How to save big money on vehicles (plus a huge giveaway from HomeRight)

(This is the first in a three-part series on how to save a TON of money on vehicles. Special thanks to HomeRight® for sponsoring this post and the amazing giveaway.)

Did you know that, statistically, we spend more on vehicles in our lifetime than we do on our homes? When I first heard this, I was floored. And then I got determined. I didn’t want the stuff in our driveway to suck our family dry of potential wealth or keep us from opportunities because we’re “car broke.”

So a few years ago, my husband and I committed to paying off our vehicles and only purchasing future ones with cash. We did it as part of Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step plan. It’s one of the best financial decisions we’ve made.

Suffice to say, I’m uber-passionate about debt-free living. And while you may not be there quite yet, there are some steps you can take today that will help you save big money on your vehicles, move you away from paycheck-to-paycheck living, and start you down the path of true financial freedom.

According to a recent Kiplinger article, the single most reliable way to save money on cars is to:

Keep your clunker and drive it until it drops.

A vehicle that’s decently cared-for should still be running long after the odometer has clocked 100,000 miles. (My 2005 model is at around 125,000 miles and going strong.) Keep driving it and you save money, not only because you don’t have to make payments on a new car, but also because insurance premiums are lower, and in some states, so are registration fees and personal-property taxes.

So then, if we’re committed to keeping the car we’ve got, the next step is to fall in love with her (again). I’ve got three strategies to help us do this.

1. Detail it like a pro.

I’m not talking about driving it through an over-priced (and under-thorough) car wash. I mean really clean it. I did this to my vehicle using some amazing tools from AutoRight™. (Spoiler alert: Giveaway at the end of this post.) 


I started with the outside, so I could gain some courage and momentum. (The interior was incredibly scary and daunting, people.) 

I put the littles to work helping me. They took turns using the AutoRight Auto-Wash Stick* and Easy-Wash Stick. You can suck up the soap/water right into the stick handles and push to release it onto the vehicle. I’ve found it to be a real time saver.



After a good scrub and rinse, I went to work on some mystery scratches (seriously, where do they come from?) using the AutoRight 4-inch Cordless Detailing Polisher.


I applied a scratch and swirl remover, then followed up with a coat of wax.


This machine works magic on scuff marks and small scratches and I love that it’s cordless. I figure deep scratches are pretty much a lost cause, but it did fade them slightly.

Then came the interior work. Whew! Hours, people … hours. This is what I started with:


Fortunately, I got to try out the AutoRight Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner, which made the process almost fun. Almost.


This sucker easily tackles those sticky window fingerprints, funky floor mats and the ground-in mystery grime.


This is what my vehicle looks like now:



It’s a rare and proud sight to behold and I’ll cherish it for the 10 minutes it looks like this. #blamethekids

In addition to giving your car a thorough detail job, consider the following tips to help you love the car you’re with.

2. Give up on keeping up with the Jones’.

Nothing gives me the craving to trade in my current car quite like smelling the fresh leather of a friend’s new ride. And even though I’m quite familiar with the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house” (or car or anything else), seeing others with a beautiful new vehicle really gets my brain cooking on what’s wrong with my “old” ride.

In these situations, I’ll take a few minutes to calculate exactly what the same new car would cost me over a lifetime of ownership. I include what it would cost me in lost opportunities, lost savings and lost financial goal achievement.

This usually makes that covetous feeling subside very quickly.

3. Keep your vehicle(s) well-maintained. 

In an article on “How to extend the life of your car,” Augie Barone, Service Manager at Pat’s Garage in San Francisco, credits regular maintenance as one of the most important ways to add years to your car’s life.

“The customers who have the most miles on their car are the ones who are consistent with their service schedule,” he says. “They get a hold of issues before they get out of hand. It helps a lot to maintain the car’s longevity. You can’t just wait for the service light to come on.”

