A look at the five things you have to know about cars to save money. Previously we have discussed saving money on running your car, today we look at the five priority items that will help you save money on your car.
How to drive
Sounds plain and simple and you would hope a basic level of competence exists for all drivers, but I’m sure we’ve all been behind the wheel at times thinking “where on earth did that guy/gal get her licence?” For nearly 15 years my mother could not for the life of her reverse parallel park. I remember as a child in the backseat of the wagon hearing horns blaring as she spent 15 minutes trying to get her tail end into a car park.
There are advanced driver training courses held in each state as well as lessons available from private companies. The cheapest option however is to go back to basics, take the car out to a quiet street or car park and practice. Just 30 minutes a week of practice could avoid an accident in future. So if you’re hearing more horns than Brisbane wharf at 6am, then maybe it’s time to brush up your skills?
Understanding how to drive properly will result in less tickets, less anger when driving and result in a more economical car for you and your family.
The whatsa-ma-callit next to the thing-me-bob is making a thud noise
Ever had a mechanic look at your strangely whilst you try to describe what’s going on with your car? Ever been charged $200 for head light fluid? You might as well have the word ‘sucker’ tattooed on your forehead. I’m not saying you should know exactly how your car functions, but a basic understanding of what parts are called and what they do certainly helps when something goes wrong.
Read your car manual if you have one, or speak to an educated friend who can explain a few basic things under the hood. Your local library should have a range of books on cars and maintenance. Knowing where the oil goes and why it’s important will come in handy in the next part.
Basic home maintenance
If you lack upper body strength like myself, then changing the oil in your car is probably not an option for you because those oil filters are often on tight! Knowing how to check your oil though and top it up when it’s low is essential to keeping your car running. Take a trip to your local Autobarn/Supercheap and compare prices for your car’s grade of oil.
Quite often around father’s day the stores have a sale and this is a great time to stock up.
Can you locate the air filter? This is easily replaceable; just make sure you get the right size for your vehicle. Check the overflow level for the radiator, are you coming into winter? Will it need anti-freeze instead of just coolant? Always make sure you have a supply of this in the garage/shed and check levels regularly. The cost of $10 worth of coolant once every 6 months is far cheaper than a cracked head/ blown gasket/new radiator which start from $500.
Lastly if you are going through more than 1 litre of oil a month, it’s time to question why, this means a trip to the mechanic.
Standing your ground
If your car is leaking oil/ radiator fluid/ transmission fluid your mechanic will investigate why. It might be as simple as replacing a seal or as complicated as replacing a pump.
Before you authorise any repair to be carried out, ask specifically what is wrong with your car. It may be the case that a re-conditioned part will do the job and if that is the case, get the mechanic to ring around for you. Quite often they will get a better deal than someone from the public, so before they do the work on the car, get them to do leg work in getting you the best deal. It is also important at this point to get an estimate of the total cost based on the repairs they have said are necessary.
I used to think my local mechanic was looking after me by checking spark plugs, rotating my tyres and replacing brake pads until I realised I was paying for all of it when all I went in for was an oil change. You are only authorising them to perform the work they have advised is necessary and therefore this is all you are required to pay for, any little extras should be at their cost not yours.
How much is it really costing you?
You’ve bought an older car, because it was only $2,000 and you didn’t have any more money to spend. It’s a good start because the last thing you want to do is get into debt, but how much is an older car costing you in comparison to a newer model? Is it leaded fuel and you’re spending an extra $10 in additive each time you fill up? Is it economical, or are you only getting 300km to a tank and therefore have to fill up more often?
Are you taking it in to the mechanics every second week to get something else replaced? It could work out that buying a $5,000 car could save you more in the long run even with a small personal loan. So shop around, get your potential vehicle inspected by a registered mechanic or NRMA inspector and do your research, www.redbook.com.au gives an anticipated value on second hand cars and has statistics on fuel consumption.