Lucky you live in Hawai’i! For a budget-friendly island lifestyle, keeping transportation costs down is essential. We got you covered with this comprehensive list of transportation options, whether you’re commuting to work, running errands, or heading to the beach. Listed below are many ways Hawai’i residents can shave costs like ice. We examined how to get around Hawaiʻi without a car using aloha ‘aina alternatives like walking, bicycling, public transportation, and sharing services.
Of course the most common mode of transportation for residents in Hawaiʻi is a car (over 80% of households have at least one car). For those already navigating our roadways in their vehicle, we offer budget-friendly suggestions for auto maintenance to minimize costs and extend the life of your car. No matter where you live and work in Hawaiʻi, the following information can help you keep transportation costs as low as possible. Visitors will also find useful information within these options.
We arranged the following transportation options starting with two feet and proceeding from two to four wheels.
How to get around Hawaiʻi without a car
There are many ways to get around Hawaiʻi without a car, including walking, bicycling, two-wheeled vehicles (mopeds, etc.), and public transportation. Find information about using these transportation alternatives in the sections below.
You can reduce the need to spend money on transportation by living within walking distance of work, as well as everyday needs such as a grocery store, hardware or household goods store, a library, and more conveniences. Walking also helps you maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, which can help reduce other costs such as medical care. For longer distances, be sure to wear slippahs or shoes with adequate support.
When you need a ride to occasional services such as doctor appointments, try to barter with friends or family. For work, look for a carpool with co-workers. Many other options are listed below including two-wheeled vehicles, public transportation, sharing, and rental options.
Commuting by bicycle is very cost-effective and eco-friendly. To commute by bicycle, you need to have a suitable bike, follow Hawaiʻi state and local county regulations, and practice safe cycling. We list the basics below and provide links to more information.
Summary of Hawaiʻi Bicycle laws
Hawaiʻi bicyclists are drivers of vehicles with most of the same responsibilities as motorists. Listed below are some of the basic requirements, plus a link to more detailed information.
- Across Hawaii, all bicycles are required to be registered and pay a fee to maintain bike infrastructure.
- Wear a properly fitted helmet. Everyone under age 15 is required to wear a helmet while bicycling.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals, just as motorists must do.
- Ride with traffic, use bicycle lanes when available, and hand signals when turning.
- Do not ride against traffic or on interstate freeways.
- As with any vehicle, it is illegal to ride after drinking or taking drugs.
Links to more info about Hawaiʻi bicycle laws:
- HIDOT: Rights and Responsibilities for Hawaii’s Bicyclists
- gov | Bicycle Registration & Laws by County (ehawaii.gov)
- Hawaii County | Bicycle Registration (hawaiicounty.gov)
- Honolulu County Bicycle Program (honolulu.gov)
- Kauai County | Bicycles (kauai.gov)
- Maui County | Bicycle and Moped Registration (mauicounty.gov)
After you familiarize yourself with Hawaiʻi bike laws, learn how to bike safely around the islands.
Tips for Safe Cycling
Urban cycling presents unique challenges. Listed below are essential tips to ensure a safe and comfortable ride, plus links to more bike safety information in Hawaiʻi.
- Have your bike properly fitted for seat and handlebar height.
- Equip your bicycle with front and rear reflectors to enhance your visibility to motorists.
- Equip your bicycle with front and rear lights when riding at dusk or after dark.
- Wear comfortable, close-fitting clothing that protects you from weather (sun or rain) and won’t get caught in the wheels or gears.
- Wear high-visibility clothing to make it easier for motorists to see you.
- Wear a helmet to reduce risk of head injury if you fall off your bike. Everyone under age 18 is required to wear a DOT-approved helmet while riding a moped, motor scooter, or motorcycle.
- You can use your smartphone to plan a ride from any location. Enter a destination in Google Maps, choose the Cycling option, and get a suggested route.
- If you live on Oʻahu, there are dedicated bike routes that suggest safe and convenient access to major areas. More info: Bike Maps Oahu.
- Don’t ride distracted by wearing headphones, using your phone, or any other activity.
- Keep your eyes on the road and be especially alert to motorists, parked cars, and driveways.
- Hawaiʻi public buses are equipped with bicycle racks on the front of the bus, available on a first-come, first-serve basis, making remote destinations accessible by bike. Get more info about biking by bus in the sections below on bus service throughout the islands.