Keeping your vehicle’s fluids new and clean is priority No. 1 when it comes to making sure your car hangs around for a long while. Frequent oil changes can prevent the buildup of harmful deposits that rob fuel economy and power, as well as make internal components work harder. A harder-working engine is one with a shorter life span.

So in summary, taking care of our vehicles – inside and out – and resisting that urge to keep up with the Jones’ will save us tens of thousands of dollars in automobile costs. Of course, sometimes, it’s simply time for our ride to give up the ghost … Stay tuned for the next article in this series, “How to save big money when buying a vehicle.”

In the meantime, be sure to enter below to win the ULTIMATE CAR CARE PACKAGE of amazing AutoRight goodies to help you fall in love (again) with your current ride.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Affiliate links provided in this post for your convenience. 

Disclaimer: I’m thrilled to be a brand ambassador for HomeRight and, as always, all thoughts, opinions and projects are my own. 

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103 Responses

  1. Melanie says:

    I love the space and luxury of my current car and it still has a lot of miles on it 🙂

  2. Sean says:

    Love that my ride is super comfy for long trips!

  3. Alina says:

    I love the radio system in my car. The hubby purchased a new one for me last year on my birthday. That way my kids and I can sing and dance every time we’re in there.

  4. Dee says:

    I love my 2008 “older vehicle” thanks for reminding me that keeping it and taking care of it is a good choice! would love this HomeRight car care kit!

  5. Dawn says:

    I love that my 2005 model has no payment, and gets great gas mileage.

  6. Melissa Johnson says:

    I love that my ride has great gas mileage and is a family friendly vehicle.

  7. Theresa says:

    Both are cars are paid for and have 125k miles on each. Keeping our cars in good running condition and looking good is ver important to us.

  8. Jill says:

    I love our Honda Odyssey perfect for towing two kids. 🙂

  9. Mel says:

    Love not having a car payment. I am still driving my 1999 Mercedes SUV. I’m often tempted to upgrade but with 4 kids including 1 in college we are thankful to not have a hefty payment.

  10. Donna Khoshaba says:

    A model year 2007 and still going strong.

  11. Jane M says:

    I am driving a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer with 150,000 miles on it that we purchased brand new. I, too decided to drive my vehicle until it no longer seems safe to do so. My replacement will probably be a used car with 15,000 to 20,000 miles on it. I always clean my own car and I would love to have these tools!

  12. Maureen Magner McCroskey says:

    I love that my hybrid saves me money at the gas station!

  13. Marsha Stevens says:

    I just purchased a new car to me 2012 Honda Civic and would love to keep it looking nice. I keep my cars for a real long time and could use those tools.

  14. Laurie says:

    I love that my car is still reliable! Looks great and is still comfy after 8 years! Lucky me but am going to knock on wood some where! Ha ha!

  15. I love my new car! It’s relatively new (less than 1 year old), so it’s still kind of clean! My kids used to eat in our old van when they were tots, and I had no time to clean, so the van was super dirty!

  16. Michelle says:

    Love my new Dodge Journey. As with most of our vehicles, we will probably drive it til it drops dead. It replaced a 2000 Toyota Tacoma with 186,000 miles that was still going strong until an accident totalled it. The Journey is a beautiful black when clean…but soooo hard to keep it that way. Would sure be nice (and even fun!) to use tools like that to clean it! Might even get the kids to do it 🙂

  17. gail calcutt says:

    Love your perspective. My husband and I have always practiced buy new and drive until it drops. This has always worked for us…so thankful for HIS wisdom!

  18. Ann says:

    I love my car because it is paid off!

  19. Mary Hall says:

    I love that my car is paid for and fits my needs just fine!

  20. beverly e says:

    I love everything about my 2002, 130K mile suv… especially that it’s paid for and is fun to drive!

  21. Sally says:

    Great post! Both our cars are paid off. It looks like you had some good helpers when you were washing your car, do they come with the other appliances? They are so cute.

