Our family lives on a single income so as much as possible we try to find ways to cut expenses. One of the best cost cutting moves that we made is moving closer to where I work. This has really help us in a lot of ways such as saving money, improving health, spending more time with families and even helping the environment at the same time.
After housing expenses, the next biggest expense for most families is anything related to cars: car payment, insurance, maintenance and repairs, gasoline, etc. So obviously, this would be our next target.
Our plan is to not to purchase a car yet and keep the old one that we have. Our car has registered 255,500 miles already and is sixteen years old, not considered classic yet but it’s getting there. Because it is still in tip top shape, we are still able to use this car to travel within 100 miles. However, when we travel for a vacation, we usually just rent a car as it would be too risky especially if the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
How Sharing One Car Saves Us Money:
Fortunately for us, our car is already paid off so we do not have to worry about the monthly car payments. If we have to purchase another one, we may be talking around $200 to $500 per month for the next five years depending on what car we have to purchase. The bad thing about cars is that it depreciates so quickly and it feels like you are throwing your money away. Of course, cars are considered an investment especially if this is our main mode of transportation to get to work. I figured that we can save the money that we would have paid on another car and invest it.
If our car has quite an equity on it or we are still making payments, we would have been forced to purchase the full coverage. With our current car being so old, it is almost worthless thus the liability coverage is enough. The insurance could have been an additional $50 to $100 per month. Again, instead of throwing money on insurance for another car, we ended up saving it.
How We Kept The Car Running Forever:
Buying a Known Dependable Car To Start With
I think when purchasing cars, one has to consider the brand known to last longer. Not all cars are built the same way and some brands tend to have so many mechanical breakdowns even after taking good care of them. My current car is a Toyota Camry and I bought this brand new sixteen years ago.
I had a bad experience with my first car, a 1985 Dodge Conquest, since I bought the car used. What attracted me to this car was it was a sports car (chick magnet), it looks fairly new (six years old), and I thought that it was a good deal. I bought this from a private owner for $3,000 and it had only 65,000 miles on it. Back then, I was young and new to this country so I really did not know anything about cars. With this car, I think I may had bought a lemon since the engine gave in after only three months of used. My mechanic once told me that Mitsubishi engines are really good but the parts are really expensive when come repair time. After making so many trips to the shop, I was advised by my mechanic to sell the car and purchase either a Toyota or a Honda since they tend to last long. I opted for the Toyota.
Keeping Up With the Maintenance Schedule
I bought the car brand new and have been following the maintenance schedule consistently. The key to the longevity of my car are good maintenance such as:
- Oil Change – I made sure that I change oil every 3,000 miles. I usually have this done not to my mechanic but outside where I can also get a free car wash. I can do it by myself but the apartment where I live in does not allow us to do anything about cars. Besides, I figure it is not that much different when I have it done outside. I usually pay $24.95 and this includes the oil, filter, and the car wash.
- Following a Tune Up Service Schedule – Tune up every 30,000 miles has really help prolong the car engine’s life. Belts are also replaced every 60,000 miles. Of course, some parts would break down due to wear and tear but at least it is not due to reckless or deferred maintenance. For examples, I would be spending money because the tires are bald, breaks are squeaking, radiator is old, etc.
Finding A Good Mechanic
Having a good and trusted mechanic is the key to keeping up with the schedule. Fortunately, I found one that I can trust and I have been going to his shop for 18 years now. I used to dread going to the mechanic for fear of getting ripped-off so I ended up jumping from one mechanic to another. It seems that some mechanic were not really fixing the problem, not replacing the part or the parts were really inferior, and for the most part, I felt that the more I take it to the mechanic, the more problems happens afterwards. With the this trusted mechanic, he advised me to get rid of my junkie car before I go broke. My previous mechanic seemed to be milking it instead of advising clients those things.
When your car is brand new, chances are that you will be going to the dealer for scheduled maintenance. I found this as a big rip-off since the dealership charges an arm and a leg. At one time, they quoted me $1,000 for repairs and various recommendations. I took the car my mechanic and I only spent $400 with him. Please keep in mind that he is using original Toyota parts as well.
What about you? Do you have any other tips on how you can save money with your car?