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The Nitty Gritty

5 Money-Saving Driving Tips

When you’re purchasing a car, you put a lot of time and energy into finding the best deal for the vehicle you want. You research online, haggle with the salesperson, and walk out of the dealership if they can’t meet your price. While it’s important to get the best deal on your initial car purchase, most people waste what they saved during negotiations on poor driving habits. What you do with the five to 10 years that you own your car will have a much greater impact on your wallet.

Follow these money-saving driving tips from Ardent Credit Union Automotive Concierges Steve Roberts and Pete Kuryluk, as well as other automotive industry experts, and you’ll always have a reliable and affordable driving experience.

Tip 1: Check Your Tire Pressure Regularly
“Underinflated tires will hurt your fuel economy,” said Steve Roberts. “According to the U.S. Department of Energy, your fuel efficiency drops by 0.4 percent for every pound of pressure you’re under the optimal level.”
It’s not enough to check your tires once and then forget them for a while, since the average tire loses about two pounds of pressure every month. Check them at least once a month or every other time you fill up your gas tank, depending on your driving habits.

Tip 2: Avoid Aggressive Driving
“Fast acceleration, hard braking and high speeds all hurt your fuel efficiency and increase the wear and tear on your car, which results in higher maintenance bills,” said Pete Kuryluk. “You’ll save money if you drive a little slower and keep things nice and smooth.”

Most cars are designed to operate at top efficiency within the lower end of legal speed limits, which means your gas mileage will start to plummet above 50 miles per hour.

Tip 3: Aerodynamics Matter
It may seem counterintuitive, but fuel economy can be compromised by the drag created when driving with the windows rolled-down, especially at higher speeds.

“Cars are designed to be the most efficient with the windows up,” said Steve Roberts. “This means that typical warmer weather driving habits can cost a bundle in lost fuel efficiency.”

Tip 4: Consolidate Trips
“Running back and forth to drop off your kids and then go grocery shopping is inefficient and burns gas, especially since it’s likely city driving and not highway driving,” said Pete Kuryluk. “Instead, plan ahead so you can do everything in one trip to save on gas mileage.”

You can also use free apps, such as Gas Buddy, to find the cheapest gas on your route. However, don’t drive out of your way for a better price, since you’ll likely lose money on the trip there and back.

Tip 5: Keep Up on Maintenance
“The best way to save money on your car is to perform regular maintenance, either on your own or with a dealer or mechanic,” said Roberts. “While you may have to spend a little once in a while, it’s better than the catastrophic bill waiting for you if you ignore a problem.”

As a general rule, your car should be serviced at least every six months. A basic check-up should include your engine oil, filters, transmission fluids, timing belt, and anything else that the manufacturer recommends.

Learn more about our Auto Buying Concierge