  22. Carol Thomas says:

    Your car looks great after the detailing. My car is 9 years old and has 130,000 miles and is still going strong. I would love to have these detailing tools to keep it clean.

  23. Lori says:

    We have bought our cars after they are a couple of years old and saved a lot. The best thing is these cars will go well over 100,000 and they are paid for!

  24. Patty says:

    It always amazes me when I hear of someone going in debt for a 40 or 50K dollar car they can’t afford. My husband and I have two cars a pick up three motorcycles and a scooter all paid for, they are all kept in a garage and the best part is he does all the maintenance on them and washes all of them, I’m a lucky gal. The oldest one is a 1992 the newest one is the new Harley a 2015, we keep our autos a long time and if we should in the future have a big repair it is still cheaper than buying a new car. All our vehicles look new.
    Because we keep our cars so long we were able to pay extra money on the principle of our home loan and apply our tax return to the principle and we paid our house off two years ago.
    We listened to Dave Ramsey, and bought his books, if you follow his advice you will be debt free in know time.
    I would love to win the Auto Right Ultimate Car Kit for my husband, I think it would make things a whole lot easier for him.

  25. Edwina says:

    I love everything about my Honda CRV-great car-2nd CRV we’ve owned! Thanks for this giveaway!

  26. Peggy says:

    I love that is paid for and reliable. I could use the interior detail though and would love to be able to do it myself.

  27. Khadija says:

    I really need to clean my car, LOL.
    Stay out of debt at all costs. Cleaning machines like this are so helpful to keep your things in great shape.

  28. Cheryl says:

    Living debt free is enjoying financial freedom! We take great care of our vehicles and keep them a long time so this ultimate car kit would enable us to do it much easier!

  29. Laura says:

    Just let my 2003 Exploder-oops-Explorer go today. Sniff, sniff. It had 277,000 plus kms (approx. 175,000) on it and was still going. It just didn’t handle the last major hailstorm very well so they wrote it off. I would still be driving it otherwise.

  30. Carmen says:

    Hi, We have always believed in keeping a vehicle as long as it made financial sense. I had a 2003 Pontiac Vibe with 260K miles on it, when I gave it to my daughter for college it got her through her graduation and more. I now have a 2010 Scion that has a 100K miles and I plan to see if it out do the mileage on the Pontiac Vibe.

  31. Michelle says:

    I love that I have a heavy, safe car to drive. It’s certainly not perfect (or new), but I’ll be happy to drive it until I get the most miles out of it possible. We also love Dave Ramsey!! Thanks for the giveaway. =)

  32. Sondra says:

    I love my Subaru Outback.

  33. MARTHAIA says:

    Its got 177,219 miles but THANK GOD its PAID for !!! 2000 MODEL

  34. Carol S. says:

    I love the gas mileage of my Honda CRV. I get nearly double the mileage of my old vehicle.

  35. Irene says:

    2006 Jeep Cherokee, 64,000 miles, and paid off!

  36. Jennifer says:

    I love my SUV. I bought it used and it now has over 106,000 miles. It needs some TLC from the years on the road but I love with the Pennsylvania winters!

  37. Diane L says:

    I love that my car is paid off–just wish it got better gas mileage. It is a 2002 Expedition–10 miles to the gallon but I only drive 10 miles to work and has 187,000 miles on it. Bought it brand new and was sticker shocked then and the price now for cars has almost doubled in price and you get a lot less of a car. I try very hard to keep it clean but I’m not very good at it and I think with those super nice tools would make it easier for myself and maybe my husband would help me keep it clean. He won’t even ride in it because it is so dirty. This is a great giveaway and I hope I win it would be sunshine to my eyes.

  38. Eileen Keane says:

    We drove our 2005 Ford Focus until it had 210,000 miles on it. Got to the point where repair cost more than the car was worth.
    We want a decent car that will be comfortable for us to travel in, but can’t afford it right now, so we leased a car with low payments and will save for the car we really want.

