One of the most enduring costs in my lie has been that to drive. Whether it’s gasoline, tires or the occasional ticket for speeding it’s all been chipping away at my savings, dollar by dollar, year after year, mile after mile.
But I love to drive.
Anytime, almost anywhere – open highways to back mountain roads to the occasional track day and amateur race event – it almost doesn’t matter.
Below are some of the tricks I’ve learned DIY to keeping it less costly (and more fun).
When you drive 800 miles a week on average the first thing that adds up is car washes, every week I need one or my car starts to look like an extra for Mad Max. My saving grace? Biannual full details.
Getting your car properly detailed can not only make it look hella fly, but actually protects the paint and interior and in some cases can make it look better than new, when it was delivered covered in delivery truck brake dust and road bits (read iron oxide aka rust). It also makes it much easier to clean when the paint is properly buffed and waxed for the rest of the year.
The rest of the year when I go to a car wash once a month and the coin wash with California Duster in between and resist the urge to buy new (read: way more expensive) cars.
The next main thing is the tires.
Tires are how you brake, stop, turn, go and burn through tons of cash if you are not careful.
First things first is the pressure, make sure it’s correct. This is as simple as opening up the door of most vehicles and following directions as to what air pressure is best for your vehicle (hint: it’s not often 32psi cold) My pilot has a cold air pressure of 36 and yes it makes a huge difference in not only the gas mileage but the ride quality to keep it check,
Second up is rotation, rotation, rotation. The more often you can rotate your tires, the better. They will last much longer, the alignment will be much better and any trouble spots relating to shocks, brakes or suspension components will likely jump out. All you need is a jack, jack stand and wheel lug nut wrench (likely all supplied with your car).
Third is of course an alignment.
Alignment keep the tires straight, with the best traction, ride quality, braking and general performance over the longest period possible. Best of all many places like Big-O tires and others offer lifetime alignment packages that equal just 2 trips, when you will probably need to go every 6 months if your honest, saving tins of cash in the process.
When it’s time to buy new tires I generally use Tire Rack online to shop and compare brands even price match local prices.
In the other post I mentioned using high quality gasoline, but it bears repeating. Shell 91 octane may cost more than the crap you use now, but it will give you the best performance, mileage and cleaning of any brand I’ve seen consistently. If you drive a post 1996 vehicle chances are higher octane will produce up to 10% better mileage, better yet save you an extra trip here and there (don’t forget those rewards points) I get up to 1 dollar a gallon off just by using Ralphs for groceries.
Gas Buddy is a great resource for finding the cheapest prices, as it seems like Google Maps pricing feature comes and goes at random these days 🙁
Engine oil is the sleeper mod that makes or breaks good mileage, performance and engine life. I use Mobile 1 (currently the 0w-20 full synthetic) and a Mobile 1 oil filter every 7500 miles. Combos for both can be found at Walmart and Autozone for 36.00 with a pan and gloves. Yes you can get it done with cheap oil at Jiffy Shit, until they forget to tighten your oil plug and blame you for the ensuing fire damage + shit oil that will cost you money in the first tank or two of gasoline after it.
It is important to get the right type of oil so stick with what your manufacture recommends, also I change my transmission fluid ever 15,000 miles which is 3x more than necessary, but wayyyy cheaper than transmission failure. Which I have yet to experience in 1 million miles in 26 different cars, trucks and motorcycles.
This might be the single biggest help to driving costs down that you have in your car. If you have a modern car with some form of MPG gauge, trying using it and driving with and without cruise control switched on – you will see a pretty big improvement in most cases unless you love hyper focusing on your right leg inputs for miles and miles….trust me it’s not fun.
There are many more things that can reduce costs and make driving more fun, like lowering your vehicle (properly) which can provide massive gains in highway mileage, make your vehicle handle and stop better too. Also small things like unbolting your windshield wipers during warm months and using a water repelling coating like Liquipel to eek out a few extra miles per tank.
This DIY on hypermiling as it’s known can provide insight into the rabbit hole and how far down it does when trying to save money driving.
Of just afford to drive more 🙂