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th-1If money is piling up in your checking account, here’s one way to divest yourself of the burden: Ignore both the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance tips and the “check engine” light.

According to CarMD.com, a faulty oxygen sensor is the most common reason for that check-engine light to pop up on the dashboard. The fix could be as simple as changing out a dirty air filter, but you could also be on the hook for a $259.30 (on average) sensor replacement.

Some folks push the envelope on maintenance visits or ignore the manufacturer guidelines entirely. They think that’s frugal, but it isn’t.

The oxygen sensor is a good example. Sure, you’ll save almost $260 by not fixing it. But you’ll pay for it in other ways. Expensive ways.

 


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thWhat were you spending on gasoline six months ago? Nationwide, the cost of gasoline dropped for more than three months in a row starting in late September 2014.

According to the American Automobile Association, we’re paying an average $1.11 per gallon less than this time last year.

A question for long-haul commuters and casual drivers alike: Where’s that money now?

How to save money from falling gas prices,” my recent post on Get Rich Slowly, suggests that you don’t let this opportunity slip away.


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thProbably not, according to Insure.com. Choosing a red car won’t mean higher insurance rates, either.

These are just two pervasive myths out there, according to the insurance-quote site. While new cars certainly do get stolen, professional thieves are much more likely to steal older models and part them out, and color is not considered when companies determine rates.

“I hope no one passed up the red Miata they really wanted because they thought the insurance would be more expensive,” says Amy Danise, editorial director of Insure.com.


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thIf you’re thinking about ditching collision, don’t do it based on some imagined formula. Although most people drop it by the eighth year of ownership, there’s no hard-and-fast (fast and furious?) rule.

Or so I found out while researching “When to drop collision coverage – and risk it all” for Insurance.com.

You’re required to have collision until your auto loan is paid in full. It repairs or replaces your wheels when you’re hit by an uninsured driver or when you have an at-fault accident. (Damn you, black ice!)

Insurance.com analyzed data from half a million car insurance quotes and found that year eight is when the biggest number of owners bid adieu to collision. Some swear by “the 10 percent rule”: If the annual premium is 10 percent or more of the car’s value, better to bank those bucks against a replacement vehicle.

But it’s not always that simple. Collision coverage is another example of how those living on the margins pay more.


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th-1An article in the July issue of Consumer Reports, “How to deal with road emergencies,” includes a sidebar on stuff every driver should keep in the car. While not everyone is going to have everything on the list, the piece will help you think through what you’d do if something went wrong.

Not that I’m wishing bad karma (carma?) on your road trip. But suppose you did have a fender-bender or a flat? Or one of your kids takes a tumble at the rest stop? Or your battery just up and dies when you’re miles from nowhere?

That’s where the Consumer Reports list comes in handy. Best-case scenario: You’ll never need any of it. Worst-case scenario? You’ll need it and not have it.

Since only amateurs pay retail, I’ll suggest some frugal hacks after the list. They won’t all work if your trip is happening tomorrow, but they’ll help you replenish what’s missing for later excursions.


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