Owning a car is expensive, but there are ways to reduce costs. CR experts have pulled together tips in four key areas to help you get the most for your auto dollars. 

Pay Less for Car Insurance

1. Break up with your insurer. Many consumers stay wedded to their car insurance company for decades. But comparison shopping among multiple insurers every three years or so can result in lower premiums. Cover lots of ground fast online at The Zebra, which offers estimates from 18 to 35 insurers, depending on your state.

2. Raise your collision/comprehensive deductible. A two-car family could chop $500 off its annual premium by raising its collision deductible to $500, up from zero, according to our recent analysis of billions of premiums nationwide. Slice off an additional $141 with a $1,000 deductible.

3. Make your teens crack the books. Adding a new teen driver to your policy can almost double your premium. But students under age 25 who show proof of good academic performance can earn significant discounts, especially in California, Louisiana, and Minnesota.

See our car insurance Buying Guide and ratings

Get more expert advice from Consumer Reports on how to pay less for practically anything.

Steer Clear of In-Car Navigation Systems

You could save a good deal of money—hundreds, even thousands of dollars—on your next new car or truck by saying no thanks to the built-in navigation option. That’s because one of the best tools for finding your way around—your phone—is already in your pocket, and more automakers are integrating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay software into their vehicles. You connect your phone with a USB cord to your car’s infotainment system, and driving-appropriate apps appear on the car’s infotainment screen. In addition to navigation, you can receive phone calls, see texts, and select music playlists. (For safety’s sake, potentially distracting apps such as Facebook and Instagram won’t work.)

See our portable navigation buying advice and ratings.

Skip Needless New-Car Upsells

When you’re finalizing a new-car purchase, the dealer is likely to suggest add-ons that may seem smart but are a waste of money, based on our experience and testing, including:

VIN etching. Dealers in some states have to tell you that you qualify for an insurance discount if you etch the vehicle identification number into your car’s windshield as an anti-theft measure, and many charge about $200 for this. Say no. Etching can usually be done less expensively by an independent mechanic, or you can do it yourself for about $20 using an auto engraving kit.

Fabric protection. At around $400, this is the most expensive Scotchgard treatment your seats will ever see. For the same protection, spend a few bucks on a can of fabric protector and spray it on yourself.

Paint sealant. This roughly $600 add-on is little more than an overpriced liquid wax—the same kind you can buy from an auto-supply store for around $10 and apply yourself.

Rustproofing/undercoating. Today’s vehicles are manufactured with corrosion protection, making this additional treatment, which can cost about $800, superfluous.

Extended warranty. We’ve found that, on average, those who purchased an extended warranty spent hundreds more for the coverage than they saved in repair costs.

For more tips, read “Do’s and Don’ts When Buying a Car From a Dealer.”

Negotiate Tire Prices

If you assume you have to pay sticker price on tires, you’re probably paying too much. A CR survey in 2016 found that shoppers who negotiated tire prices were successful almost three-quarters of the time and saved a median of $22 per tire. In particular, consumers who shopped at Discount Tire, Firestone Complete Auto Care, and Tires Plus reported success rates of 80 percent or greater when negotiating. Successful hagglers at car dealerships saved even more, about $28 per tire. Negotiators were much less successful at Costco, where only 33 percent of customers who negotiated were successful. 

Learn more in “How to Save Money When Buying Replacement Tires.”

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the February 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.