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5 Ways to Waste Money on Your Car

When the rubber hits the road, it doesn’t take long to learn that owning a car can get expensive fast. Whether you love to drive or can’t imagine life without your shiny set of wheels, it pays to take a detour around these five ways to waste money on your car.

1. Buying a new car:

Driving that new car off the lot can cost you “20 percent of its value,” says popular car site Edmunds. Because cars depreciate quickly when first sold, spending your hard-earned money for that new car smell can cost you thousands in the first year of ownership alone.

For example, the Edmunds True Cost to Own Calculator estimates the depreciation on many new makes and models. I plugged in the numbers for a 2010 Toyota Matrix (with a price of $19,296) and found it depreciates a stunning $4,260 in the first year of ownership, $1,452 in the second year, and another $1,278 in the third. That’s over a third of the car’s initial value depreciating in three years.

Passing on paying the big bucks for a new vehicle and opting to buy a used car can save you big. Since that same Toyota Matrix only depreciates $1,133 in the fourth year of ownership, it makes good driving sense to let the initial owner absorb the cost and for you to drive away with less depreciation and more of a deal.

2. Putting the pedal to the metal:

If you drive with a lead foot, chances are your need for speed is costing you dearly. All cars have a sweet spot at which they perform at optimal fuel efficiency, and while this spot can vary from vehicle to vehicle, I guarantee it’s not at 110km/h.

City drivers may have the most to gain by slowing down since the majority of fuel is consumed by repeated acceleration. The constant speeding up and slowing down during city jaunts is the reason city cars have inferior gas mileage to highway cruisers. To save in town, accelerate gently from each stop and decelerate slowly by looking ahead and spying red lights. See 10 Ways to Save Money on Gas for more tips to help you visit the pump less often.

3. Getting the dealership to do oil changes:

It’s possible to get a great price on dealer oil changes, but chances are you can find a better deal off the lot. Don’t be afraid to call for quotes and compare prices before driving off with a new filter. And ladies, don’t be afraid to speak up and decline that new set of wipers, that fancy filter, or that expensive synthetic oil unless your car needs this stuff to run smoothly. I once gave in and bought these added features since I was too shy to say “no thanks”. When in doubt, crack open your car’s manual to see what your engine needs to operate.

4. Paying for premium gas:

Why are you treating your car with premium gasoline when it only requires regular fuel to run? Stick to the cheapest gasoline recommended for your engine, and save the treat for your TFSA, RRSP, or your child’s RESP — you’ll get more mileage by fueling your savings.

5. Driving with deflated tires:

Are your tires under pressure? If you’re driving around town even a little deflated, you’re burning extra fuel, wearing out your treads, and risking a flat. Investing in a $5 tire pressure gauge and checking each tire at least once a month could save you hundreds of dollars in just one year. Now that’s my kind of inflation!