13 Ways You Waste Money on Your Car

CBS Money Watch has a fun article on 10 ways to waste money on your car.  This article has all the usual tips, for example: “Don’t buy higher octane fuel than your car needs” and “There is no need to change your oil every 3,000 miles.  Most of these tips are good and if you are new to being frugal, you should definitely check them out.  However, I personally don’t agree with all the tips.  For example:

9. Buying expensive performance tires.

For the average driver, this is probably true, but it really depends on the type of car you drive and how you drive it.  It also depends on what you mean by “performance”.  For example, many modern cars require run flat tires.  Some cars require “performance” tires to maintain stability at highway speeds and in cornering.  So, I would say this tip is fine, as long as you get tires that are at least as good as the OEM or factory recommended specifications.

The second tip I disagree with is Tip #10:

10. Paying for built-in navigation.

Yes, the average built-in navigation system will set you back and additional $1500 to $4000.  However, what the author forgets is that in many cars the “navigation options” is actually the “computer controlled everything option”.  Many cars now integrate the radio, alarm, climate control, system monitoring, Bluetooth phone support, reverse camera / sensor and much more into their “navigation system”.  So it is important that you compare apples-to-apples when following this tip.  The $200 TomTom VIA 1505TM 5-Inch Portable GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps will give you great navigation, but it won’t tell you what song you are listening to or if something is behind you when you are backing up.

Finally, while probably good advice, Tip #3 in the article is pretty inaccurate:

3. Failing to change your air filter. “If you have not changed your air filter by about 40,000 miles, it is probably clogged and hurting your gas mileage,” says George Sadowski. That MPG penalty could be as much as 10% to 15%, he estimates. So if your mechanic recommends a fresh filter after about 25,000 miles, say yes.

The EPA released a study back in 2009 saying that in modern cars, with computer controlled fuel injection, the air filter only benefits acceleration and has no benefit on MPG.  However, for older cars with carburetors, there is a benefit as noted:

Tests suggest that replacing a clogged air filter on an older car with a carbureted engine may improve fuel economy 2 to 6 percent under normal replacement conditions or up to 14 percent if the filter is so clogged that it significantly affects drivability.


To replace these two tips, I will give you few quick tips of my own on how to stop wasting money on your car:

  • Make sure your tire pressure is correct – This is probably one the simplest and cheapest ways to save gas and increase tire longevity.
  • Skip the vanity plate – The extra $50+ is probably better in a savings account or paying off debt.
  • Don’t over insure your vehicle – Make sure you are not paying for more insurance than you need.  If you have an emergency fund, raise your auto insurance deductible and get rid of the rental car reimbursement insurance.  These quick changes could save you a few hundred a year.

10 Ways You Waste Money on Your Car | CBS Money Watch


Photo Credit: Stig Nygaard

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