- Park your bicycle in designated areas and racks using a sturdy lock.
Links to more info for Safe Cycling
- Guide to safe cycling in Hawai’i (PDF) (honolulu.gov)
- Honolulu Police Department | Bicycle Laws & Safety (honolulupd.org)
- Hawai‘i Bicycling League (hbl.org)
- Maui Bicycling League (mauibike.org)
With this information about safe cycling, you can feel more confident sharing the roads across Hawaiʻi.
Choosing a suitable bicycle
Commuter road bikes typically have features like an upright riding position, fenders to protect against rode splatter, and racks or baskets for carrying groceries or work essentials. Choose a sturdy commuter bike designed for urban roadways.
If you plan to also ride on trails, opt for a hybrid bike that combines the best features of road and mountain bikes. Hybrid bikes offer stability, comfort, and the added ability to handle both urban and rural terrain.
If your commute involves hills or long distances, consider an electric bike or e-bike, which provide power assisted pedaling. E-bikes greatly ease excessive exertion for more difficult rides.
I owned an e-bike for a few years and appreciated the boost when going up hills. The drawbacks are initial cost (I was able to barter for the bike) and weight (e-bikes are heavy, which is a drawback when carrying the bike on stairs or loading onto buses).
Bikesharing is an on-demand, affordable way to get around Hawai‘i. Bikeshare Hawaii is the statewide non-profit organization that provides bikesharing services to Hawaii residents and visitors across the state. The program also promotes continued development of infrastructure for safe biking.
- Biki is Honolulu’s bikeshare system. Purchase Biki rides online, through the Biki App, or at the kiosks at Biki stations. More info: Biki (gobiki.org)
- HIBIKE is Hawai’i Island’s bikeshare option in Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Purchase HIBIKE rides online, through the PBSC* App, or at HIBIKE kiosks. Kiosks. More info: HIBIKE (hawaiiislandbike.com)
* Now PBSC Urban Solutions, formerly Public Bike System Company
Bikesharing is a great option for short trips within the bike share network. For longer trips, bicycle rental can be a better option.
Bicycle rental is available on Oʻahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi. You will find most bicycle shops in tourist areas and major cities or towns (such as Windward Oʻahu and Hilo, Hawaiʻi). Search online for local bike rental shops. Hotel concierge are also good resources for recommendations on where to go and what to do.
Moped, motor scooter, or motorcycle
The difference between a moped, motor scooter, and motorcycle are defined by Hawaiʻi state law. The basic differences are outlined below.
- A moped can have two or three wheels, a maximum 50cc combustion engine and power output of two horsepower, and a top speed of 30MPH.
- A motor scooter has a maximum power output of five horsepower and can’t be categorized as a moped.
- A motorcycle has a handlebar and seating that requires the operator to straddle it and is designed to travel on no more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excludes a farm tractor and a moped
Summary of Hawaiʻi moped, motor scooter, and motorcycle laws
Regulations for mopeds, motor scooters, and motorcycles are established by county. Listed below are some of the basics, plus a link to more information.
- Mopeds, motor scooters, and motorcycles must be registered in the county where you reside.
- Moped, motor scooter, and motorcycle operators must obey all traffic laws in the county where you ride.
- Moped, motor scooter, and motorcycle operators under 18 years of age must wear a DOT-approved
- Moped operators must have a valid driver’s license and wear a helmet and goggles.
- Motor scooter and motorcycle operators must have a motorcycle license, insurance, and appropriate goggles or windscreen.
- Mopeds must be driven in bicycle lanes were provided.
- Mopeds may not be driven on roadway shoulders, sidewalks, or freeways, or after dark.
- Motor scooters and motorcycles may not be driven in bicycle lanes.
- Two-wheeled mopeds can only be ridden by one person and may not carry passengers.
Rent a moped, motor scooter, or motorcycle
Moped, motor scooter, and motorcycle rental is available on Oʻahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi. You will find shops in tourist areas and major cities or towns (such as Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu and Hilo, Hawaiʻi). Search online for rental shops. Hotel concierge are also a good resource for recommendations.
Public Transportation Options in Hawaiʻi
Here we detail various public transportation options, including bus systems, Skyline HART light rail, and trolleys. Public transportation is available on most islands and is generally reliable and very affordable. Schedules are limited in some areas and of course can be crowded during peak times. If you plan to commute by bus, consider whether there is a direct bus line where you live, making it efficient for travel to work and errands.
