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12 Ways to Save on Car Expenses

What you buy and how you maintain it can make a big difference

spinner image 12 Ways to Save on Car Expenses
Cars that are black, white or silver may sell faster when traded in.
Car Culture/Corbis

1. Don’t over-oil.

Getting an oil change every 3,000 miles is so 20th century. Many newer cars use synthetic oils that last 7,500 miles or more and include oil change indicators. Go to for the recommended oil change interval for 2000-14 models. Not only will you save money by not changing your oil as often, you will contribute to a cleaner environment.

2. Clean your battery.

Although very cold temperatures can reduce a battery’s power by up to 50 percent, summer’s heat is hardest on its internal mechanism. To minimize problems, clean corrosion from terminals with a mixture of baking soda and water on a small brush, and tighten cable connections. Get your battery tested if it’s more than three years old.

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3. Choose colors wisely.

Cars that are black, white or silver may sell faster when traded in (but they’re also preferred by car thieves). Cars with more unusual hues, such as yellow or orange, retain more value, according to a recent study.

4. Inflate and save.

Extreme temperature changes can lower tire air pressure, adversely affecting gas mileage and causing tires to wear more quickly. It’s best to check tires regularly to maintain the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.

5. Don’t trade too soon.

The rule of thumb for trading in a car for a new model used to be well before it reached 100,000 miles — car odometers typically registered no more than 99,999 not too long ago! But cars last longer today. Competition among manufacturers, anticorrosion protection and better lubricants are helping to keep many drivers behind the same wheel for 250,000 miles or more.

6. Save with SUVs.

Buy a minivan or SUV and you’ll likely save on car insurance. Two minivans and seven SUVs were included on the list of the 10 least expensive vehicles to insure in 2015, according to Not surprising is that high-end sports cars had the highest insurance costs.

7. Combine errands.

When you’re running errands, combine trips and drive to the farthest destination first so your car can warm up for maximum fuel efficiency. Starting with closer stops reduces your gas mileage.

8. Maximize gas rewards.

Grocery chains like Safeway, Kroger and Winn-Dixie offer gasoline rewards programs. Get friends and family to share a club card number so points pile up faster.

9. Do your homework. gives free quotes for car repairs using a patented auto repair price estimator that aims to educate car owners about the fair cost of auto repair.

10. Research repair costs.

To learn what owners say about problems and repair costs for particular car models, go to

11. Label your tires.

To confirm that your garage did tire rotations as promised, label your tires so you can tell if they have been properly rotated before you pay the bill.

12. B.Y.O.P.

Some car repair shops will install parts brought in by customers, which could save you money.

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