With the start of a new year, it’s a great time to review finances and look at ways to save. One thing we don't often consider is how much we spend on our cars.
Buying a car is a huge financial commitment but there are many simple things you can do to make the most of what you spend while driving around.
We’ve pulled together some easy car hacks to help you save more this year.
Clean out the car - save $30
If you like keeping spare shoes and clothes in the boot, you might not realise it could be costing you.
One of the easiest ways to help improve fuel efficiency and save money is to remove any unnecessary weight from your car.
It is estimated that for every 22 kilograms of weight, your car loses up to one per cent in fuel efficiency - so cleaning out the car could potentially save you over $30 per year. Keep the items you need, like a spare tyre and a first aid kit, and get rid of everything else.
Slow down - save $805
One of the simplest ways to save money when driving is to slow down. Studies show you can reduce your fuel consumption by as much as 25 per cent when taking 20 kilometres per hour off your speed. Speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking are the quickest ways to waste petrol.
Research has also found that aggressive driving can lower your fuel usage by 33 per cent at highway speeds and by five per cent around town.
Experts suggest you can efficiently maintain high speeds by slightly altering your technique. Some tips include avoiding over-revving and stamping on the brakes then accelerating, as well as ensuring your tyres are always pumped. Following these tips means you could have an extra $805 in your pocket each year.
Car subscriptions - save thousands
The latest figures from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show that Australian car sales in 2019 were the lowest they’ve been in eight years. This indicates that Aussies are struggling to afford a car, but also highlights a shift in how people are choosing to ‘own’ a car. Many drivers are moving towards more flexible alternatives to traditional car ownership, including car-sharing and car subscriptions. Car subscriptions allow you to drive any car you want by making weekly payments, like a phone bill without the long lock-in contract.
For example, a Kia Cerato will involve an approximate $258 weekly payment with a car loan, while subscription will cost $99 with HelloCars.
You can now also head to your local dealer to subscribe, with online platform Blinker.com.au allowing car dealerships around Australia to offer subscription services. With subscriptions, you don’t need to pay for general car expenses including insurance, registration or servicing either - this could save you over a hundred dollars each week, adding up to thousands every year.
Take advantage of technology - save $500
Technology provides us with instant access to an endless amount of information, which is useful when trying to cut costs. There are easy to download apps like MyNRMA Fuel App Australia which can find the lowest petrol price in your area. According to the NRMA, using the app can help Aussies save up $500 per year. But you need to be careful with these - sometimes you can waste more money on fuel driving further to get the cheapest price.
Other free online tools include car loan and insurance calculators which help you compare and find costs to best fit your budget. There are also websites that compare car prices, meaning you can find the most affordable price for the car you want. For those wanting to sell, there are online calculators that can value your car in a matter of minutes.
Be proactive with car maintenance
Getting your car serviced can be expensive, but leaving the problem to the last minute can often end up costing more in the long run. As a general rule, you should get your car professionally serviced every six months or 10,000 kilometres.
Even if you don’t drive a lot, it’s important to get a service. Most of the fluids in your car are susceptible to moisture and need to be regularly examined and replaced by a mechanic. Cars that haven’t been serviced regularly can often sell for $3,000 less than those that are routinely examined by a professional.
There are also some easy maintenance jobs you can do yourself to make sure you don’t leave the mechanic with an empty wallet. Experts suggest you should keep your car properly tuned, check your coolant levels, change the oil and oil filter according to your car manual and check the air filter monthly.
Paul Higgins is the co-founder at HelloCars.
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