studying diligently and calmly cramming in the exact fashion I tell my students not to for my National Board certification test tomorrow, I have a fun guest post from Giles Kirkland. Giles is a professional mechanic and dedicated money saver. Take it away, Giles!
For many people in today’s world, a car is a necessity. Often, it’s for getting to and from work, while at other times it serves to do school runs and family trips. In short, there are plenty of people who can’t afford to be without their car, even when the car offers nothing but large, regular expenses.
When you think about it, a car has plenty of expenses outside the initial selling price. Once you drive away with it, you’re looking at fuel costs, repairs, servicing, tests and car insurance. If you’re not careful these can easily catch up over the year. So how do you know if your expenses are too high? Here are 5 signs you’re spending too much on your car:
Sometimes the best insurance policy doesn’t actually offer the benefits you might think. The best way to determine this is to calculate the cost of repairing your car (get some rough quotes from a couple of garages) versus the cost of replacing it.
Is it cheaper to replace? If so, your first party insurance might not be doing you any favours, especially when you consider how much excess you would have to pay anyway. Negotiate down to a cheaper third party (fire & theft) policy if this is the case.
Similarly, is your insurance company giving you a high premium because of the statistical group you belong in? If a similar car can be ensured by an older driver, then chances are, this is possible. Ask about smartbox insurance policies – these telemetric devices record data on how you drive, rewarding safe motorists with better rates.
Similarly, cars need maintenance once in awhile and this is where many people think it’s okay to spend more. Again, you should contrast the cost of repairs against the cost of a replacement vehicle. Once your annual maintenance exceeds a better car, this should confirm that, yes, you are spending too much on your car.
Of course, if you want to bring this down, you can look at doing some basic maintenance (air filters, oil changes, light bulb changes) yourself, saving a hefty service fee. The internet is full of car maintenance guides and everything you make the effort to learn will save you money.
Speaking of maintenance, what about the cost of new parts themselves? Depending on where you go, you may be spending too much. Manufacturer’s parts, for instance, don’t always mean better quality. In fact, shopping around might find a better aftermarket part for a lower rate and potentially a year’s warranty.
As for the parts you do have, regular servicing can ensure they meet their regular lifespan. You can also consider recycling parts where possible, such as having your car tyres retreaded. Similarly, rotating the front and rear wheel tyres around will ensure they last longer, as one pair usually wears down quicker than the other. This way, you’re not spending money where a little time and effort could save you some larger troubles.
Tests and Repairs
While home maintenance and servicing are always useful, there will be times when you need to take it into a garage for that professional touch. Garages, however, are like any other business. If you’re not shopping around and comparing the market, how can you be sure you’re getting the best value for money?
First of all, many people feel the pressure to buy parts after their car fails a test. Shopping around for both the parts and the service fees might reveal this is cheaper elsewhere and you’re not obligated to stay with the garage you’re at. If you can, try and find somewhere that allows you to bring your own car parts. This way, you can get the cheapest (buying online, or from a specialist) option and only pay the service fees at the garage.
Finally, fuel costs are the one area which generally correlates to the amount of driving you do. The more you use your car, the more this expense goes up. Of course, there are a number of ways to cut down how much you drive, such as walking, carpooling or public transport, but let’s assume you only drive when you have to. In these cases, how can you improve fuel costs?
Aside from shopping around for fuel (especially if you combine with your regular supermarket shopping), many drivers are familiar with economic driving. Coming to a natural stop, rather than aggressively braking, not leaving the motor running in idle and trying to hit an ideal speed of around 55 mph (for the best engine efficiency) are all well-known techniques. Try driving like this for a month and see if there’s a noticeable change in how often you refill the tank.
Similarly, you can improve your car itself to be more efficient. Don’t carry excess weight and remove roof racks when not in use. These both slow you down by making the car heavier and less aerodynamic, respectively. You can also consider economic tyres, designed to be fuel efficient thanks to a low rolling resistance.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to identify if you’re spending too much of your hard-earned income on running your car. Sure, it might not seem like much here and there, but these small monthly and annual costs add up over time. The prudent thing to do is cut these costs as much as possible and enjoy the savings – without having to give the car up.
So Tell Me…How do you cut down on your vehicle’s expenses?