Cars 201 | Tips to Save Money on Car Expenses as College Students
Most college students try to minimize their spending as much as possible during their years in school. Full-time work is nearly impossible, and between taking on debt to pay for school and trying to pay bills with money left over from summer work and part-time jobs, there usually isn't a lot of money left over. One way college students can save money is by reducing their car expenses. In many cases, it's necessary to have a student car loan, making transportation a large expense during college years.
Here are some things you can do to save money on car expenses while in college:
Keep up with maintenance and repairs
When money is tight, it can be tempting to skip oil changes or drive on worn tires. These kinds of bad habits can lead to bigger repair bills, though. Remember, getting your car towed isn't just inconvenient. It can cost $100 just to move it a short distance. A blown tire, broken tie-rod, or poorly functioning engine needs more money to fix than recommended preventative maintenance.
Keeping your car running at peak condition means it will go further on less fuel, as well. Ask your mechanic what you can do to maximize fuel efficiency. They may recommend a new air filter or check your tires for proper inflation. Expensive repairs are usually the result of a failure to properly maintain your vehicle.
Shop around for the best rates on car insurance
Before you purchase a car, check out the local insurance rates. If you plan to get a loan to pay for your car, you'll need full coverage insurance. The vehicle you choose makes a big difference when it comes to how much you'll pay for insurance. Some of the least expensive cars to insure, on average, are the Honda Odyssey, Dodge Caravan, Ford Escape, and Chrysler Town & Country. Choose a newer Mercedes or Audi, and your rates may triple.
The Honda CR-V has some of the lowest historical insurance rates and it also gets great gas mileage. Other good choices include the Subaru Outback, Jeep Cherokee, and Chevy Equinox. High-end sports cars typically trigger a high insurance bill, while SUVs, sedans, and minivans cost the least amount of money to insure. And of course, the rate can vary a lot based on your personal information and driving records.
Rates from one company to the next vary wildly. Try to get quotes from an independent insurance agent. They work with many companies and can get you multiple quotes without the need to call a lot of different agents.
Watch out for sneaky expenses
Buying a car in college is convenient, but it also may cause some unexpected expenses. If you want to park on campus, you may have to purchase a parking pass or rent a space in a nearby parking ramp. Ask around to find the best scenario before you turn over hundreds of dollars for a reserved parking spot. Even if you need a car to get to work or run errands, you may be able to take public transportation to and from campus instead of driving.
Taking a driving class may be well worth your time if it saves you from getting in an accident or getting a ticket because you don't fully understand driving laws in the U.S. Parking tickets can add up fast, so pay attention to posted signage, especially handicapped designations and spots reserved as loading zones. Speed limits on and near campus are usually well-enforced, so pay attention to the signs to avoid a costly ticket.