Budgeting Tips

10 Smart Ways to Keep Car Costs Down

Car and Go sign

After a house, a car is the second most expensive purchase people will make. Just like buying property, once you buy a car, the costs don’t end there. You have to think about running expenses; fuel, maintenance, insurance, just to name a few….and the costs probably seem never ending.

There are lots of ways you can save even before you purchase your car. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Buy a cheaper car. If you’re buying a brand new car then as soon as you drive it home, you can say goodbye to roughly 25% of the car value. The cheaper the car, the less the depreciation.
  • Try and go for a car with good fuel economy.
  • Choose a car that will best suit your lifestyle – size, features etc.
  • Think about reliability – check consumer reports, do some research on different makes and models.

Right, so what about once you have your car and you’re all set? Adding it all up, running a car can be expensive. Follow these simple rules and you can keep those costs down as much as possible.

Get it serviced on time

It’s best to get your car serviced around the same time every year if you can, and by a mechanic that you trust. Try to find out about maintenance that needs to be carried out and ask lots of questions. Just watch out for recommend repairs, do your research and have a chat with the mechanic to find out whether or not certain repairs can wait until next time.

Keep in mind that there’s nothing worse than driving a car with a problem – or worse still, a problem that you know nothing about. If you do feel as though something isn’t right then get it checked out as soon as possible.

Start it up

If you’re going away on a holiday, get someone to take your car out for a spin while you’re away. It’s not good to leave a car sitting for more than two or three weeks, as the battery can slowly lose charge if it sits idle, tyres can deflate and moisture can collect in the oil over time which could lead to corrosion.

Similar to above, don’t go for weeks without taking your car out, you might think you’re saving money but in the long run but it’s always good to take it out and about on the occasional trip.

Mind the bumps

Speed bumps can be annoying but they’re usually there for a reason. Taking it easy on the bumps will reduce wear and tear on the tyres and the suspension. Not only that but going too fast over speed bumps will also damage your shocks, destroy your steering and wreck your exhaust system.

Do little things yourself

Small jobs like cleaning the car, changing the oil and replacing the windscreen wipers can all be done yourself. If you’re not sure how, then either get family or friends to help out or there are plenty of video tutorials on YouTube which can give you instructions. This can save you heaps and you might learn a new skill too!

Don’t drive aggressively

Think again before stepping on the breaks or gas too much or too quickly as this could up your fuel consumption. Having good driving habits will actually save you quite a lot of money. According to fueleconomy.gov, you can save 15-30% on the highway and 10-40% in stop and go traffic.

Shop around for the cheapest fuel

It’s always a good idea to shop around for fuel bargains. Prices of fuel fluctuates throughout the day so that’s one thing to keep an eye on. Try not to fill up on public holidays as these tend to be the most expensive days.

Consider going on the cheapest days at the start of the week, using coupons, rewards programs or check the GasBuddy app. GasBuddy will tell you where to find the cheapest fuel in your area at any given time.

Don’t leave the car idling

If you’re waiting for someone, turn the engine off rather than leave it running. Leaving the engine on and not going anywhere will waste fuel and create more wear and tear on the car. It takes less fuel to turn the engine off and then start it up again when you’re ready.

Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure

It’s a good idea to check the tyres once a month to make sure that they are inflated to the maximum recommend pressure. It’s free to do at the petrol station and will only take you a few minutes.

Under inflated tyres will both use up more petrol and will wear out much faster, and not to mention they’re unsafe. Getting the tyre pressure correct can save up to 10% on fuel usage.

Don’t use the aircon if you can avoid it

Try and park in the shade if you can on a hot day so that you can limit the amount that you use your aircon. Using the aircon can increase fuel consumption by between 8 and 10%.

Save on your next insurance policy

A lot of people will just stick with the same insurance company year after year, not bothering to check the other insurance companies out there. Often, insurance companies will give new customers better deals.

Around a month or so before your car insurance policy is due for renewal, start to do some research. Try out one of the comparison websites to see what you should be paying for your insurance policy and go from there. Just think, a few minutes of searching online could save you hundreds of dollars off your next insurance policy.

Bonus tip: Try to run all of your errands in one trip if you can

It just makes sense doesn’t it? If you need to go to the shops, stop off at the post office and pop in to see a friend then why not do it all in one go?

Running a car can be expensive but it doesn’t have to make too much of a hole in your pocket. Try following these tips to help you save a little bit of cash on your car.

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