Quirky ways to save money on your car

I am sure you have heard all the “usual” ways to save money on your car.  Lets’ breeze through them quickly to refresh your memory…

  • Shop around before buying.
  • Buy a smaller car.
  • Check insurance costs before deciding what to buy.
  • Shop around for insurance.
  • Pay cash rather than a car loan.
  • Drive slowly to conserve gas.
  • Keep your car well-maintained.
  • Keep the trunk empty to save gas.
  • Keep tires inflated.
  • Don’t idle.
  • Car pool.
  • Combine errands.

Did I miss any?  Probably a few.  All great advice, of course.  But these “usual” ways to save money on your vehicle are fairly > yawn < boring.  How about some fresh, quirky, exciting ways to save big bucks on your vehicle or with your vehicle?

Let’s start with something tame.  Turn the air conditioning on at high speeds.  Why?  Because the wind drag gets more as your speed gets higher.  And wind drag can really eat up fuel.  So on the highway, keep the windows closed and the air conditioning on.

But in the city, roll down the windows and turn off the air conditioning.  Why?  Air conditioning does use up energy, and lowered windows do not use up energy at low speeds.

So you can save money at high speeds one way, and save money at low speeds another way.

OK, ready for something just a little more quirky?

Don’t buy a red car.  Yes, police officers are racist when it comes to cars – even if they don’t think they are.  Research has shown that police are more likely to give a speeding ticket to the driver of a red car than to drivers of other cars going the same speed.  No – wait!  It turns out police like red cars; they hate grey cars.  It’s all psychological of course – all except the ticket you have to pay.

Walk.  Or bike.  Or skateboard.  OK, that’s not too quirky, but keep in mind that if you walk most places or take the bus and you own a car, you should drive it at least once a week.  That keeps all the moving parts under the hood well-lubricated.  Sometimes when you don’t drive a car for a few weeks, things stick.  Sometimes very badly.  Sometimes costing a lot.

But wait!   A car is a costly beast to maintain.  If you typically don’t drive it more than once every two weeks, maybe you could save money by joining a car-sharing program or even just renting a vehicle when you want to travel outside of your usual haunts.

Here is one that is a little off the wall and surely not one that we can recommend.  Call in sick more often.  Every time you stay home instead of driving to work, you save on gas, wear-and-tear and mileage on your vehicle.  If you call in sick an extra five times a year, you could save a few hundred dollars. A job is supposed to earn you money, but in fact you lose money by going in to work when you could stay home with the Activated Recessive Influenza (or whatever disease you invent).

OK, last one.  Live in your car.  This is, of course, pretty extreme.  But what about just temporarily, using your car as a hotel?  Friends of mine actually did this.  They travelled to Costa Rica and instead of having to search for a place to stay each night, they rented an SUV that could accommodate them at night.  They paid less for the car rental than they would have paid for a combined smaller car rental and accommodations, plus they spent more time enjoying the countryside and less time arranging accommodations.

All it takes to save money on your car is some discipline and the willpower to be quirky.  Do you have what it takes?