For most Australians, car ownership is a must. It enables us to travel about freely and commute to work, providing a sense of freedom that few can do without. However, for most of us, especially families with a few cars in the garage, car ownership and the associated financial burden it brings is an unavoidable expense.
As recently reported, the true cost of car ownership, including fuel, insurance and vehicle depreciation, varies from model to model. The Mitsubishi Mirage was found to be the cheapest new car to own at $114 per week, and the Tesla range the most expensive vehicles at around $500 per week. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was found to be the most affordable mid-size family SUV at a more reasonable $192 a week.
There’s no denying that cars are costly beasts, however, there are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of car ownership.
If you opt for a comprehensive car insurance policy, you will find that many insurers offer a reduced premium if you restrict the people that drive it – for example, people under 25. You can also reduce your premium if you increase your at-fault excess, which is only payable if you are at fault in an accident.
Don’t forget to shop about when your policy is due for renewal, as you may find a better deal elsewhere.
Many of us might not think about what’s rolling around in the boot, however, excess weight will affect your car’s fuel consumption, so remove any unnecessary heavy items. This will improve fuel economy and save you money at the pump.
Also, take note that roof racks and roof-mounted storage pods can also impact your car’s fuel efficiency. If you don’t use them often, consider storing them in the garage until they’re needed.
Many car owners overlook the need to check the tyre pressure regularly, however, doing so may not only be costing you money; it may also be impacting your car’s safety.
When a car’s tyres are not sufficiently inflated, the wheels do not roll as they should, which means your car needs to use more gas to climb that hill! What’s more, underinflated tyres wear unevenly, so you will also need to replace your tyres sooner, further increasing the costs of car ownership.
Most importantly, if the tyres are not properly inflated the car’s handling and cornering is also impaired, which can impact the car’s safety.
A popular feature on many newer cars is a tyre monitoring system that alerts you if your tyre pressure is too low. That’s something to consider if you’re in the market for a new set of wheels!
Keep up with the car’s servicing
It’s also important to keep up to date with your car’s servicing schedule. Depending on your car’s age and its logbook servicing requirements, putting off a service can cost you significant coin.
Not only does an unserviced car generally use more fuel, but there’s also an increased risk of something going wrong mechanically, which can be a very expensive exercise.
What’s more, as regular servicing helps to identify and resolve safety issues, failing to keep up with your car’s servicing requirements means you could also be putting your family in danger.
Putting your car to use
While not for everyone, using your car to generate income is another way you can reduce the overall cost of owning a car. Some car owners now drive for ridesharing companies like Uber in their spare time to bring in extra cash, while others rent out their car when they don’t need it.
Companies like Drive My Car provide an online platform that allows car owners to rent out their vehicles to licensed drivers for an agreed fee, with the company charging a fee from the proceeds.
With the rise of the ‘sharing economy’, this could prove a popular way to put our cars to use and reduce the costs of car ownership.