Tips for riding the bus anywhere in the Hawaiian Paeʻāina
- All buses are equipped with bicycle racks; you must secure your own bike. Racks are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
- Luggage and surfboards are not allowed on buses; all packages must be carried in your lap or fit under your seat.
- Bus routes, fares, and schedules are governed by county. Find more information in the sections below.
- If you have a smartphone, enter a destination in Google Maps and choose the Transit option to get suggested routes from any location.
The public transit systems for each island are summarized below, with links to more detailed information.
Hawaiʻi County public transportation
The County of Hawaiʻi Mass Transit Agency (MTA) provides a range of public transit services used by over half a million passengers annually on the island of Hawaiʻi. Transit services are provided by MTA under contract with Roberts Hawaiʻi, taxicab companies, and other organizations.
- Fares are FREE throughout the entire Island of Hawaiʻi on all Hele-On commuter routes, Hele-On Kakoʻo paratransit, HI Bike (while riding on Hele-On), and specialized service for seniors and persons with disabilities.
- Use the Track Hele-On app for real-time location and arrival times.
- Kona Trolley services stops along Ali’i Drive to popular shoping and dining locations throughout Kailua-Kona. The route is funded by local businesses. This route operates seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., every 60 minutes. Just look for a Kona Trolley or Hele-On Bus Stop Sign or flag the trolley at a safe location. More info: Route 201: Kona Trolley | Hawaii County MTA
- Other paid services include a vanpool program, a shared ride taxi program, Park and Ride lots, and the Kona Trolley between Kona Commons Shopping Center and Keauhou Shopping Center.
Hawai’i Island Park & Ride
Park & Ride facilities are transit stations where bus patrons may drive to the facility, leave their car during the day and catch public transit. The MTA operates Park & Ride facilities inthe following locations:
- Ocean View at Prince Kuhio Boulevard @ Route 11 near Maile Drive
- Moʻoheau Park & Bus in Hilo (329 Kamehamema Ave, near Waianuenue Ave)
- Bayfront Park & Ride in Hilo (Kamehameha Ave @ Pauahi St)
- Takeshi Kamigaki Parking Lot in Kealakekua (Route 11 @ Nani Kupuna Place)
- Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano
More info: Hele-On
Kauaʻi County public transportation
The Kaua’i Bus operates a Public (Fixed Route) bus service and a Paratransit (Door-to-Door) bus service from Hanalei to Kekaha daily.
- Buy bus passes at locations around the island.
- Use TheKauaiBus app for real-time location and arrival times.
More info: Kauai Bus – Kauai.gov
Maui County public transportation
Public transit service is available on Maui under contract with partner organizations. Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) provides specialized services on Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.
Lānaʻi public transportation
There is no public transportation on Lānaʻi.
- Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) provides specialized transportation services at no cost to qualified community members. More info: Human Services – Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. (meoinc.org)
- The Lahaina-Lanai Ferry provides service between Lanai and Maui. More info: Lānaʻi Passenger Ferry (go-lanai.com)
Other transportation options include rentals cars (four-wheel drive recommended), hotel shuttles, taxi service, Uber and Lyft, two-wheels, and of course walking.
Molokaʻi public transportation
There is no public trasnportation on Molokaʻi.
- Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) provides specialized transportation services at no cost to qualified community memebers. More info: Human Services – Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. (meoinc.org)
- Ferry service between Maui and Molokai was suspended indefinitely in 2016.
Other available transportation options include rentals cars, taxi service, two-wheels, and of course walking.
Maui island public transportation
The Maui Bus public transit service, operated by Roberts Hawai‘i, runs seven days a week, including holidays. All vehicles on the routes are ADA accessible. Eligible riders may use the ADA paratransit service.
- Buy a bus pass or use exact fare. Transfers between routes are no charge.
- Use the MDOT Trackbus app for real-time location and arrival times.
- Kaanapali Trolley provide service to Hotels and Golf courses with stops for shopping and dining. Rides are free within the resort area and run approximately every 30 minutes. More info: Kaanapali Trolley
More info: Maui Bus
O’ahu Transportation Services
The City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services (DTS) is responsible for all forms of movement of people and goods on government-owned streets and roadways. DTS works to provide safety for all modes of transportation and increased quality of life for residents by balancing travel modes including motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.
