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Car tips & advice | 17.06.2014 - 23:17

Car Costs: Where to Splurge and Where to Cut Corners

Are you spending your money wisely? Cut your car costs and know when to spend a little extra dough by following these recommendations.

Whether you’re a car lover or somebody who just wants something to get them from point A to point B, you should do your research before purchasing a car. Buying a car is probably the second biggest purchase—behind buying a home—you’ll make in your adult life. You want to make sure that you’re spending your money wisely. But spending wisely doesn’t mean throwing your money at a brand your grandfather always told you was reliable. Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out what’s worth spending your money on and what’s worth passing up when it comes to car related expenses.

Where to Splurge

1. Fuel Economy

If you’re trying to choose between two cars, go with the one that gets more miles per gallon, even if it’s more expensive. Your savings at the pump will make up the difference and you’ll get the added bonus of being a little gentler on the environment. Its win-win scenarios like these that make some people really love their cars, as you can see here.

2. A Good Set of Tires

Here’s a piece of economic wisdom: don’t buy cheap things that go between you and the ground. That means don’t be afraid to splurge on shoes, mattresses and yes, tires. Tires can be expensive, but a good set is worth their weight in gold, because they’re what keep you on the road. No matter how good of a car you have, if the tires have poor traction, wear easily or are prone to premature flats, you’re at risk of riding the bus for a while.

3. Automotive Club Membership

I’m not saying it’s worth splurging on an antique car club membership—though for some it might be. I’m talking about the value of a membership in an organization like AAA. Even if you’re confident in your ability to change a tire on a narrow shoulder of a four-lane highway in the middle of a snowstorm, it’s worth the cost of a membership to know you can have roadside assistance anywhere in the country.

Where to Save

1. Stock Sound System

If you really want a nice sound system for your new car, opt for the cheapest one at the dealership and find a replacement somewhere else for cheaper than the dealer’s upgraded version. Though not all factory-installed sound systems are bad values, the simple fact is that you’ll have a lot more options—meaning more possibilities for cheaper options—if you get a premium system installed elsewhere.

2. Navigation System

Though a navigation system in the dash may look nice, it’s still going to be way cheaper to buy a separate GPS that can easily mount on your windshield. You may even consider just using your smartphone as a GPS. Plus, if your navigation system breaks, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to replace something that isn’t installed in your dashboard.

3. High Intensity Headlights

Not only are these not worth the extra money for the driver—non-xenon or halogens work just fine—but they can also be a safety hazard for other drivers on the road. It really isn’t worth the extra money to drive around like you have your high beams on all the time and blind oncoming traffic.

These are just six situations where it pays to check out your options in order to get the best deal. Do you have any other ideas? Share them in the comments below!

Images: Barron Fujimoto | Evan Blaser

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