4 Tips for Finding the Right Car for Your California Commute

man smiling buckling seat belt in car

The good news, of course, is that COVID-19 is on the decline. Hospitalizations and death rates are down; masks are coming off. As in the rest of the country, workers in the Golden State are beginning to go back to work. Meaning, back to working in person, at least part-time. Reviewing your auto insurance needs for commuting in California should become a priority. 

Have you almost forgotten the unique challenges of commuting in California? It will all come back to you on your first congested rush hour drive. If your current work status involves you driving to your place of employment, even just for part of the week, you might be shopping for a new car. 

What factors are important? Where do you begin your search? Here’s what we think the four starting points are for finding the right car for your commute.

1. Look for Fuel Efficiency in a New or Used Vehicle 

California is a huge and expansive state. Gasoline has always been more costly here than in most other states. Congratulations if you live within biking distance or a ten-minute drive from your workplace. But that doesn’t describe many of us, does it?  

It’s more typical for Californians to live in the suburbs or surrounding smaller communities and commute to the big city. That means long drives and plenty of idling on congested highways. The irony is that the price of gasoline is skyrocketing at the same time that workers are getting in their cars again and commuting to work like in those nearly forgotten pre-COVID days. 

It may be time to think of alternatives to fossil fuels. Put electric vehicles on your research and shopping lists, and the costs of getting to and from work drop dramatically. Not quite ready to make that revolutionary change in what you drive? Then consider a hybrid automobile — a vehicle that uses both conventional fuel and an electric battery. You won’t totally abandon the fuel pumps you know so well, but you might not meet up with your friendly neighborhood gas attendants as often as you do now. 

Not yet convinced about electric power? No problem. There are plenty of good commuter cars out there that burn conventional fuel, but you need to shop carefully. Do your research to find the most fuel-efficient options. Consumer Report is a great place to start looking for the car models that can best keep your gasoline costs under control. 

Consumer Report’s most recent review of the fuel efficiency of gasoline-burning vehicles ranks makes and models by category. So you’ll find separate ratings for compact, subcompact, mid-size, and large cars, as well as for small and large SUVs, hatchbacks and wagons, minivans, and even pickup trucks, among other size categories. Other Consumer Report reviews rank hybrid and all-electric models for fuel-efficiency. 

2. Make Reliability Key 

You’ve possibly witnessed vehicles left steaming in the sun or slowing down traffic from breakdown lanes where drivers nervously awaited tow trucks during the height of a weekday rush hour. Maybe you’ve been the one at the side of the road. Or perhaps you’ve had to call your boss to report that you won’t be able to come to work because your car needs emergency repairs. 

Whatever the situation, you understand the importance of driving a reliable vehicle for your California work commute. So that’s another direction your careful research should take you as you shop for the ideal commuter car. 

There are plenty of credible online resources to help you find the ideal ride when it comes to this critical factor. And remember, sometimes the decision to pay more for your commuter car can mean deeper savings in the long run if the brand is more reliable than a cheaper model. 

group of cars on road

3. Consider Carpooling to Work 

What’s better than one reliable and fuel-efficient commuter car? How about three or four of them? That’s one of the advantages of teaming up with others at or near your workplace and commuting together to and from work. 

There are websites geared to matching up commuters for carpools. Your HR director at work might also be encouraged to help put carpool teams together. See if you can put a notice on the company website or in the next newsletter issue. You might find a lot of enthusiasm for sharing both the cost and the labor of driving to work if you have a long or difficult commute. 

4. Don’t Forget to Check for Car Insurance Savings 

Minimal coverage might have been more than sufficient when you were working from home and driving a few thousand miles a year. But what if your commute time adds another 10,000 or even 15,000 miles annually? Are you still adequately covered? 

Your California auto insurance for getting back on the commuting track might look a lot different than your current needs. Understanding how you can keep your commuting and car insurance costs down in this new reality can make a big difference to your checking account. Here are some ideas for how to do that: 

  • Shop around and compare auto insurance quotes – comparing quotes can help you find the most affordable insurance for your needs. 
  • Estimate your mileage correctly – you may still be eligible for a discount on your mileage. Will you be commuting full-time or part-time? 
  • What else has changed? Have you moved? Insurance rates take into consideration your zip code.  
  • Check into discounts – there are many different discounts car insurance carriers offer their customers. You may qualify for one or more of them, knocking quite a bit off that final bill. 
  • Consider changing to a higher deductible – this can lower your monthly premium. 

Take out your current policy and explain the expected changes to your driving pattern to your trusted auto insurance agent. Your agent will be able to tell you if your car insurance coverage is adequate or to make suggestions that might increase your sense of security at the restart of your commute. 

Find Affordable Auto Insurance in California Today 

We understand how your California auto insurance needs are changing as the world recovers from COVID. Call Cost-U-Less Insurance at 800-390-4071 to speak with an independent insurance agent. You can also get a free online car insurance quote or find an office and agent near you