us don’t necessarily use our cars as much as we once did, as we are spending more time at home. We may be working from home, furloughed, or even laid off and hunting new jobs; those of us attending school may also be handling that from home now as well. But inevitably, if you needed a car before your quarantine started, you’ll still need one now.
With that being said, these necessary parts of our lives also end up costing most of us a lot of money. Even low cost vehicles require a good deal of upkeep. If you had to take on a car payment rather than paying for your car outright, you could very well end up paying the car off for years. Nonetheless, a big part of the cost of any car is the maintenance required. Lots of people attempt to cut down on their regular costs by putting off typical mechanical repairs. However, this can actually end up costing them more in the long term. Putting a band-aid on your car’s problems will not make those problems go away — and when you do finally get those mechanical issues handled, they’ll likely be more severe if you ignored them for a while. As a result, you’ll end up paying more to fix them.
There are, however, strategies that you can undertake in order to keep your car’s costs down and prevent unnecessary damage. Let’s look into some of them.
1. Use Your Garage
This may seem fairly straightforward. However, you would be surprised by how many people don’t use their garages for what they’re actually meant for. Think about how often you may have used your garage to store junk that you don’t really need (or, for that matter, things that you do need). Furthermore, many people with low cost vehicles dismiss the fact that they need to keep their cars housed within their garages.
But leaving your car outside of an extended period of time does have an effect. Even low cost vehicles need to be properly cared for, after all! Because some of these cars are older, they may actually be more susceptible to damage. A car that spends too much time outside is exposed to severe weather, as well as potential vandalism. You may decide to skip paying for paint damage repair until a later date, even if rust starts to appear. But if your car’s windshield is damaged by hale or a rock is thrown through it, that is something you won’t be able to put off as easily.
If you’ve decided to put your car regularly in your garage for the first time, there’s more to preparing your garage than simply clearing it out. That in itself can take quite a bit of time. But you can do it if you make a checklist and are ruthless about what you’re keeping and what you’re getting rid of. At times, garages can sustain more damage than we may realize, which may result in you have to undertake more serious tasks like home water damage cleanup. But if you simply used your garage as extra storage space and rarely opened or closed your garage door, you’ll want to make sure that it isn’t damaged. If your garage lacks the capability for a remote garage door opener, you may want to think about having it altered or replaced. A garage door that can be remotely replaced is not only physically easier to use but is also more secure. You may also want to consider a steel garage door installation. These types of alterations may require something of an investment, but a safer and more secure garage results in a safer and more secure car.
Not everyone has a garage, of course. If you must park your car on the street or in your driveway, you can invest in covers that will at least help shield your car from superficial damage. But certain areas also offer covered garages where you can pay to park your car. If you live in an area where you can walk to one of these garages from your house, it may very well be worth it.
2. Keep Your Car Secure When You’re Away
This may at first seem to be a similar piece of advice to what was mentioned above. But here, we’re referring to what you should do with your car when you go on vacation or need to leave it for an extended period of time.
Whether you’ve invested in new cars or low cost vehicles, you should know that theft and vandalism are risks for any vehicle owner. Cars are often stolen not so much for their inherent value, but for the value of their parts. Therefore, many owners who assumed that their low cost vehicles would be overlooked may be in for a shock when they come home and realize that their cars have been stolen or vandalized for parts.
One way that you can avoid this happening is by leaving your car with friends or family when you’re away for an extended period of time. You can also potentially pay to have your car parked in garages or secure parking facilities. Some mechanics even offer this among their automotive services; they will not only watch your car while you’re gone but perform regular maintenance services with your authorization. If you’re traveling for a relatively short amount of time and will be heading to your destination by plane, you should consider using a simple airport car service. This will ensure that your car is secure while you’re gone and will be waiting for you when you return.
3. Invest In Roadside Assistance
All too often, drivers push their cars “through the pain” and drive home when they really should pull over. This could simply be because they don’t know how to handle basic repairs. Unfortunately, this could cause serious internal damage in the vehicle, even if the issue is something as seemingly minor as a flat tire.
If your car is performing poorly, a quick roadside repair could be all that it needs in order to ensure that you don’t end up paying more for serious auto repairs down the road. Of course, a lot of vehicle owners are understandably cautious to repair their cars on their own. If a repair is done incorrectly, you could actually end up inflicting more damage than you would have had you simply left the issue alone. With that being said, you don’t have to ignore the problem — nor do you need to become a master mechanic to get it fixed.
In this day and age, a lot of car insurance policies offer emergency auto roadside assistance. This type of assistance would usually allow you to have minor repairs, like removing a tire and replacing it with your spare tire, easily performed by a professional. For that matter, it would also allow you to have your car towed safely and professionally to the mechanic of your choosing. This would mean that not only would you avoid having your car damaged, but you also wouldn’t have to hurry to see the closest mechanics.
Often, this type of emergency roadside assistance may result in a more expensive policy. Those with low cost vehicles often try to pay as little for insurance as possible. If your car has a lower value, you may not want to pay a higher premium to maintain it. However, an emergency roadside assistance program has true value. Not only will it result in your car being taken care of more quickly and with the kind efficiency that you need, but it will also keep you much safer as you head home. Ultimately, the cost of protecting your car with roadside assistance is well worth it.
4. Drive Safely
This may seem incredibly obvious. It’s something that everyone knows that they should observe. But just because you know that you should drive safely doesn’t mean that you’re doing everything that you can to do so.
Many people drive intoxicated without even fully realizing it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re driving in a nice car with plenty of accident prevention technology or you’re one of the available low cost vehicles with more miles on the speedometer — a drunk driving accident can happen to anyone. These incidents can permanently damage your vehicle or even destroy it. Even worse, they can cause people to become hurt or even killed. You may very well end up serving prison time as a result, which hardly makes it worth the risk. If you’ve had anything to drink while out, you should be driven home by someone else. In fact, if you’re out with friends, you may very well be able to have them drive you home within your car. This, of course, would allow you to get home without worrying about where your car has been parked. Even if you do have to leave your car behind, everyone is safe if you just leave it there. If you’re really more worried about car than anything else, it’s going to cost you less to get your car back than it would to have it repaired following an accident — or to buy a new car entirely, in certain cases.
Of course, car accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Some low cost vehicles genuinely don’t have the type of accident prevention technology that they should, which could result in a lack of control in severe weather or other hazardous conditions. This is why you shouldn’t drive on slick or icy roads unless you absolutely must. A lot of accidents today, however, occur simply because people are driving when distracted. Distracted driving could occur because you hit the road while talking on your cell phone. They could also happen because you’re texting or more focused on another driver’s behavior than your own. Whenever you’re driving, the key is not being nervous but instead of being careful. You need to understand that anything can happen because you simply can’t control what other drivers will do.
So much of cutting down on the costs associated with keeping a car, particularly when it comes to low cost vehicles, is related to regular maintenance. As irritating as it may be to painstakingly invest in every type of vehicular maintenance, this will ultimately keep those low cost vehicles and expensive vehicles alike running for a longer amount of time. Maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your car. That’s why it’s recommended that you have your tires rotated for every 3,000 to 7,000 miles that you drive and why you should always have your oil changed regularly. Invest in your car incrementally, and you will see a long-term payoff. Prevention is key — so do everything you can to keep your car in excellent condition in order to promote safety and lower costs.