Listed below is more information about the public bus system and the Skyline HART rail system in operation as of June 30, 2023.
TheBus public transit system is an inexpensive way to get around Oʻahu. Here are some tips for using TheBus:
- Use cash to pay exact fare; drivers do not carry change.
- To avoid carrying cash, get and load a HOLO Card. Daily, monthly, and annual passes are available. More info: HOLO (holocard.net).
- When using bicycle racks; you must secure your own bike: Bike Rack Procedures (thebus.org)
- TheHandiVan service is for persons with disabilities who are unable to use public bus service. More info: TheHandiVan (thebus.org).
- TheBus-HEA (Honolulu Estimated Arrival) gives real-time bus arrival information on your phone.
More info: TheBus
Oʻahu Park & Ride
Park & Ride facilities are transit stations where bus patrons may drive to the facility, leave their car during the day and catch TheBus. DTS operates Park & Ride facilities in the following locations:
- North Shore in Helʻiwa.
- West Oʻahu in Waipahu.
- Central Oʻahu in Wahiawa and Mililani.
- East Honolulu at Hawaii Kai.
More info: Park & Ride | TheBus
Waikīkī Tourist Trolleys
- Waikiki Trolley (waikikitrolley.com) is an open-air, hop on/off service. Drivers do not sell tickets. Purchase one-day or multi-day passes in advance online or at the Waikīkī Shoping Plaza (2250 Kalakaua Ave), open daily from 8am-5pm. The trolley operates on pre-dined loops from Waikīkī to locations throughout Honolulu.
- HiBus Trolley E-Ticket Pass (hibustrolley.com): With a HiBus Trolley pass (1, 4, or 7 days), you’ll enjoy unlimited rides on 5 different HiBus lines: Kahala, Diamond Head, Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako, and Downtown Honolulu. Purchase your pass online, then show your pass on your smartphone and you’re good to go.
- LeaLea Trolley (lealeatours.com) were unavailable last time we checked in mid-2023.
O’ahu Skyline: Honolulu Rail System
Skyline is Oʻahuʻs newest mode of transportation. Unlike TheBus, riders can bring items such as bikes, luggage, coolers, and surfboards. Overhead racks are available above aisle seats for these items.
See list of stations below. Trains are scheduled to arrive at stations every 10 minutes. So, if you miss a connection, your wait time is short.
- All stations have bicycle parking, ADA pedestrian access, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
- Most stations, except Kalauao and Halaulani Station, have a drop-off area.
- Two stations have parking: Keoneae Station near the University of Hawaii West Oahu and Halawa Station near Aloha Stadium has a 600-space lot.
- There are no public restrooms at stations.
More info: Rail Operations (honolulu.gov)
Skyline Stations 1-9
As of 2023, Skyline provides service to nine stations (listed below) between East Kapolei and Aloha Stadium. Extensions eastward from Aloha Stadium to Kalihi is antipcated by 2025 and to City Center by 2031.
- Station #1: Kualaka‘i, East Kapolei at Keahumoa Parkway (91-3253 Kualakai Pkwy) near Barber’s Point and Kalaeloa in the ahupua‘a of Honouliuli. Serving the Kapolei, Makakilo, Ewa Beach, and outlying residential areas.
- Station #2: Keone‘ae, University of Hawai‘i West O‘ahu at Hoomohala Avenue (91-3590 Kualakai Parkway). Serving the UH West Oahu campus and outlying residential areas.
- Station #3: Honouliuli, Ho‘opili (91-1251 Farrington Highway). Serving the residential communities of Honouliuli and outlying residential areas.
- Station #4: Hō‘ae‘ae, West Loch at Farrington Highway / Leoole Street / Leoku Street (94-135 Farrington Highway). Serving the West Loch, Ewa Beach, Waipahu, and outlying residential areas.
- Station #5: Pouhala, Waipahu Transit Center at Farrington Highway / Hikimoe Street (94-818 Moloalo Street. Serving the Waipahu, Waikele, and outlying residential areas.
- Station #6: Hālaulani, Leeward Community College campus parking lot (96-47 Ala Ike Bldg 1). Serving the Leeward Community College Campus, Waikele and outlying residential areas.
