For most of us, a car is our second biggest expense after the cost of our home. New or used, we put a lot on the line financially for the convenience. Of course, it comes as no surprise that the bills don’t stop when you pay off your new or used vehicle. According to the Canadian Automobile Association and Globe Drive Research, the average cost to operate a car is a whopping $10,456.00 per year. We all hope we never get stuck buying a lemon or running into the kinds of repairs that can put an instant damper on your bank account. Call it karma or luck, but some of that is out of your hands, even when they’re firmly on the wheel. Before you run for a bus, know that there are some things that you can control, like your car expenses. Here are five smart moves you can make to help keep your car on the road, with your money parked safely in your wallet.
1. Slow Down. The faster you go, the more gas you use. Driving over the speed limit decreases the fuel economy of your car. When you speed, you get fewer kilometres to the litre. Do you see that flashing red light in your rear view mirror? Guess what? That speeding ticket remains on your driving abstract/record for three years after you pay it or you’re convicted in court. It’s also accessible to your insurance company. Down the road, that ticket could cost you a lot more.
Tip: Plan ahead, lose the lead foot, and relax. Leave 10 minutes early for where you’re going, so you don’t feel pressured to drive over the speed limit.
2. Take great care of your car. Basic car maintenance like regular oil checks, help your car run more efficiently. Some car maintenance, like replacing the air filters, may feel like a cash-grab but they can help prolong your vehicle’s engine life. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. Some people believe that because a vehicle is leased they don’t need to take good care of it. You may not think so today, but you could decide that you want to buy your car at the end of your lease. In fact, you may never find another deal that’s as good as the purchase price of your leased vehicle, especially if you’re retired or on a budget. So take good care of your car in order to drive your savings over the long run.
Tip: With young kids, or a hectic schedule, avoid the temptation to treat the inside of your vehicle like a dumpster. You’ll get a better resale price if you maintain it with pride of ownership, inside and out.
3. Think about driving electric. Electric vehicles (EVs) are more affordable to drive and maintain than their gas-guzzling cousins. While they cost more to buy, in the long run they could be a more affordable choice. Electricity costs less than gas. EV’s don’t have lots of moving parts like a gas engine. This means no oil changes, mufflers or exhaust systems to maintain, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars a year. EV’s are, for the most part, compact and not nearly as powerful as gas cars or even hybrids. This tends to make them safer to drive. The benefits of driving an EV could add up to offset the higher purchase price.1
4. Properly inflated tires can save you money. There’s a direct link between fuel efficiency and tire pressure. Keeping your tires filled improves gas mileage and decreases tire wear. For every 3.0 psi (Pounds per Square Inch) below the recommended tire pressure, your fuel efficiency is reduced by 1%. Driving a vehicle with tires that are under-inflated by 8 psi for example, can increase fuel consumption by 4%. It also can reduce the life of the tires by 10,000 km.
Tip: Temperature also has an impact on tire pressure and cold weather can cause it to fluctuate. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month.2
5. Check with your Insurance Broker How often do you think about your car insurance? Is it time to check in with your broker? You may have forgotten that your car insurance premiums are based on your driving your car for work. You changed jobs, and now you work from home and don’t commute. Nobody wants to pay for something they’re not using. Driving your vehicle for pleasure only, rather than commuting to work, could save you money. Other options for lowering the cost of your car insurance include increasing the deductible to decrease your monthly premiums. If your car is over 10 years old, contact your broker to discuss your coverages. They may have suggestions that could help lower your premium.. Keep your insurance broker in the loop whenever there’s a change in your driving status.
Tip: Before buying a new car, do your research. Shop around for the best car insurance quotes. Visit our website to see how much you could save. You might even find that some cars have lower cost insurance ratings. That’s like money in the bank.
Whether you’re saving for the future, or living on a fixed income, paying attention to what you’re spending on your monthly car expenses is the smart way to go. Nobody likes to spend unnecessary money on a car. The money you save can add up, maybe even helping to pay for that winter rental in Florida or a family dinner in a fancy restaurant.
1Electric Vehicle Maintenance Costs vs Combustion Engine