Statistics show that U.S. inflation has risen over 8% since 2021, making the spike the most considerable in over 40 years. As a result, consumers are spending more on food, gas, healthcare, and housing. When the prices of goods and services dramatically increase within a short time, prioritizing spending and savings becomes even more critical to everyday life.
One way to cut costs is by carefully maintaining the things you own to ensure they last as long as possible. Starting with your greatest assets, like your car, you can identify ways to help prolong its lifespan while keeping ownership costs down. Let’s look at a few tips to help protect your investment and save money despite costlier living expenses.
Evaluate Driving Habits & Make Changes
More than ever, motorists are experiencing high driving costs. Simply transporting kids to school or commuting to and from work drains your gas tank and results in paying hundreds of dollars on gas each week. Hence, understanding ways to limit the miles you drive and evaluating how you drive becomes even more critical. But how do you cut back on miles, reduce fuel costs, and limit wear and tear? Consider making a few simple changes in your driving routine, like:
- Practicing Defensive Driving
Being aware of your surroundings is critical when you’re on the road. Unfortunately, the distraction of world events can carry over inside the car, instigating mindlessness and prompting unsafe driving practices. Pay attention to other motorists around you, keeping a safe distance between those driving poorly. In addition, do not engage with a road-raging driver, and always maintain safe driving practices to avoid potential collisions. Also, watch for potholes or other road hazards that could cause tire damage and additional wear and tear on your car.
- Idling No More
Although no one enjoys leaving the comfort of their home to sit in a cold car, technological advancements have reversed the need to warm your engine beforehand. In fact, starting your car to warm it long before you leave your driveway only wastes fuel and money. So instead of using your car’s starter to heat the interior before leaving your house, avoid this vehicle maintenance myth and get in and drive. Your vehicle will warm up faster, and you won’t waste fuel or gas money.
- Exploring Remote Work Opportunities
During the pandemic, several businesses altered their work practices so employees could perform their jobs from home. If your finances are tight because of inflation and you worked from home during the pandemic, perhaps it is time to reexamine the convenience and discuss your financial concerns with your employer.
Ask about work-from-home opportunities and if it’s possible to perform duties remotely, even if it’s just a day or two a week. Simple changes in your driving routine could reduce mileage and gas spending and minimize wear and tear, especially if you travel far to work.
- Starting a Carpool
If your child has classmates who live nearby, talk to their parents and see if there’s interest in sharing driving responsibilities. One option would be splitting drop-offs and pickups. For instance, you could carpool kids to school in the morning while the other parent brings them home. This would help cut your mileage in half and save on gas.
Prioritize Routine Maintenance
Completing preventative car maintenance becomes even more imperative when your goal is to save money on car expenses and prolong your car’s life. By staying up-to-date on regular upkeep, you can help prevent even costlier repairs in the future.
But what are some of the most common recommended maintenance items? According to the guidelines listed in your owner’s manual, several types of services your vehicle may need at various milestones can include:
- Tire rotations: Regular tire rotation can help extend the life of your tires and prevent uneven tread wear, bald spots, flats, and blowouts. In addition, a periodic tire inspection can alert your mechanic to any wheel mechanism issues involving brakes or steering. Most manufacturers advise rotating tires every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
- Oil changes: Periodic oil changes can prevent motor damage by helping lubricate your engine’s moving parts. The lubrication eases stress on the engine and extends its lifespan by causing less wear and tear. Routine oil changes also improve your fuel economy, saving you money on gas.
- Air filter replacements: Your car’s engine air filter catches dirt and debris that enters the vehicle through the air intake. But when the filter overloads with gunk, engine performance and fuel economy decrease, and several issues with the ignition or misfiring can occur. Some recommendations suggest changing the air filter every 12,000-15,000 miles. However, RepairPal notes changing the filter around the 40,000-mile mark. Since every car is different, check your owner’s manual for an exact timeframe.
Budget for Repairs with a Car Warranty
No one can fully predict when a car component will fail. Unfortunately, breakdowns often occur when you least expect them. And sometimes, they happen when you don’t have the cash saved up to pay the auto repair shop to fix it. But the last thing you want to do is ignore them. The longer you put off a car problem, the more extensive—and expensive—the issue can become.
So, as the cost of living continues to rise, including car prices and their part replacements, a vehicle service contract investment becomes even more valuable. In the long run, it can be one of the best ways to save on expensive repairs, like the engine, transmission, and head gasket, and extend the life of your car moving forward.
Some of the most reliable providers offer comprehensive packages with affordable payment plans and deductibles, 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car benefits, and the freedom to choose your own certified mechanic. With a solid plan, you can rest easy knowing you are covered during a mechanical failure, despite rising costs across the board. Discover the best vehicle warranty program for your budget and circumstances by checking out our in-depth provider reviews here.