Monday, March 17, 2014

25 Tips For Keeping Your Driving Costs Down

One of the big shocks to our budget when Husband changed jobs a few years back was the introduction of a second car's running costs. He had always had a company car, and we took it for granted, little realising what a big difference it was going to make.

Did you know it costs an average of $11,000 per year to operate a medium sized car? $11,000! More if you run your car for over 15,000 kilometers per year. With such an enormous chunk of our salary going towards our travel, we have become pretty good at keeping our driving costs down these days. Here are our tips for running those cars on a shoestring budget:
  1. Some Australian states or territories offer good behaviour discounts when renewing your license. For example, in NSW, a driver with a perfect 5 year record may qualify for a 50% discount! Likewise, drivers under 26 in Victoria may quality for a 25% discount if they have a 3 year good record. See your local driving authority for more information
  2. Don't speed! I know that's a little simplistic, but doing 95 km's per hour in an 80km zone on a standard 30 minute drive will only save you about 4.5 minutes. Is that really worth $248? (NSW standard fine for over 10km but under 20km for an unrestricted driver).
  3. Don't have accidents. Again, simplistic, but the drivers I know who have the most accidents also often have an attitude of not taking precautions against other people's bad driving. There is an assumption that if someone else drives poorly causing you to collide with them, it will be their fault. WRONG. Often if you are the car that crashes into the other, you will be found at fault and have to pay excess's or even car repair costs.
  4. Know the best petrol for your car. My car goes that much further on premium unleaded, so it makes no sense for me to fill up on E10 only to run out earlier in the week.
  5. Fill up on petrol repeatedly while prices are down. The days of a weekly predictable petrol cycle are gone. Don't wait till you are running on empty, pull in every 1-2 days while petrol prices are low, when prices rise, you will have a full tank to ride out the price hike.
  6. If prices have been up for a few days and you are running low, only tip in $10-$15 if it looks like prices will drop shortly then fill up in a day or so when prices drop again.
  7. Use and abuse the petrol voucher scheme's. Coles and Woolworths offer their standard petrol discounts, but did you know that IGA will also refund you 4 cents per litre on your petrol costs if you spend over $30 and produce your petrol receipt from any source? The savvy shopper could double dip by shopping at Woolworths/Coles, filling up and claiming their discount, then taking the receipt to IGA for your next shop.
  8. A perfect driving record can also mean a big saving on your green slip! One insurer was $200 cheaper than the others when we completed a comparison quote due to the absence of any demerits.
  9. If you are a dual driver household, quote your insurance from multiple angles. We found it cheaper to have policies in my name as a female driver over 30 with a good record with Husband as a nominated regular driver than to do it the other way round. Depending on the demographic, this can mean a big saving. Consider the long term impact against any no claim bonus's for the policy holder first.
  10. Restrict your policies according to your needs. For example, increase your excess for young drivers if there will not be a young driver and enjoy a small premium reduction.
  11. Consider how well a car will hold it's value, how much petrol it will chew, and how expensive parts will be when choosing a new car. No point buying it because it's pretty! If it will cost you a bomb to run it's probably not the car for a budget conscious household.
  12. Enquire with your insurer about long term policy discounts. Our roadside service provider offers  5% discount for a 3 year policy and a 10% discount on a 5 year policy. This also effectively freezes the premium so that you won't be affected by increases over that period.
  13. Plan ahead for parking! Do not leave the house without investigating the cheapest pay for parking options to be had at your destination so that if free street parking is not available you know your options.
  14. Do NOT ever take the easy way out and parking in a 15 minute street parking spot for 2 hours. The $75+ fine is not worth it. The odds are against you.
  15. If you are paying high CBD parking fee's, consider leasing a spot off a resident. Residents without cars, or who's cars will be with them elsewhere during the day will often advertise to sublet their spots for an amount that may be less than you are paying for parking in the main lots.
  16. Car pool whenever possible! It is worth an extra 10 minutes on your trip each way if someone else covers the parking cost while you cover the petrol. Advertise on your employee network if you don't have a like minded friend living nearby.
  17. If you can't avoid parking lot fee's altogether, ask if there are discounts for prepaying for your parking by the week or month.
  18. Reader Tip: Drive using Cruise Control to help with fuel economy and avoid fines ~ Laurel B.
  19. Maintain your car regularly. Lots of small amounts being spent on your car will hopefully keep the breakdowns and high cost repairs to a minimum.
  20. Take out store memberships with car maintenance supply stores. If we buy any parts, oil, servicing equipment/resources, and anything we purchase goes on sale within 2 weeks, we get credited back the difference. Makes it easier to purchase knowing you have the best price within a reasonable window!
  21. Negotiate for a better price. There is always wiggle room in the price set for new and used cars, especially when buying through a car yard or dealership. 
  22. Once the price negotiation is done, ask what else your salesman can do for you. Seat covers, servicing, roadside service, upgrades, there are plenty of options your salesman might have at his fingertips that you won't get if you don't ask! But be nice, no-one wants to help you out if you are their most annoying customer of the day.
  23. Investigate the warranty available if you purchase a new car. Some will be based on the age of the car, others may be based on the km's. Know your planned usage and what kind of warranty will be best for you as it can make a big different on how much money you have to spend if something goes wrong.
  24. Pensioner or senior discounts are often available on registration, licensing, and insurances. If you qualify for a discount, make sure you make the most of it.
  25. Cash is king! If you can save up cash for a car you can put aside the money you would have spent on repayments to save towards the next car. You will be able to upgrade much more quickly this way and will not pay hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars in interest on an asset that usually doesn't appreciate!
If you have a tip for keeping your road costs down, share with us on Facebook or in the comments below. I'd love to hear them!

This post was brought to you in partnership with John Hughes who understand that driving can be expensive! For 33 consecutive years,  John Hughes Mitsubishi have been in the top 3 biggest selling Mitsubishi sale dealerships in Australia. With a focus on quality customer service and a passion for striving towards excellence, these are the people to talk to about getting the right car for your family.

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