7 Ways to save on your car expenses

7 Ways to save on your car expenses

Last updated on 28th January, 2022 at 10:23 am

As the economic effects of COVID-19 continue to challenge the way in which we navigate our financial planning, finding ways to limit any unnecessary expenses can make a big difference. While your car is likely to be one of your biggest expenses, there are some simple ways to help reduce the costs associated with it. Here are seven ways to save on your car expenses.

#1: Get to know your vehicle

The more you learn about your vehicle, its components, and the amount of maintenance it requires, the greater chance you’ll have of enjoying a smoother, longer-lasting experience of owning it. If the mechanical side of things is unfamiliar territory to you, learning about your car will give you the confidence to make better financial decisions when it comes to servicing, upgrades or repair work. Join reliable online forums and groups associated with your vehicle model where you can ask group members your car-related questions or recommendations.

#2: Limit your time on the road

Reducing the amount of time you spend on the road not only helps you save on fuel, but is better for the general wear and tear of your vehicle, too. Consider carpooling options with colleagues or neighbours as an alternative to your daily transport, and when you’re up for running or walking for those short trips to the shop (if it’s safe to do so), you’ll be surprised at how much you save at the pump.

#3: Re-evaluate your car insurance

According to the Automobile Association (AA), 65-70% of the 12 million cars on South Africa’s roads are uninsured. The AA also notes that being insured – even only a little – is better than not being insured at all. There are many factors that can affect your car insurance premium, but the good news is that there are also many ways to use these to your advantage. Your driving behaviour, security measures, inflation and vehicle depreciation are just some factors that can change over time, and in many cases, lead to vehicle owners being overinsured.

Do you know the retail value of your vehicle? Your car depreciates in value every year, which means you could be overinsured. Use our vehicle value calculator to help you work out the retail value of your car so you can ensure you are adequately covered in terms of short-term insurance.

#4: Adopt good driving habits

The benefits associated with driving wisely and conservatively go beyond cutting fuel costs, and can greatly influence the total amount that you end up spending on the ownership of your car. Bad driving habits, like riding the clutch, braking too hard and aggressive driving can lead to car damage and unwanted repair bills that could be easily avoided by being more conscious of the way you drive.

Sanlam Reality Core, Plus and Health members, can manage their risk and earn tier points by taking their vehicle for an annual inspection at Tiger Wheel & Tyre or Tyres & More. Earning tier points can help you upgrade your tier status, unlocking more savings as a Sanlam Reality member.

If you are a Santam client and a Sanlam Reality member, you can earn 1 000 tier points just for downloading the Santam App, registering and linking your policy.

#5: Scrutinise your vehicle finance plan

In these cash-strapped times, not everyone can afford to purchase a car upfront, and financing a car is an alternative avenue. But it’s also when getting ‘car-smart’ really counts towards bringing down your car expenses. Before committing to any agreements, be very vigilant about the details set out by the finance provider; understand what your monthly repayment amounts will be and for how long, as well as any additional costs, such as balloon payments. The general rule to remember is, the longer your repayment plan is, the more you’ll end up paying at the end.

Not sure if you’re making the right decisions when it comes to vehicle financing? A financial planner can assess your financial situation and help you make decisions to put you on the right track. Book a meeting with one today.

#6: Do your car repair homework

As of 1 July 2021, new vehicle owners who send their vehicles in for a service or repairs by independent providers will no longer have to worry about their warranty being voided. Owners may now service their vehicles at a service centre of their choice. According to Times Live, “the guidelines also state that vehicle manufacturers and approved dealers must allow consumers to fit non-original parts where a specific part’s warranty has expired, without voiding the balance of the motor vehicle’s warranty.”

While opting for an independent provider for your vehicle servicing and repair work can help reduce your bill, make sure you do your homework before selecting the mechanic you send your car to. Get a good idea of how they operate, and ask for a detailed list of all the costs associated with the work they plan to carry out on your vehicle before committing to that provider. Get a second quote or more where possible.

#7: Budget for the unexpected

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s to be prepared for anything. While we may not be able to control the bigger things happening in the world, finding ways to manage our budgets can safeguard our finances against the ripple effect caused by the pandemic. When budgeting for your car, be sure to:

  • Be realistic about your current financial situation. Evaluate your current monthly income and vehicle ownership costs and use the tips above to identify ways in which you could be saving on your car expenses.
  • Not give in to buying a new car if you’re not sure you’ll be able to afford its cost of ownership in the long run.
  • Save a bit of your earnings each month, allocating a percentage of this towards your vehicle budget so that you always have a buffer in the event of an unexpected car expense.

This calculator will help you work out the retail value of your car so you can ensure you have enough cover when it comes to short-term insurance.

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