  39. Allison says:

    My favorite thing is that it’s paid off! I’m lucky to have a short commute, so I’m hoping that my 2003 Saturn will keep trucking for at least a few more years 🙂

  40. laurie riddle says:

    Would love to win this to keep our cars nice.

  41. sylvia says:

    I’ve been doing exactly what you have for years. My SUV is a 2002. It still looks and drives like new. My neighbor recently bought a new one…same make and model…and it looks just like mine! He was shocked to know that mine is 12 years older than his.

  42. Janet says:

    Love that our 1998 van has over 200,000 and is still performing great, and it is such a comfortable ride.

  43. Patty says:

    Great information. Although I’d love a new car, I realize I need to be practical! Plan on driving mine as long as I can!

  44. rachel says:

    We recently bought a used van that we intend to keep for years! Love the space!

  45. Tammara says:

    My 2001 Lexus SUV has a 158,000 miles and is still doing great, even with wear and tear on the outside. The ultimate car kit would make my car sparkle inside and out!

  46. Marlene Gomez says:

    I have a 2007 Honda Accord Coupe and I love everything about it! I have never had any mechanical problems with it. It saves money on gas and I really don’t see myself purchasing another vehicle for a while.

  47. Lea C says:

    We totally subscribe to this uncommon mentality. My car was bought new 15 years ago, has been garage-kept and the old girl still looks and rides great. My dad (a mechanic by trade) taught us to care for our vehicles from a young age. Thank you for this generous giveaway!

  48. Aubrey Claybrook says:

    I love that we bought our car with a small loan and hopefully be able to pay it off soon! But I love that it helps me feel safe on the road 🙂

  49. Angela W says:

    I love the room that my family has in our ride.

  50. rick miller says:

    Love the leather

  51. teresa says:

    Thanks you for this chance. I could use this not only for my car, but for the vintage stoves I restore.

  52. Karen J says:

    My car is nine years old and still like new. Have had many different cars but absolutely love everything about this one. It’s been paid for a long time now and I intend to drive the wheels off it.

  53. SONJA HANSEN says:

    I like that my car is paid for and that it hasn’t required a lot of repairs.

  54. Maryann Smith says:

    I love my car because it is paid for.

  55. Maureen C says:

    I love that my car is almost paid for and can haul home my thrifty finds

  56. cassie says:

    what a phenomenal giveaway! I cant say I love my current ride 🙂 It’s the definition of a clunker. But I suppose I love that I can throw one or all of our 4 dogs in the back of the suv and not worry about hair and slobber 😉

  57. Mary says:

    With two in college, this would be a great package to care for our cars.

  58. mary ballerin says:

    I picked it out because the interior color hides pug hair. I love the exterior color, and the fact that it can haul a lot of bigger items with the back seats folded down. I bought an ’07 Impala that was 6 months old with about 20K miles on it, I don’t put on many miles. It’s still under 50K and it’s been paid off for six years, but only because my mom died. I wish I could keep it cleaner more easily, I have physical disabilities that make it difficult to do a lot of things I’d like to do. AutoRight and HomeRight have many great products that make life easier!

  59. Cindy B says:

    I LOVE that it is paid for, is in great shape (we’re the second owners and the first are great people) 2004 Camry with less than 50k miles. And I’d love to have this kit to make it even easier to maintain.

  60. Dan says:

    Have a 98 Saturn Wagon 240000 miles and still going strong. Just bought 04 Sebring convertible 53000 miles. One payment. Gimme that detail kit, Please

  61. Rhonda Grisham says:

    I love that both of my vehicles are paid for! I soooo dislike car payments.

  62. Claire says:

    I love my car because it’s paid off, but it’s also very spacious and great for beach/bay trips! I take care of it with regular maintenance, but I’m definitely slacking and could do better with the detailing love 🙂

  63. Jamie Mann says:

    My car isn’t quite paid off yet, but we are working towards it, but I love that it is an SUV! My first one and I don’t think I would ever want to go back to a car. This was a great post!

