The other day, I happened to be driving by a local university and I saw a unique parking space with this sign:
It caught my eye, and I found myself immediately curious about what a zipcar was. So, I made a mental note and googled them when I got home.
As it turns out, this is a company that’s been around for a couple of years. It’s essentially an online, low cost car rental service. They have cars all over that park in these designated spots and people can log onto their site and rent the cars for as low as $8 an hour. (NOTE: I have no affiliation with zipcar. It just seems like a cool service.)
The cool thing (besides the low cost) is that this is an awesome business model that’s made possible only by modern technology, namely the internet. If this company had to operate like a normal car rental agency with a brick and mortar store front, they couldn’t possibly rent cars in such short increments and at such a low cost.
The zipcar model allows people to find a zipcar parked near their location and reserve it through their iphone app. Then they just go to where the car is parked, and they can unlock it with a special zipcar keycard and go. They just return the car back to the spot when they are done and lock up. The car is then ready for the next renter.
It’s also a perfect way that technology is helping people save on car expenses. For a student or someone living in a large metropolitan area, you can consider forgoing a car purchase and simply use a service such as zipcar.
It got me thinking that’s just one of the many ways that modern technology is helping us save on vehicle expenses.
These days our cars are running more efficiently. We are able to go farther on a single tank of gas, wait longer between oil changes, use alternative fuel vehicles, and even give up owning a car for a low cost rental solution such as zipcar.
If you own a car, you already know that it’s expensive. I am a heavy commuter, so I spend around $500 a month on gas alone. Then with maintenance costs, owning a car gets even more expensive.
So, I’ve researched several ways to save money on vehicle expenses. Here are some tips that I would suggest to save on car expenses:
Keep Your Cars Longer
Since I was growing up, my family has always owned cars for the long term. We’ve had cars for 20 years. With proper maintenance a car can run for a very long time. In the long run, it will save a lot more money than buying a new car every few years.
Don’t Change Your Oil Every 3,000 miles
I know that’s the common advice, but these days modern cars don’t need it. Take a look at your car manual. My car only needs an oil change every 5000 miles. That’s almost twice as long. That adds up to a lot of money over the years.
Do regular maintenance
This may seem like contrary advice, considering I’m telling you not to get an oil change every 3000 miles. However, regular maintenance will keep your car running longer as well as keep your gas mileage up.
The short term costs of regular maintenance will really save you a lot of money in the long run.
Consider buying a hybrid vehicle
Gas is expensive. I don’t own a hybrid, but if I had it to do over again, I probably would have bought a hybrid vehicle. Much of your savings depends on your driving pattern and the price of gas. However, with gas prices on the rise, you’re more likely to save money by buying a hybrid vehicle.
While hybrid cars are more expensive than regular cars, it’s easy to calculate your savings. Just take the difference in price vs. the amount you save in gas over time. You can quickly figure out how long it would take to recoup the difference in price.
Check out Peer to Peer Car Rentals
With a little bit of research, I discovered a company that provides peer to peer car rental services called getaround.com. (No affiliation)
This is a company that allows car owners to rent out their cars for short increments much like zipcar. However, the difference is that the owner of the car can set the price for the rental and they share in the profits of the rental income.
So, if you own a car, you can use peer to peer rental to earn some income from your car!
Just think, you’re parked at the office for 8 hours. Maybe you could rent out your car for 3-4 hours while you’re at work and earn some extra money. Brilliant!
Consider Not Owning a Car at All
Of course, this article started with my discovery of zipcar. Now we’ve come full circle. If you live in an area where there is a service such as zipcar or you have reliable public transportation, then you can even consider not owning a car at all. If you don’t need a car to get around, you can save a ton of money simply by using public transportation or a car rental service on occasion.
I find it interesting to discover ways that technology is helping us save money that we don’t even foresee. We often think of direct ways, such as new fuel technology, that helps us save with our vehicles. However, there are many more imaginative ways to use current technology to help us save.