Cars in College: How to Save Money on Student Vehicles

As a new college student, you’re moving out on your own for possibly the first time. And having a car on campus would be the ultimate freedom, right? You can go wherever you want whenever you want.

Keeping a car with you at college can be costly, though. Let’s explore some of the ways you can save money with a little planning and preparation.

Know Your Campus Rules Before You Arrive

Before you even leave for school, look into your college or university rules about keeping cars on campus. Many institutions charge students for a parking pass to be able to keep their vehicles on the campus itself. And others don’t allow all students – such as freshman – to bring cars with them at all.

If your college won’t let you keep your vehicle at your dorm, you’ll need to consider other arrangements. While there might be free off-campus parking nearby, you might also have to rely on a paid lot or parking garage. To avoid costly surprises, figure out if that fits within your budget before you make the move.

Drive Only When Necessary

If it does make sense to keep your car on campus, don’t drive it constantly. The less you drive, the less you’ll spend on fuel, and the less wear and tear (and repairs) you’ll accumulate.

It can be a good idea to have a bike that you can ride around locally as-needed. But perhaps most importantly, it means setting boundaries with your roommates and friends so you don’t become seen as everybody’s default ride. Take turns carpooling when possible.

Find the Best Places to Fill Your Tank

Gas stations are known for their convenience pricing. That means the ones located closest to campus might charge a bit more because they know there will always be a large group of drivers around.

Get to know your area stations and find out where the cheapest ones are. Better yet, use a gas price app like Gas Guru to find out which gas stations have the lowest prices at any given time.

Seek Out Local Service Centers

If you’re used to taking your vehicle to your family’s favorite mechanic, it might be tempting to wait until you’re visiting home to have it serviced.

You can save money, however, by finding a new dealer service department or independent mechanic closer to school. This way you have someone you trust nearby if you need emergency repairs – long-distance towing can be expensive.

This also makes it easier to get routine maintenance done to avoid those emergencies in the first place.

Stay on Your Parents’ Insurance Policy

If your parents have been paying for your car insurance and they’re willing to continue doing so with you on their policy, take them up on it. But even if you have to pay your own way, ask them about staying on their policy.

Paying your parents the difference in their bill for having you as an extra driver will undoubtedly be cheaper than getting your own policy.

Have you ever kept a car on campus? If you were on a tight budget like many college students, how did you cut costs and make it affordable? By following some of these tips, you can have your freedom of the open road while keeping some money in your pocket.

Written by James Bradrick

James Bradrick left the sun and surf of southern Mexico to blog and write about civil and human rights issues from San Diego CA.

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