June 7, 2023

Finance Tips for First-Time Car Owners

Owning a car comes with the benefits of convenience and mobility, but it can be an expensive investment. While a previous article on ‘How to Finance a Car’ already explained loan payments and interest rates, the financial costs do not simply end with the car purchase. From fuel consumption to toll fees, the expenses can still take up a large portion of your budget.

If you’re a first-time car owner, you can avoid spending too much through these finance tips.

Stay on top of maintenance

In the same way that you would get regular checkups to ensure your health and well-being, maintenance checks are essential to the performance and longevity of your vehicle. The Balance explains that routine car maintenance is critical for ensuring road safety and avoiding exorbitant costs from unwanted vehicle problems. Unless you have experience working with an automotive, it’s best to get a professional mechanic to conduct the maintenance check as they can detect issues that may otherwise not be visible to you.

The maintenance schedule depends on your location, frequency of driving, and recommendations from your car’s manufacturer, but the basics of car maintenance include regular tune-ups to improve fuel efficiency; oil changes to maintain engine lubrication; and replacement of headlights, windshield wipers, and car battery as these tend to wear out over time.

Invest in auto repair insurance

Despite regular maintenance checks, the risk of car failure cannot be completely eliminated. A feature on auto repair insurance by Sound Dollar outlines that this is a special type of insurance product that covers your car’s major repairs from mechanical breakdowns. While car insurance is already required by law across countries like Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., auto repair insurance can serve as an additional layer of protection from possible defects in the engine, electrical systems, cooling systems, and transmission.

Auto repair insurance is different from extended warranties as you’ll have to pay a deductible each time you make a claim. The exact premium and coverage will depend on vehicle age and mileage so the insurance company can assess the likelihood of your car breaking down. This means that newer cars are generally more eligible for auto repair insurance than older vehicles.

Practice fuel-efficient driving techniques

Since it’s impossible to opt-out of spending money on gas, the least you can do is practice fuel-efficient driving techniques in order to maximize your gas mileage. Always accelerate gently and watch the traffic ahead of you so you can avoid the speed dips and bursts that end up using more fuel. When you’re in a traffic jam, you can also conserve fuel by coasting to decelerate rather than slamming on the brakes and thus wasting your forward momentum.

Keep tires at the right pressure

Tire pressure is also an important factor in your tires’ longevity and your car’s overall safety. Since tires are costly to repair or replace, Reader’s Digest suggests extending your tires’ lifespan by avoiding over-inflated tires. Follow the inflation pressure listed on your car, as tire pressure depends on the weight of the vehicle and not the tire brand.

When tire pressure is too high, you wear down the tire tread and also put your tires at risk of popping or bursting. Driving with over-inflated tires is also uncomfortable as you’ll likely feel every bump on the road. The same article recommends checking your tire pressure every month, but other professionals explain that tire pressure can change a lot more often during extreme weather, thereby requiring frequent monitoring.

Remember to always refer to your car manual for more information on your car’s troubleshooting system and maintenance checklist. By driving safely and responsibly, you prevent accidents from happening and also ensure that your investment lasts for years to come.

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