Driving a car and saving money seem mutually exclusive. At home, you have expenses like the mortgage, bills, and taxes. Behind the wheel, it’s more of the same. You have to pay for insurance, gas, and maintenance.
Bad driving can cost you big bucks, but the opposite is also true. In fact, saving $477 while driving is easy. Want to save hundreds of dollars every year while driving? Here’s how to do it. These tips might not help you avoid getting a ticket, but they will help you save enough money to pay the fine when you are ticketed.
1. Don’t drive aggressively
- Potential savings: $477
The easiest way to save money behind the wheel is by not driving like a cabbie. That is, accelerate slowly and brake gently. The folks at GasBuddy estimate savings of $477 if you just avoid aggressive driving.
Next: We give you some tips to save money behind the wheel.
2. Drive the speed limit
- Potential savings: $0.18 per gallon
It’s tempting to zip around a slow driver or lay on the gas when you see some open road. Resist the temptation. Fuel economy drops sharply at any speed over 50 mph. The government’s own fuel economy tips website estimates it costs 18 cents per gallon for every 5 mph over 50 (based on gas costing $2.50 per gallon). So, keeping your speed in check puts money back in your bank account.
Next: Stay streamlined
3. Get aerodynamic
- Potential savings: $0.05 per gallon
If you have a large family or you’re going on a long road trip, a rooftop cargo box might be a necessity. You need to ditch it the rest of the time. Per the fuel economy tips website, a rooftop cargo holder reduces fuel economy anywhere between 2% and 17% depending on if you’re doing city or highway driving. That equates to anywhere between 5 and 42 cents per gallon (at $2.50 a gallon).
Next: Think only of the bare essentials.
4. Travel light
- Potential savings: $0.02 per gallon
In this case, think of a car like a person. If you had an extra 100 pounds on your frame, everything you do would be much more strenuous. The same is true of your car. Are you still hauling your golf clubs around in the trunk every day? Stop. The extra cargo won’t do your car any favors. Every 100 pounds reduces fuel efficiency by 1%. Unload the extra weight and you could save as much as 2 cents a gallon.
Next: Save money and help the planet, too
5. Don’t let the engine run
- Potential savings: $0.02 per minute
Have you been at a stop light recently and heard an engine restart when the light turned green again? That driver is helping the environment. Every year, idling cars use up 3 billion gallons of fuel and emit 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. Each hour an engine spends idling uses up to a half gallon of gas, or roughly 2 cents a minute. Over the course of the year, that little bit adds up. Plus, letting the engine run before driving is pointless. Modern cars don’t need time to warm up like older models.
Next: Let your car work for you.
6. Use the cruise control
- Potential savings: $0.01 per mile
Using the cruise control when you’re on the open road is a great way to save money. Edmunds tested some driving techniques and got an average of 7% savings on fuel costs using cruise control. Doing so eliminates some of the fluctuations that can guzzle gas. If your car gets 300 miles per gallon normally, you should be able to go 321 miles using cruise. Your cost per mile (assuming gas at $2.50) would be close to 1 cent per mile. That’s $100 per year if you drive 10,000 miles.
Next: Take matters into your own hands.
7. Do simple maintenance yourself
- Potential savings: $145
You won’t need to change your spark plugs regularly, but when it’s time for a change you can save by doing the job yourself. Rather than paying the dealer $188 to do the job, a blogger at Debt Roundup saved $145 by doing it himself. Swapping out spark plugs is easy and is one of the fixes that can help your car go 300,000 miles and beyond. Changing your own oil and air filters are easy fixes that can help your mileage while not having to pay a mechanic to do it for you.
Next: Our final tip is a guaranteed money saver.
8. Don’t drive at all
- Potential savings: Way more than $477
If you’re truly looking to save money on driving and related costs, your best bet is eliminating driving altogether. Think about it. You don’t have to pay for insurance. You won’t have any fuel costs. Car payments would be in your rearview mirror, and you won’t have to worry about any cost-saving tricks. True, it’s easier said than done, but it’s the one guaranteed way not to have spend money on your vehicle.
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