- Station #7: Waiawa, Pearl Highlands at Kamehameha Highway / Kuala Street (96-249 Kamehameha Highway). Serving the Pearl Highlands, Pearl Highlands Center, Pearl City, and outlying residential areas.
- Station #8: Kalauao, Pearlridge at Kamehameha Highway / Kaonohi Street (98-80 Kamehameha Highway). Serving the Pearlridge Center, Pearl City, Waimalu, Aiea, and outlying residential areas.
- Station #9: Hālawa, Aloha Stadium at Kamehameha Highway / Salt Lake Boulevard (99-232 Kamehameha Highway). Serving the Aloha Stadium, Aiea, Salt Lake, Moanalua, and outlying residential areas.
More info: Skyline Stations (honolulu.gov)
No cash is accepted on Skyline trains. Skyline riders must have an active HOLO card loaded with funds to board. Purchase HOLO cards at a station or participating stores around the island (including 7-Eleven, ABC Stores, Foodland, Palama Supermarket, and Times Supermarket).
Skyline Fares will follow the same structure as TheBus. For pass holders, HOLO cards ensure that you are not charged more than the limit for your pass.
Each first tap of the HOLO card will allow riders to enter the station and to board the next available train and come with a free transfer, good for up to 2.5 hours. Transfers can be used to board a TheBus, or another train without additional charge, if used within the 2.5 hours.
More info: HOLO Card (holocard.net)
Bus-Rail Integration Plan (BRIP)
The Bus-Rail Integration Plan changes bus routes to minimize redundancies in the overall transit network and keeps operating costs low. No Peak Express bus routes are affected. Most changes improve frequency and availability of service.
More info: Skyline x TheBus Integration (honolulu.gov)
Getting around by car
Car sharing is a flexible vehicle rental option for those on a budget and can be (but not always!) more economical than renting, especially when you need a car occasionally for short trips of less than a day. Car sharing is a platform, not a rental company, and regulations vary from state-to-state. Be sure to read agreements carefully even if you have used car share outside of Hawaiʻi.
There are two basic types of car sharing: peer-to-peer with private car owners and station-based with a fleet of cars owned by the car sharing platform. Make sure to understand any extra fees that can increase the final cost. Listed below are the car sharing platforms available in Hawaiʻi.
- Getaround peer-to-peer, contactless car sharing is available in the Honolulu Metro Area. You can search for a nearby car, book it, and unlock instantly, all from your phone. Car owners can make money when they aren’t using their car. More info: getaround | Hawaii (getaround.com)
- Hui is round-trip, station-based car sharing (returned to the same location). Hui is on Oʻahu using your smartphone. Download the Hui app, apply for membership, locate a car near you, and you are good to go. More info: Hui Car Share (drivehui.com)
- Turois peer-to-peer car sharing of privately owned vehicles, available in most U.S. cities. We found cars available on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Lanaʻi, Maui, and Molokaʻi. Car owners can make money when they aren’t using their car. Turo also provides car owners with tools and resources to build a small portfolio of cars to share. More info: Turo car sharing (turo.com)
- Zipcar is one-way, station-based car sharing. Zipcars are available in Honolulu. Applying for membership typically takes a few minutes. More info: Zipcar: Car Sharing
Ride sharing is one-way vehicle transportation service, much like a taxi. Listed below are ride sharing services are available in Hawaiʻi.
- holoholo is a locally owned ridesharing company for kamaʻaina and tourists on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Lanaiʻ Maui, and Oʻahu. Book last minute or schedule a ride up to a year in advance. Book online or via the app. More info: holoholo (rideholoholo.com)
- Lyft is available in most major cities throughout the Hawaiian Paeʻāina. To use it, To use it, download the Lyft app and create an account with a payment method. When you’re ready to go, tap ‘Search destination’ in the app, enter your drop-off location, and select your preferred ride type. More info: Ride With Lyft
- Uber is available in most major cities throughout the Hawaiian Paeʻāina. To use it, download the Uber app and create an account with a payment method. When you’re ready to go, open the app, enter your destination, and choose the ride option (economy or premium). More info: Uber | Ride
If you are arriving at the Honolulu International Airport or any of the airports on neighboring islands, we recommend the taxi line or shuttle line. There are many cab companies and airport shuttle services throughout the islands. Information about these transportation options is easily searched online or via the coconut wireless (friends and neighbors). Listed below are a couple of the major companies serving Oʻahu.
