Owning a car brings freedom and mobility! But unfortunately, it also adds to your list of expenses. The good news is that although fuel, maintenance and services are part of car ownership, running costs can be reduced effectively by adopting a few good habits.
So says Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa, who launched the Datsun GO in 2014 – it became the best-selling new car for first-time car buyers, and was named the most affordable new car by ‘parts basket’ in the most recent Kinsey Report.
Mr Fenner points out that the more conservatively you drive, the more you can reduce costs, and have money available for some of the other fun things you would like to do. What is most important, he says, is that service schedules should be met as they ensure that oil changes, changing of air and oil filters, amongst other scheduled tasks are essential to keep a car’s engine and other functions moving smoothly throughout a vehicle’s life.
“Besides maintaining a vehicle correctly there are 10 Top Tips that you can follow when it comes to saving money on the road,” says Mr Fenner. These are:
1. Keeping tyres at the right pressure. Over-inflated or under-inflated tyres lead to uneven wear, which means that tread life is shortened and tyres have to be replaced sooner than would otherwise be the case. In addition, correctly inflated tyres reduce fuel consumption and bring down the biggest cost of running a car.
2. When changing tyres, it pays to ensure that all have the same tread pattern. Having ‘odd’ tyres with different treads can influence road holding, safety and running costs.
3. Driving smoothly and sticking to speed limits. Fast take-offs from traffic lights and weaving through traffic at higher speeds results in increased fuel consumption. In the long run, driving wildly may save you a few minutes but the penalty will be felt in your pocket.
4. Control use of the car’s air conditioner. Although an air conditioning system is great for keeping cool and fights driver fatigue on blistering summer days, it does impact on fuel consumption. Depending on the size of your car’s engine and the power used by the air conditioner, constant use can push up fuel consumption by between 13% and 21% say the experts.
5. Keeping windows closed while you drive. This ensures that wind resistance is not increased and savings in fuel costs are the result. The higher the speed with windows open, the more fuel used.
6. Being aware that roof racks and other additions to a car increase wind drag. Unless you are using a roof rack, leaving it on the car permanently will result in increased running costs.
7. Minimising vehicle idling. Gone are the days when engines needed to idle for several minutes to reach the point where they were ‘warm’. Today’s cars do not require this step as they warm up quickly and reach operating temperatures easily.
8. Driving in the highest gear possible. Driving at high speeds guzzles fuel. Changing gear when the appropriate rev levels are reached means smoother driving. The sooner you get into top gear, the less stress on the engine and the more money you will save.
9. Avoiding short journeys. Driving short distances are less fuel efficient than long journeys. Every time a vehicle is turned on, fuel is used.
10. Knowing what you are buying. Taking time to examine the ‘hidden costs’ when buying a car can save you significant amounts of money. For example, a car may have a low price tag, but parts for services could be expensive. In the event of an accident, the replacement of body panels’ costs could be steep. These costs are hidden as they impact on insurance rates and people often take out insurance without thinking about enquiring what rates are for different vehicles in a similar category.
“At Datsun, we understand the need for young motorists to look at the most budget friendly options to break through to independent motoring. We encourage first time car buyers to consider these tips so that they can keep motoring costs within an affordable range,” says Mr Fenner.