How can you lower the costs of owning a vehicle?
Vehicle expenses can take a big bite out of your budget. According to a AAA report, the average annual total cost of owning and operating a new vehicle in 2018 was $8,849. Fortunately, you may be able to save money by reducing three costs.
Depreciation: The loss of a vehicle’s value over time was the largest expense associated with buying a vehicle, according to the AAA report. Depreciation accounts for almost 40% of the cost of owning a new vehicle — on average, $3,289. Some cars hold their value better than others, so it’s important to consider resale value before you buy. Because depreciation lessens over time, buying a used vehicle or keeping a vehicle longer can help minimize the impact of depreciation.
Insurance: The average annual cost of full-coverage auto insurance was $1,189. Premiums are based on many factors, including the vehicle make and model, and your location. Some vehicles may cost substantially more to insure because they are statistically more likely to be damaged in a crash, stolen, or have high repair costs. So when you’re in the market for a vehicle, find out how much the insurance will cost before you sign the paperwork.
You can often save money on your insurance premium if you’re willing to accept a higher deductible. You may also want to review your policy annually with your insurer to make sure you’re receiving all the discounts for which you are eligible, and have only the coverage you need.
Maintenance and repairs: With an average annual cost of $1,231, maintaining and repairing your vehicle is a big line item expense in your budget. So before you buy or lease a vehicle, talk to a trusted mechanic who is familiar with the cost of parts and general repair issues for the makes and models you’re considering, or look for reliability statistics online. Get written estimates before you have any repairs completed, and shop around.
Hourly labor rates and parts costs may vary widely. And keep up with regular maintenance. It can pay off in the long term, not only by preventing costly repairs but by potentially increasing your vehicle’s resale value.
Source: AAA Your Driving Costs, 2018 Edition. Average costs are based on driving 15,000 miles annually.
Is a vehicle subscription service in your future?
Automakers and start-up companies are betting that today’s generation of drivers will embrace a new model of temporary ownership called a vehicle subscription service.
A vehicle subscription service offers an alternative to buying or leasing. You don’t have to sign a long-term contract or commit to just one vehicle. Once you join, you typically pay an all-inclusive monthly or sometimes weekly fee that covers the cost of using the vehicle you choose, including insurance, routine maintenance, roadside assistance, and a warranty. You then have the option of swapping out your vehicle periodically, depending on the terms of your subscription.
For example, perhaps you’ve been temporarily transferred to a new city and want a fuel-efficient car for the six months you’re living there. Maybe you need a second car only during the summer when your child is home from college. Or you might want the flexibility to drive whichever vehicle suits your needs at the time — a luxury sedan for day-to-day driving, then a minivan for a family trip. If your needs change, you can return your vehicle and get another, or end your subscription. Plans vary, but many subscription services require only a short one- to two-month minimum commitment, with the option to renew. Subscription services are often app-based, making it easy to find and swap vehicles, and your newest ride may be delivered to you via a concierge service.
Of course, flexibility and convenience come at a cost, which is often substantial, so if you are interested in subscribing to your next vehicle you’ll need to carefully assess your options. Prices depend on the subscription service, the vehicle selected, and other factors such as mileage and extras. You may also be required to pay a sign-up fee.
Vehicle subscription services are evolving and are still not available everywhere. Many services are in the testing phase, and most have been launched primarily in major metropolitan markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, with a few offered in other cities. But vehicle subscription services are gaining traction, increasing the likelihood that they will someday be available in most areas.
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