- TheCAB is Oahu’s largest taxi dispatch company available 24/7 throughout the island. Book using TheCAB app, online, or by calling 808-422-2222. Never a surge charge. Kamaʻaina rates available. More info: TheCab Hawaii
- Charley’s Taxi is local, 3rd generation, woman-owned transportation compnay on Oʻahu. Book online or by calling 808-233-3333. More info: Charley’s Taxi (charleystaxi.com)
No car rental company always has the lowest prices because at any given time rental rates can fluctuate widely based on demand. However, listed below are several ways to find the best price every time you want or need to rent a car.
- Save on rental car insurance by checking with your insurance company to see whether your policy includes coverage for rental cars for collision, liability, personal effects, and comprehensive. Also check whether the credit card you use to rent a car includes insurance for rental cars, and if so, which coverage types.
- If your personal auto policy and your credit card does not include adequate insurance coverage for rental cars, you should consider purchasing insurance through the rental company. Depending on the type of coverage needed, this can more than double your rental rate.
- Compare prices across several brands. You can do this through your airline when booking airfare and at travel sites such as Costco, Expedia, Kayak, Momondo, Orbitz, Priceline, Skyscanner, and Travelocity. However, after I complete my research, I prefer to book directly with the car company and often find even better prices.
- Compare prices across several classes of cars. Small, economy cars are not always the lowest price because they are also in high demand. By the way, I do not recommend choosing the option that lets the car company choose the type of vehicle unless you want whatever they have leftover. Which can be less than ideal. I speak from experience.
- When booking a rental car, take advantage of any available discounts, such as AAA, AARP, pay-in-advance, airline points, loyalty programs, or a package deal that includes your airfare, hotel, and car rental.
- Ask about the cheapest gas option. Usually, but not always, it is to return the car with a full tank.
- Be sure to return by the deadline to avoid additional charges.
When I lived on Hawai’i Island without a car, I joined a car rental company loyalty program, and rented a vehicle for a few days every month to run errands. My average monthly car rental was under $200 (including insurance). The rest of the time I walked or used HIBIKE. It was a good mix of convenience and price, and far cheaper than car ownership, more efficient than sharing, and definitely more convenient than the bus.
There is no doubt about it. Car ownership is the most expensive of all transportation options. Many families require a car to effectively manage family activities (school, work, errands, after school activities, etc.). Others simply want the convenience of being able to go where they want, when they want. If you need or want to own your own vehicle, listed below are several ways to reduce the costs.
Ways to save on car ownership costs
- Work remotely. Negotiate remote work days with your employer to reduce commuting costs, including gas, parking, and maintenance.
- Use employer commuter benefits: If you are in the market for a new job, look for or negotiate commuter benefits such as employer-supplied bus passes and free or subsidized parking (especially if working in downtown Honolulu or Waikīkī where parking is expensive).
- Take advantage of carpool and HOV benefits: To encourage ride sharing and reduce traffic congestion, HDOT provides High Occupancy Vehicles Lanes (HOV) and Zipper Lanes that are reserved for the exclusive use of buses, carpools, motorcycles, and EV-licensed vehicles. HDOT also operates a free carpool matching service. More info: HDOT Rideshare
- Look for auto insurance bundles: Shop around for the best car insurance rates and consider bundling it with other policies (home, life, umbrella) to potentially save money.
- Monitor Gas Prices: Stay informed about gas prices in your area and always fill up when prices are lower (usually Monday-Wednesday, especially before holiday weekends).
- Combine Errands into one planned route to keep mileage to a minimum, saving on fuel and maintenance costs.
- Maintain your vehicle according to your car owner’s manual or use the suggested auto maintenance schedule below.
Tips to maximize fuel efficiency
- Don’t store items in your car if not needed for your current trip, extra weight uses more fuel.
- Keep tires properly inflated, low tire pressure uses more fuel.
- Keep your car in good running condition (see section below on auto maintenance).
- Use regular gas (unless you have a high-performance vehicle, e.g. a sports car).
- Use synthetic oil, which costs more but saves in the long run by increasing fuel efficiency and extending the life of your engine as long as possible.