  64. Price says:

    Thanks for sharing some tips! We just got a new car for more space and 4-wheel drive! I loved my car, but we needed something different. Hoping to keep this one for a VERY LONG time!

  65. Pat Soule says:

    Life in the summer, dogs, and grandchild have made my car look like a playground. I could definitely use this to keep my car under control!!

  66. Laurie says:

    It’s paid for and gets me where I need to go!

  67. Carol says:

    I love these products. How much easier car care would be with these.

  68. Carol says:

    I love these products. How much easier car care would be with these.

  69. Lisa V says:

    We paid cash for both of our cars and will drive them until our wheels fall off, then put them back on and drive some more!

  70. amy tolley says:

    i love not having any car payments on any of our vehicles i love my van its roomy and had plenty of room for family gatherings and trips

  71. Kelly D says:

    I love my 4 wheel drive and that is just the right size for my family.

  72. Realia M says:

    i have a jeep patriot and i love everything about it! I love jeeps!

  73. Jennifer Nielsen says:

    I love that it has enough room for my family and gets really good gas mileage.

  74. Angela Cash says:

    I love my SUV because it is spacious enough to carry the materials for my endless list of DIY projects. It also gets decent gas mileage.

  75. steve weber says:

    I love how smooth my car rides –

  76. Vera K says:

    My vehicle is relatively dependable.

  77. Heather Hayes Panjon says:

    I Like The Storage Space My Car Has.

  78. Joan Kubes says:

    I love that my current ride has a lots of room and is 4X4!

  79. Em Mahr says:

    I love that my car’s paid off, reliable, and safe.

  80. Jasmine L says:

    I love that it’s paid off and “antique”.

  81. Lisa says:

    That it holds a lot, is paid for, and the heated seats work great!! (A treat in MN)

  82. Jacob LaFountaine says:

    It has a nice throaty sound when you lay into the naturally aspirated V8.

  83. carol clark says:

    i like how it looks how it handles the road and i love eco mode the most saves me money

  84. Nathalie Berube says:

    It’s gets me where I need to go!

  85. Susan D says:

    First I love that my truck is paid for. Second, I love that feels like a car while driving – it’s really got a comfortable and roomy ride.

  86. DJ says:

    I love my Elantra. It ride well, is affordable, and gets good gas mileage.

  87. Jesselyn A/Jesstinger says:

    It’s a Volvo ~ but it is VERY (aka it was “born” in the previous CENTURY) ~

    But, it is solid as a tank and continues to be reliable and trustworthy…. (knock on wood… ) ; ~ )

  88. wendy nicholls says:

    I love that its good on gas , and I love the push button start 🙂

  89. Kaye Newman says:

    I love my new Kia Sportage. I have always wanted a small SUV. It rides so smooth and is so comfortable.

  90. Ted Z says:

    I love the HEMI engine!

  91. Colleen B says:

    Well i love that is is roomy and still looks good even through it is 24 yrs old and that it has low mileage (63000 original). And it is in need of detailing so I could sure use one of these!!

  92. Gail Mcmurray says:

    I love how easy my car is to navigate and the seat warmers on cold days.

  93. Caroline says:

    I love my jeep liberty because of how much I can haul with it.

  94. Amanda Whitley says:

    my current ride is a ford f-150 and i like having the bed that i can transport large items in

  95. Tonia Jeffery says:

    Ugg. I think there is half a bag of pretzels in the back of our car.

  1. August 22, 2015

    […] series on how to save big money on vehicles. If you haven’t already, read part one, “How to love the car you’re with.” Also, don’t forget to enter to win the Ultimate Car Care Kit from HomeRight®, […]

  2. August 26, 2015

    […] a three-part series on how to save big money on vehicles. If you haven’t already, read parts one and two. Also, don’t forget to enter to win the Ultimate Car Care Kit from HomeRight®, running […]

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