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Seven ways save money on your car costs

Cars are expensive. Read our seven ways to cut the cost of owning a car and start putting your money to better use.

Amanda Grace Wall
Amanda Grace Wall

Cars may just be inanimate machines invented to get you from A to B, but that doesn’t mean you take the decision to own one lightly. Like some sort of mechanical pet, cars need looking after; they’re constantly guzzling fuel on the go, need fixing when broken and of course they get old!

It all costs money.

On average, maintenance, fuel, insurance, registration and depreciation can mean that the average cost of owning a car is $100 to $350 per week, depending on the vehicle.

But fear not; here are a few things you can do to save money by cutting the cost of owning a vehicle and claw back a few extra dollars.

Save on fuel

Did you know Aussies spend an average of $143.54 per month on fuel? That’s over $1,700 a year! These tips will put you on track to get maximum bang for your petrol buck.

  • Maintain your vehicle’s recommended tyre pressure (your car’s manual will tell you what it should be). Underinflated tyres increase the friction between road and wheel, also known as ‘drag’. Keeping tyres inflated at the recommended pressure can increase fuel mileage by up to 3%.
  • Clear out the boot! If you’re one for carrying around unnecessary clutter, it’s time to wise-up; a heavy load will be a drain on your fuel tank. On average, fuel consumption increases by 2% for every extra 50kg.
  • You can ditch the premium fuel. Double-check the manual to find out whether premium is actually required, but the chances are, unless you have a high-performance engine, you won’t really experience the benefits of paying top dollar for petrol.

Consider buying an older vehicle

It’s easy to become seduced by a shiny new car in the showroom, but consider this: new cars lose their value a lot faster. As a general rule, new cars lose as much as 20% of their value in the first year and will be worth only 10% of their original value after 10 years. Imagine that!

Nab a great deal on a well-maintained, older car and you’ll stand a better chance of getting more of your money back on resale.

Find the right insurance deal

We all hope we’ll never have to use insurance, but it’s still an essential for all car owners. The average driver in Sydney spends $30 per week on car insurance so here are a few ways to bring down those premiums.

  • Find out whether you’re still getting the best deal. Make the most of comparison sites and shop around.
  • If you’re a careful driver and haven’t made any previous claims, consider increasing your excess, which will result in lower premiums.
  • Don’t pay for your car to sit in the driveway. If you drive infrequently and travel shorter than average distances, it may be possible to lower your premiums by finding a provider that offers a drive-less-pay-less policy.
  • Can you make do without the gleam and shine? Newer cars and cars with modifications and enhanced performance attract higher premiums while older, cheaper cars will also be cheaper to insure.
  • If you have other insurance policies, such as home and contents, it may be possible to save up to 25% by bundling your policies together with the same insurer.

Repay your car-loan as fast as you can

It’s always best to avoid taking out a loan where possible. With interest rates creeping over 9% per annum, you’ll end up paying far more for your vehicle than its true value.

If finance is a necessary evil, then consider taking advantage of ultra-low available through your mortgage. With home loan interest rates at a record low, accessing any available redraw or consolidating your debt into one loan could make sense.

Save on parking

If you drive to work and have a permanent car park but are currently working from home, even if part-time, consider cancelling it. When it comes time to return to work, look around for a better deal even if it means an extra 5-10-minute walk.

Make life easy with maintenance

You know how it goes: left unchecked one problem leads to another, a small issue leads to a bigger issue, and so on. Here are some things to look out for to ensure you don’t let the maintenance slip on your car.

  • Check the air filters regularly to keep the engine in top notch condition.
  • Carry out minor repairs yourself such as replacing wiper blades and addressing any rust. If you catch a minor issue early you can avoid a bigger problem – and bill – later on.
  • Consult your manual and change the oil according to manufacturer recommendations. Failure to keep an eye on the oil could kill the engine altogether.

Get cheap car parts online

Online shopping isn’t just for clothes or electronics. You can buy just about anything online, including car parts! Usually these parts will be a fraction of the cost of buying from a traditional supplier or through your mechanic, so if you can make real savings with some basic DIY auto skills.

Websites like Sparesbox and Automotive Superstore sell everything from brake pads to indicator globes and car cleaning products, while Tyroola sells tyres from a range of brands and delivers them to your door or to a local fitting centre.

Share your vehicle!

The sharing economy is here to stay and it’s brought a whole host of money-making opportunities with it. Car sharing is definitely one of them.

Rent your car out with Uber Carshare and you could be making money from your car when it might otherwise be sitting idle.

It’s simple enough – car sharing allows other drivers to book and use your vehicle at the rate you set. The average car earns around $3,500 a year. That'll go a long way towards getting your car paying for itself!

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