- Use A/C only at highway speeds (>40 mph) with A/C at lowest possible setting, turn off A/C and open windows on city streets (<40 mph)
- Drive at a steady pace, don’t suddenly step on the gas or brake.
- When idling for two minutes or longer, turn off the engine.
Suggested auto maintenance schedule
Regular pre-emptive maintenance keeps your car in good running condition. If you want your vehicle to last the longest possible time and reduce fuel costs, maintain it regularly as suggested below.
Note: If you skimp on maintenance, it will not only reduce fuel efficiency, but you’ll also end up needing costly maintenance later. I tried skimping to save money and ended up with a car that quit in the middle of the road and hefty repair costs. When I averaged it out, the repairs totaled what I should have been paying over a five-year period to maintain the car. Avoidance isn’t cheaper and catches up with you eventually.
Ongoing car care:
- Check oil level every time you fill up the gas tank. Top it off (using the correct oil), if needed.
- If covered parking is not available, cover your car with a fitted cover.
- After visiting a beach, just like your surfboard, rinse the car, including the underside, with fresh water.
- Replace any light bulbs as soon as you notice they have gone out. Be sure to check the bulb isn’t merely loose!
- Service your vehicle anytime you hear strange noises, the car “leans” to one side, the ride seems bumpier than usual, the vehicle exhaust develops smoke or odor, or of course if dash warning lights come on.
Every 5,000 Miles:
- Check and top off any fluids including windshield washer, power steering, coolant, and transmission.
- Clean wiper blades and replace if they are still leaving streaks on the windshield.
- Check all lights and replace any that are not working (interior, headlights, brake lights, turn signals).
- Wash your car at least once a month using car washing soap (not dish or household soap) using a clean, soft cloth or sponge. Look for signs of rust or paint damage; contact a body shop at the first sign of any problems.
- Replace oil, oil filter, and air filters. However, some types of oil can go 10,000 miles.
- Inspect tread, rotate, and rebalance tires. However, with an an AWD car, you can do this every 10,000 miles.
Every 30,000 Miles:
- Replace air filter. If vog is prevalent, have it tested or change it every 15,000 miles.
- Replace the fuel filter.
- Replace brake fluid.
- Re-surface brake rotors (can be done once, then must be replaced)
- Inspect brake pads and replace if needed (may last up to as 50,000 miles).
- Inspect all belts and hoses for cracking and replace, if needed.
- Inspect ignition system, including alternator if your car has one (EV and hybrids typically do not; check your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic). If needed, replace spark plugs and spark plug wires (copper plugs last 30,000 miles, iridium or titanium plugs can last 90k-100k).
- Inspect suspension system.
- Test and adjust air conditioning system as needed.
- For manual transmissions, drain, clean, and refill with new fluid.
- Drain, flush, and replace power steering fluid.
- Check tire tread; if needed replace tires in sets. If you can insert a penny into the tire tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and the top of his head is flush with the surface of the tire, then your tread depth is below 2/32 of an inch—the tire is bald and must be replaced. A set of tires lasts an average of three to six years.
- Wax your car at least once per year. First, wash and dry the car. Apply wax in a shaded area using a clean poly foam applicator, then buff with a microfiber towel.
Every 50,000 Miles:
- Inspect battery for signs of leakage, test to make sure it is still recharging, and replace as needed.
- For automatic transmissions, drain and replace fluid and filter.
Every 60,000-90,000 Miles:
- Replace brake rotors (resurfacing can be done once, around 30,000 miles).
- Flush the cooling system and replace coolant.
- Replace all hoses and belts before 100k miles as they are nearing the end of their useful life.
- Change timing belt before 100k miles (between 75k-90k). Timing chains last longer.
- Replace spark plugs and spark plug wires by 100k.
- Though regular washing, waxing, and covering is often adequate, consider having the car undercoated every 5-10 years by a reputable dealer. Note that poor undercoating is worse than no undercoating.
- Perform all other maintenance and inspections above from 5,000 to 50,000 miles.
After 100k, start the whole sequence over! If well-maintained, the lifespan of a vehicle can be 200,000 miles, though with Hawaii’s humidity, sun exposure, and salt air tends to reduce average lifespan about 25%. Some types of cars fare better than others. Two of Hawaii’s most popular car brands, Honda and Toyota, are known for longevity and some are known to have exceeded 250,000 miles with ideal conditions and maintenance.