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3 reasons to kick the tires on your auto expenses this summer

  • Consumers can save an average $416 by re-shopping auto insurance.
  • Refinancing an auto loan can take less than an hour.

Summer is a prime time to take your auto-related bills for a test drive.

For starters, consumers heading to the dealership this summer may have more leverage. A growing number of vehicles coming off leases means lots of choice in the used-car market, a glut that may leave dealers more open to negotiating, per a recent Edmunds.com report. (The downside: If you're trading in a car, getting top dollar in the used market may require extra work.)

Even if you're not in the market for a car, there are still plenty of opportunities to save on ongoing expenses. Transportation costs — like auto loan payments, insurance and repairs — take up 14 percent of the average consumer's budget, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Here are three ways to save:

1) Cut auto debt

More than a third of American households are making car payments, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study, with more than $1 trillion in auto loans now outstanding. But it's easy to get in over your head: Auto-loan delinquencies, although still low, rose more than any other category during the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the latest data from the American Bankers Association.

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"When that new car smell disappears, there is still a monthly payment that needs to be made," James Chessen, chief economist at the ABA, said in a statement. "Thoughtful and realistic budgeting over the life of the loan is the best protection against becoming overextended."

If you're looking to buy or lease, research financing before you head to the dealership. Rates can vary widely, and a little upfront research could save you thousands over the life of your loan. Drivers who have already borrowed might also look into refinancing their loan, a process that experts say can take less than an hour.

Read more: Auto loan delinquencies rise as drivers splurge on pricey cars

2) Reprice auto insurance

Almost 40 percent of Americans haven't re-shopped their car insurance in three years or more, according to a new report from NerdWallet — and it's costing them big bucks. They're losing out on an average $416 per year by not checking for better rates.

Potential savings vary by state. Delaware residents stand to save the most, they found, at $1,845 per year.

"These kinds of expenses have a tendency to inch up on us," Victoria Fillet, a certified financial planner and co-founder of Blueprint Financial Planning in Hoboken, New Jersey, told CNBC. "If you don't pay attention, you wind up paying more than you really have to. Even if you can afford the higher rate, why pay more than you should?"

Read more: Price shopping auto insurance is quick and yields big savings

3) Correct insurance errors

Liar, liar: 10 percent of drivers have intentionally given wrong information when applying for an auto insurance policy, according to NerdWallet. Experts say it's not unusual for people to accidentally give wrong information, either — say, by under- or overestimating miles driven, providing the wrong vehicle trim info, or forgetting the date of a moving violation.

But lies are likely to catch up with you, especially if you have to file a claim. State laws vary, but if the lie is material to your claim, the insurer could deny you coverage and even cancel your policy, Peter Kochenburger, deputy director of the University of Connecticut's Insurance Law Center, told CNBC. You might also run afoul of state insurance fraud laws.

"Underwriting auto insurance is becoming a lot more data-driven," Kochenburger said. "It's much easier to catch these things than it was before."

Read more: Here's what drivers fib about when applying for auto insurance