Owning a car is a fact of life for almost everyone in the United States. Unless you live in a big city with good public transportation, your life would be unmanageable without a car to ensure that you can get to work and take care of your day to day needs.

Unfortunately, cars come with their own set of unique and sometimes costly expenses. In addition to the price of fuel, your car needs maintenance and regular car to ensure that you get the most out of your vehicle purchase. Then there are the monthly payments if you took out a loan to purchase your car, and the insurance policies that must be maintained.

If you’d like to stretch your car expense dollar, consider some of these tips that might not only save you money, but may have just a little bit extra in your pocket at the end of the month.


New Versus Used Cars

New cars are attractive in that they are safe, reliable, and come with various types of warranty or regular maintenance service. New cars are designed to be as fuel efficient as possible which saves you money at the pump, as well. However, people typically need to take out a loan to purchase a new car, and that comes with interest and the requirement of full coverage insurance, both of which can be expensive.

Over the last ten years cars have been designed well and with regular maintenance they can rack up a few hundred thousand miles before they’re deemed unusable. Buying a used car that has been checked out by a mechanic can be a wise choice, but if repairs are needed the cost comes straight out your pocket.

Refinancing Your Car Loan

If you’ve elected to buy a new car and have taken out a loan to do so, it’s wise to keep an eye on the terms of your loan and refinance whenever possible. The interest paid on your car loan can add up to thousands of dollars over the life of the loan, so shaving some of those expenses off is always a good idea.

If you took out the loan through your personal bank make an appointment with their loan specialist to determine if and when refinancing is a possibility. A successful refinance at a competitive interest rate could save you $100 or more per month.

Gas Credit Cards

The company specific gas credit cards are generally a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean that you can use a credit card that saves you money on fuel. Most of the major credit companies offer some sort of rewards program that earns you cash at the pump.

Undoubtedly the best of these cards is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express. This card gives you 3 percent cash back on fuel pumped anywhere in the United States, at any time. You’ll also receive $150 as a statement credit if you spend $1,000 on the card in the first three months.

Hybrid Vehicles

Many people are on the fence when it comes to hybrid vehicles and their ability to save money on fuel. The fact is that a hybrid vehicle does use less fuel than a standard gasoline vehicle, but that savings doesn’t add up very quickly.

Generally speaking, hybrid vehicles cost about $3,000 more than their gas counterparts, and you’ll usually need to drive that hybrid for a minimum of 5 years to justify the fuel savings with the increased price. That being said, the various makes and models of hybrids have different fuel to price savings ratios, so if you’re really interested in owning a hybrid it’s best to shop around.

Also see: Car Insurance Money Saving Tips

Regular Maintenance

In order to extend the life of your car and save money down the road, regular maintenance is key. If your car is under warranty stick with the maintenance schedule the manufacturer suggests. If you’re driving an older model, find a trustworthy mechanic and listen to what he or she says.

If you don’t take care of your car it won’t take care of you.

Let’s face it, cars are expensive, but there are several ways that you can save money on the expenses required to own one. Decide if new or used is right for you, look into refinancing your loan, get a gas rewards credit card, maintain your car, and consider a hybrid. The results might mean a lot more money in your pocket.