We’re busy people. Jobs, kids, personal goals – a lot of things keep us occupied. And since we can only accomplish so much in a day, we prioritise or simply just let a few things slide.
Regular car maintenance and repairs are some of the things that we forget to add our to-do lists. In fact, we don’t think much about the vehicle we drive until it conks on us.
What if I told you that these bad habits and mistakes end up costing you more in the long run?
I did some research, had a chat with customers, and crunched the numbers to come up with the top 8 car money saving tips to save $3,025 per car per year.
1. DRIVE LIKE A CHAUFFEUR, NOT A TAXI DRIVER: $765
Those with lead feet pay more for fuel, tyres, brakes and car servicing. Every time you accelerate, your car burns fuel. The more you accelerate, the more fuel you burn and the heavier you need to brake. Reduce maintenance costs conservatively by at least 20% by accelerating slowly and braking less. For the average car owner, that’s $350 in fuel per year. You’ll also get roughly an extra year from your tyres ($200), six months from your brakes ($115) and you won’t have to bring your car in early for a service ($100).
2. LEARN HOW TO CORRECTLY INFLATE YOUR TYRES: $420
Research and opinions vary greatly on this, so much so it was the subject of a MythBusters experiment. While all agree that underinflated tyres costs money, the question is how much? If you take the results of the MythBusters experiment, a tyre that is underinflated by 15% (or 4.2psi for the average car), will use 1.2% extra fuel. A car that is overinflated by 15% (or 4.2psi), will save 6.2% on fuel. In practical terms, if the minimum recommended psi for your cars tyres is 28, running them at 24 will cost an additional $37 per year on average. Running them on 32 will save on average $193. Elvio recommends pumping tyres to 5-10psi above what is recommended, remembering that the recommended is the minimum pressure. Filling your tyres 5-10psi higher (or 38 in this experiment) you would save around $420 per year.
3. SAY GOODBYE TO THE DEALERSHIP: $350
Dealerships want you to believe they know your car best and taking it anywhere else will void the warranty. That’s rubbish. According to the law, the warranty will remain intact even if your car is serviced by a licensed repairer following your logbook schedule. Even if you have fixed-price servicing, or some other incentive, it’s worth shopping around prior to your next service. Remember, it’s not just the service you’ll be up for—over time you will need parts replaced and possibly some repairs, which often fall outside fixed or ‘free’ schedules that the dealers put you on. For example, a basic service package for a Mazda 3 costs around $280 at Mazda. The average mechanic will charge approximately $200. The price difference increases dramatically when you factor in major services and upsells.
4. SHOP AROUND ON YOUR INSURANCE, RATHER THAN AUTO-RENEWING: $350
We’ve all been through the rigmarole of comparing insurance policies, premiums, and payment options. Many pay by the month because it seemed cheaper at the time. Since then, you’ve possibly just let it renew each year as it’s all too hard to shop around again. But did you know that this could be costing you hundreds per year? According to Canstar, the following tips will save the average person approximately $350 per year on their car insurance.
Instead of auto-renewing your car insurance, shop around
If your car is a few years older than on your last insurance quote, you may be surprised what others are willing to offer.
Vary your excess
If you’re a safe driver and not prone to many incidents, reducing excess costs will reduce your annual premium.
Purchase insurance online
Many insurers offer a discount for self-serving your policy online — as much as $50 in many cases.
Package your insurance
Insurers also offer discounts if you hold more than one policy (such as home and contents) with them.
Don’t pay monthly
Most insurers will charge a little extra for the administration of billing monthly, rather than annually. It may not seem like much, but all of this adds up to real savings. So plan ahead and save.
Restrict your drivers to over 25
Since drivers under 25 are perceived to be at greater risk, many insurers will offer a further discount if you declare that no one under 25 years of age will be driving your vehicle.
Choose your extras carefully
All those little extras, like one excess-free windscreen repair, hire cars and towing, are great options, but they also add up. Consider which options you really think you’re likely to save on the premium.
Take advantage of your parents’ insurance
A little-known fact is if you previously had your name on your parents’ policy and it’s now time to take out your own, many insurers will recognise your years of no claim bonus and add that onto your new policy—potentially saving you plenty—so be sure to ask.
Add some security
Fitting an alarm, immobiliser or always parking in a garage all help reduce the risk of theft or vandalism and hence reducing risks and premium costs.
5. REVIEW YOUR CAR FINANCE: $320
Are you able to pay off a little more on your car loan each month? Can you consolidate your car debt into your mortgage at a lower interest rate? On a typical $30,000 car loan at 8.5% interest, over five years, if you paid an extra $100 per month you’d save $1,600 and 13 months of the life of the loan, or $320 per year. If you’re able to take a $20,000 balance from an 8.5% car loan to a 4.9% mortgage and keep up the same monthly repayments over a five-year term, you’ll save $2,000 in interest, or $400 per year.
6. FIND A MORE CONVENIENT WAY TO SERVICE YOUR CAR: $300
Normally, you take your car to a dealership or workshop early in the morning to get it serviced. You then need to fnd a way to get to work or back home. You would then repeat this at the end of the day to pick up your car. Occasionally your mechanic may call and tell you the car requires extra work so they need the car another day. If you make a living from your vehicle then this will cost you a day or two in wages. For everyone else, there’s a time and possibly transport cost. This is one of the main reasons why many car owners are now switching to a mobile mechanics service. If a mechanic can come to your home or work, you have little or no downtime. So instead of eight hours of the road and out of the office, a service may take 1–2 hours while you’re sitting at your desk. Quantifying this will differ greatly. A day lost in wages for the average Australian earning $77,000 is $220, plus a return taxis fare of $80 and you’ve suddenly lost $300.
7. LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD: $270
An excess weight of 100kgs in your car equates to approximately 4% extra in fuel, or $70 for the average Australian. It also adds extra load to your tyres and brakes, meaning they’re likely need to be replaced sooner. Replacing your brakes and tyres just six months earlier than necessary equates to an extra $200 for the average sedan over a typical five-year life of a vehicle. So keep the golf clubs, gym gear and pram at home when you don’t need them.
8. STICK TO YOUR SERVICE SCHEDULE: $250
This could easily be the number one money waster for many! But I’ve considered the minimum cost here. During tough times, it’s a common temptation to extend a car service in an attempt to save money. But this is a false economy. The worst cars we see—the ones with the biggest repair bills—are almost always the ones that have not been regularly serviced and maintained. Some of the potential problems include water pump failure, oil leaks and seized camshafts. At the serious end of the scale you could be up for a new engine, costing you thousands. But even delaying just a couple of months or skipping one service could leave you with one of the more common problems: oil sludge build-up. Oil sludge is like a gel that sticks to your engine parts and blocks oil passages, preventing the normal flow of oil throughout the engine. This can cause damage to a number of parts in your engine costing you hundreds, even thousands. The more you drive, the less you can afford to skimp.
These car money saving tips don’t take a lot of time and energy but will ultimately save you thousands per year.