Buying a car is expensive. Really expensive. In fact, your car payment is most likely only exceeded by your rent or mortgage payment. And that’s not to mention the cost of gas, maintenance, insurance and all of the other things that go hand-in-hand with automobile ownership.
But with new technologies and car sharing options available, there are now new, inventive ways you could save some dollars (or even make money) to help ease your monthly burden.
Save on Repair Costs
To better understand the inner workings of your car, the latest apps (like OBD Auto Doctor, Dash, or Automatic) analyze driving performance and provide statistics and insights. By syncing up with your vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) System, these apps can help discover problems with your ride — like when the ominous “check engine” light pops on — and deliver real-time data.
If something goes awry, rather than showing up at a repair shop uninformed, you can share your exact data with a technician. This might save them time diagnosing an issue while giving you confidence that you’re not being swindled for “other” repairs. Knowledge is power.
For vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, setup is pretty seamless, but older vehicles may require installation of a small, low-cost adapter. This adapter plugs into the port of just about any vehicle to release your car’s data.
Save on Gas Money
On average, Americans drop between $1,000 and $3,000 on gas each year. Finding the lowest price in your neighborhood used to feel like winning the lottery. But now, there are several apps that will scan your surroundings and locate the cheapest fuel in real time.
This technology is driven by users who update the app’s database as prices fall. Users are located across the U.S. and Canada, so it’s ideal for both local travel and road trips. Make your gas money go further with Fuelcaster® from Esurance, which tells you if gas prices in your neighborhood are expected to rise or fall tomorrow.
Owning a car used to be a symbol of freedom. But as more and more young people migrate to bigger cities with less parking, more traffic and better public transportation, car ownership is starting to seem less appealing. For city dwellers with wheels to spare, a new model of ownership has evolved — peer-to-peer carsharing.
Carsharing allows owners to lend out their cars for a short period of time, usually by the hour or day. So how does it work? Borrowers simply use the app to find the nearest vehicle (or perhaps a specific type of car, like a little red convertible). Scan your membership card over the windshield. The keys will already be inside and boom — you’re ready for takeoff. According to data from the Transportation Sustainability Research Center, around 900,000 Americans are already using these kinds of carsharing services.
Sharing your wheels can be an effective way to earn some extra dough when your vehicle’s not in use. Rates are determined by minutes, hours, days and/or miles. However, you run the risk of letting a stranger cruise around in your ride as they put miles on it. Do your research and decide for yourself if carsharing sounds like a viable option. Check out popular apps like Getaround or Turo.
As technology and driving continue to evolve, the way people get from point A to point B has dramatically changed. Before smartphones, having a complete stranger pick you up and drive you around in their vehicle seemed insane. But with the explosion in popularity of ridesharing apps, this has become an everyday occurrence (perhaps even more common than hailing a taxi). In fact, consulting firm McKinsey predicts that by 2030, approximately 10 percent of vehicles sold will be shared vehicles.
This relatively fresh concept is popular for many reasons, but the biggest? Flexibility. Ridesharing gives car owners control — with the ability to drive when they want and make trips in their neighborhood or wherever they’d like. If you love driving and want to make some extra cash, check out ridesharing as an option for boosting your monthly budget.
Taking advantage of the latest smartphone technology can help you save big on your car expenses. And if you’re open to carsharing, you could potentially earn some extra cash. One thing is certain – as technology and sharing continues to evolve, so will the new, innovative ways you can help lower your car payment.
Haden Kirkpatrick is the director of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance, where he is responsible for all initiatives related to product and service innovation. He is constantly thinking about how emerging technology will impact the insurance industry. In his spare time, Hayden is an aspiring yogi and mixed martial artist.