Automobile

How to Switch to Paying Cash for Your Car

In 2003, I purchased a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup. Given the financial disaster that my life was at the tiem, I “paid” for it entirely with a loan, which saddled me with car payments for the next three-plus years. In 2010, the Ford F-150 needed to be replaced, so we bought a 2004 Honda Pilot. …

Are Ethanol Fuels a Bargain?

Ethanol Added and Premium Fuels Are a Questionable Bargain Over the last year, I’ve been keeping careful track of the fuel efficiency of my 2004 Honda Pilot. You know the vehicle – it’s the one I bought off of Craigslist a few years back. My driving in the vehicle is an almost equal mix of …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

Should I Lease or Buy a Car? 3 Situations Where Leasing Makes Sense

In general, I’m pretty strongly opposed to the idea of leasing a car. In most situations, a car lease is a long-term financial mistake. Compared to a cycle of buying late model used cars and driving them to their replacement point, auto leasing is very expensive. Still, there are exceptions to every situation. A recent …

Categories: Automobile

Road Trip Tips: Keys to a Cheap Summer Adventure

This summer, my family is going on a very long road trip to multiple national parks, a stop at Disneyworld, visits with relatives, and many little side trips and journeys along the way. We are going to see large parts of the United States and do it all in an automobile. No matter how we …

The Problem with “Driving It Into the Ground”

I subscribe to the philosophy of driving a car into the ground before you replace it. I’m thirty five years old and over the course of my entire life (since I was sixteen), I’ve been the primary driver of only three automobiles – and the third one is going to last several more years. With …

Categories: Automobile

Looking Ahead at Automotive Decisions

Every once in a while, it’s useful to look at the state of the automobiles that your family owns and ask some hard questions about upcoming costs, both in terms of repair and eventual replacement. I thought I’d walk through these questions as they relate to our own cars to provide some ideas of what …

Categories: Automobile

Is Premium Gas Worth It?

You’re standing at the gas pump. There are multiple fuel types available – a low-cost type that’s marked with an 87 octane rating that also has 10% ethanol, a medium priced gas that’s 87 but more expensive than the ethanol gas, and a premium fuel that has a 91 octane rating. (Note that you may …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

Car Insurance: Liability or Comprehensive Coverage?

When you’re shopping for car insurance – something that’s a legal requirement in most areas when you own a car – one of the biggest questions that comes your way is whether or not you should have liability coverage or comprehensive coverage on your automobile. Liability coverage is usually cheaper, but comprehensive coverage covers more. …

Categories: Automobile, Insurance

Do Your Own Car Maintenance, Save Hundreds Per Year

Many people settle into a route of convenience when it comes to the maintenance on their automobile. They take their car to the dealer or to a car servicing business every 5,000 miles or so, generally following their manufacturer’s recommendation, and they just pay that business to take care of car maintenance for them. Here’s …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

The Teenager’s Car Conundrum

Sometimes, I get questions that are perfect for the Reader Mailbag, except that when I actually start writing out the answer, it turns into a full post. This is one of those times. Leslie writes in: My daughter is turning sixteen this August. We’re going to buy her a used car as a gift, but …

Comparing Costs Between New and Used Cars

The best way to maximize your value from a car, regardless of when you buy it, is to drive it until the problems become overwhelming, then trade it in for whatever value you can get out of it. I consider that the first rule of frugal car buying. The tough question is whether or not …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

What Is Fuel Efficiency Really Worth?

A few days ago, I posted an article on saving money on fuel during your commute. While all of those tips were useful, one in particular can really reduce your fuel costs when commuting – buying a more fuel-efficient car. But what does that really mean in terms of dollars and cents? Before you even …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

14 Ways to Save Money on Your Commuting Fuel Costs Without Giving Up Your Car

Whenever I see advice on saving money on commuting fuel costs, the suggestions often revolve around completely giving up your car. I’m as guilty of that as anyone else. It’s a great way to drastically trim your finances. Let’s be honest, though: a lot of people simply aren’t going to give up their car. They …

Categories: Automobile, Frugality

Car Insurance: Value Beyond Merely “Insuring” You

There’s already a ton of great information from Jeff in The Simple Dollar’s guide about shopping around for auto insurance – how to choose it and how to optimize it. Rather than just rehashing my own experiences with auto insurance, I wanted to look at it from a different angle. Obviously, my choices helped define …

Categories: Automobile, Insurance

Putting a Value on Reliability: When Is It Time to Trade In Your Car?

A friend of mine has been driving the same car for more than a decade. For most of that time, it’s been reliable as a rock. It’s started like a charm on some frightfully cold mornings and it’s only rarely needed any repairs. Over the last year, though, lots of little problems have started cropping …

Categories: Automobile

Six Reasons Why I Don’t Want a Luxury Car – Ever

A while back, I read a “wonderful” article over at Forbes entitled “Ten Reasons to Buy a Luxury Car.” Such important factors as “prestige” and “horses under the hood” were bandied about. Personally, I didn’t really find any of the reasons to be compelling ones for buying a luxury car. Instead, here are six reasons …

Categories: Automobile

Is Renting a Car Cheaper for a Long Road Trip?

Monica wrote in with a question that I thought deserved a detailed answer. I’m going to be driving from northern Minnesota to Dallas, Texas for a week this summer, then returning home. I own a 2008 Toyota Corolla with 34,000 miles on it. I’m trying to figure out if it’s more cost effective to rent …

Some Thoughts on Higher Gas Prices

I’m lucky. I don’t commute to work, unless you consider a stroll across the house to be a commute. I don’t put daily miles on a vehicle, though I do need to travel to the library and the post office for different work-related tasks. My wife, Sarah, does commute to work, though. She drives about …

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Going Below Speed Limit

Saving Pennies or Dollars is a new semi-regular series on The Simple Dollar, inspired by a great discussion on The Simple Dollar’s Facebook page concerning frugal tactics that might not really save that much money. I’m going to take some of the scenarios described by the readers there and try to break down the numbers …