Done with taxes? Stop and check your auto financial health

car finance tips
It’s tax time again, and while you’re digging through your financials, it’s a great time to check in on your auto financial health
Here’s an auto finance self-checkup you need to perform at least once a year. 

Can you lower your car insurance rate? 

  • Check with your agent and see if all possible discounts have been applied.  Do you have a home or renter’s insurance policy with the same agency (to qualify for a multi-policy discount)? Have you installed a car alarm or lojack, took a defensive driving class, or has it been three years since your last accident?
  • How many miles did you drive this year?  Were you laid off, do you carpool, or work from home and use the car only for “personal use”?  Less miles typically means a lower rate.
  • Can you save any money by raising your deductibles or dropping collision on an older car? 
  • Have you shopped around for competitive quotes recently? and Esurance are good for competitive quotes from multiple agencies.
  • Are you paying your premium in installments with extra service fees?  If you can swing it, consider paying annually or semi-annually to avoid those fees.

What’s the interest rate on your car loan?

If it’s high, consider refinancing.  Check out rates on a site like up2drive and see if refinancing makes sense.

Do you use your car for business purposes? 

If so, you may be able to deduct some of your annual mileage.  If you qualify, be sure to log the distance and purpose of every business trip because the IRS requires a detailed log.

Have you paid your dues? 

Does your state require an annual inspection and/or emissions test?  Does your state have a personal property tax on automobiles?

Have you checked your owner’s manual lately? 

That paperweight in your glove compartment ought to be reviewed once in a while.  You’ll probably find a recommended maintenance schedule inside.  To prevent catastrophic repair bills, it’s best to stay on top of routine items like:

  • Oil changes
  • Air filter
  • Brakes
  • Fluid levels
  • Tire treads, air pressure, balance and alignment
  • Headlights and taillights

Is your car clean and waxed? 

Aside from looking sharp, a clean car can actually improve your gas mileage.  And regular waxing will help protect your paint job and increase your re-sale value.  Most waxes should be applied twice/year.

Have you checked your credit this year?

While you may think it’s not related to your auto-health, your credit directly affects your ability to get a good loan on your next car.  If you wait until you’re ready to buy, it’s probably too late to fix any errors or improve your score at that point.
Anything you’d like to add to the list?