The best ways to save on your car costs

New or used, practical or sporty, it doesn’t matter which car you choose, the related costs will add up over time. Unpredictable petrol prices, registration costs, servicing fees and maintenance – running a car is expensive.

But for many of us, running a car is a necessity. Here’s how to lighten the load of your car costs.

Check your tyre pressure
The air pressure in your tyres supports the entire weight of your car. Not only does maintaining the correct tyre pressure help to keep you and other road users safe, but it also improves vehicle handling and decreases fuel costs.

According to NAB, under or over-inflated tyres use up to 6 per cent more petrol. They will also wear unevenly and won’t last as long.

Regular tyre maintenance such as rotation, alignment and inspections can extend the life of your tyres, so you won’t have to replace them as often.

Rent out your car to help cover costs
Services such as Car Next Door allow you to rent your car to other people when you aren’t using it.

Once you’ve set up a profile, you allocate the times and dates your car is available for someone to borrow.

The average annual income for casual sharing is $3396 and your car is covered by comprehensive insurance and roadside during bookings.

Read: What your car costs – the surprising costs of driving a ute or SUV

Carpool for events
When you’re heading for a day out, make a plan to carpool with other attendees. You’ll save on petrol, the wear on your car and the hassle of paid parking. Just make sure to offer to drive the next time.

If you and your partner are going out at the same time, ask to be dropped off and then take public transport home.

Sensible driving
This one might seem obvious, but many people don’t realise the downsides of erratic driving.

Not only are you more likely to have an accident but being heavy on the pedals (stopping and starting aggressively) uses more petrol.

Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front and aim for smooth acceleration and braking.

Shop around for insurance
With so many insurance businesses out there, it can pay to shop around. Sometimes, companies will sting you with the ‘loyalty tax’ if you’ve been a long-time member and haven’t bothered to compare rates.

Avoid the carwash
Sure, going through the carwash can be fun, but you can achieve the same clean with a bucket and sponge at home. Get your car squeaky-clean for free and get a bit of exercise while you’re at it.

Read: Biggest car washing mistakes

Find an honest mechanic
Ask for recommendations from friends and family before trying a new mechanic. If no-one has a suitable suggestion for you and you’re not sure if you can trust online reviews, test a local mechanic with a small job to see if you can trust them with something more major.

Handle small repairs yourself
If you’re confident enough, or have a friend who can show you the ropes, complete smaller jobs yourself. Things such as oil changes, tyre rotations and air-filter replacements don’t always require a professional to do them.

If you’re not sure, it’s best to get a mechanic to do it. But look out for basic car know-how courses at a local community college so you can learn for the future.

Remove any unnecessary weight
Think of your car like your body – would you carry a backpack if you didn’t need to? Of course not, you’d be expending unnecessary energy.

Same with your car, the more weight it carries, the more fuel it uses and the more wear and tear it accumulates. Give it a good clear out periodically, you might be surprised at the clutter it can hold.

Read: Senior drivers buy cars

Be smart about petrol
Unless you have an electric vehicle, petrol costs will make up a major part of your car expenses.

Be smart about where you buy it and how you pay for it. Look around for the cheapest prices, but factor in the price of driving there.

Many grocery stores or credit cards offer loyalty points that can be used at certain petrol stations.

What’s the biggest expense of your car? How do you keep costs down? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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