By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2020
It’s not just a new year, it's a new decade. Maybe your resolution for 2020 is to save for an overseas holiday or a house deposit?
Whatever your goals are, we’ve listed 20 money-saving car hacks to help you cut costs, so you can save for what matters.
1. Be proactive with car maintenance
Have you been putting off that car service? You might think you’re saving money by extending the time between services, but it could cost you more in the long run.
The up-front cost of a service might seem pricey, but by delaying it, you could be risking expensive repairs in the future.
If you don’t get your car serviced, it could become less efficient as parts like spark plugs, brake pads, belts and pulleys begin to wear out.
On top of that, you risk conditions like oil sludge or worn suspension components which can be costly to repair.
2. Drive economically
Rapid acceleration and hard braking are the quickest ways to waste petrol. Around town, you’ll use less fuel if you drive smoothly and maintain a steady speed.
If you’re driving a manual, use the gearbox sensibly and change up through the gears as soon as practical.
Driving an automatic? Ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car has gained sufficient speed.
If you’ve got a couple of work colleagues who live nearby, why not give carpooling a go in 2020?
Carpooling has countless benefits, from saving money on fuel and prolonging the life of your vehicle, to reducing stress and helping the environment.
4. Stop idling
If you’re parked and waiting, turn the engine off. Idling can use about $3 worth of fuel every hour.
5. Cool your jets
Do you switch the air-conditioning on no matter what temperature it is outside? Could you crack a window instead?
If it’s 25C outside and you run the air-conditioning at 25C, it’s pointless, and could worsen your fuel efficiency by up to 12%.
Set your air-con at a reasonable temperature, and only use it when you need to cool the air below the outside temperature.
6. Pick the right time to fuel up
Fuel is a serious cost of living pressure in South Australia. According to RAA, filling up your petrol tank when prices are at their lowest could save you almost $400 a year.
Currently, SA motorists can access petrol price information through a range of fuel-comparison apps like MotorMouth or GasBuddy.
However, be aware pricing apps are not always accurate or up-to-date – they are often missing independent and regional retailers.
To put power in motorists’ hands, RAA will continue to lobby the state government in 2020 to implement real-time fuel pricing.
This measure would force all service stations to report their petrol prices to the state government as they change.
Prices can then be published on websites and apps to inform motorists on where to get the best deal.
Other states benefit from having this information. RAA believes the state government must deliver on its commitment to seriously address fuel cost of living pressures in SA.
7. Keep your tyres inflated
Maintaining the correct tyre pressure is one practice that can help you save money. Not only will properly inflated tyres improve your car’s fuel efficiency, they’ll also help keep you safe on the road.
Low tyre pressure also causes erratic wear which can lead to tyre failure. In fact, the Tire Maintenance Council found tyres under-inflated by 10% will lose their tread up to 16% faster.
Do you need new tyres? Speak to RAA – members get 10% off all online tyre purchases.
8. Check your wheel alignment
While checking your tyres, it’s a good idea to ensure your wheels are all aligned.
Getting a wheel alignment will ensure they’re working together properly and will increase fuel efficiency, reduce suspension wear and increase the life of your tyres.
9. Save on insurance
If you’re looking for car insurance, make sure you do your research and get the best deal.
If you’re already an RAA member and have purchased road service, home insurance or security monitoring products, you could save even more.
10. Keep it clean
It’s common for your car to go unwashed from time-to-time, with dust, dirt and spots of bird poo piling up on the paintwork.
If it’s starting to look a bit grimy, it might be time to grab a bucket, sponge and some wax, and show your car some love.
If you don’t, you might find your paint fading, cracking or peeling. This could knock thousands of dollars off your car’s resale value.
11. Choose your car park carefully
Car parking can be expensive, particularly if you work in the city. Leaving your car on the city fringes, then walking or catching a tram to work could help you save money.
However, if you want to park your car in the CBD, apps like Parkhound and Park Adelaide can help you find a good deal.
12. Watch your speed
You’re not just risking a fine and other road users’ safety if you’re speeding. You’re also increasing your fuel consumption.
In fact, a Monash University study found cars use about 13% more fuel when travelling at 120km/h rather than at 110km/h.
The message here is clear: if you slow down, you’ll save money and get to your destination safely.
13. Combine errands
By combining your errands in one drive you’ll save on fuel. Why? When the engine is warm, you can use half the fuel you would when the engine is cold.
14. Remove excess weight
You might not realise it, but if your car’s boot is full of stuff you don’t need, you could be using extra fuel.
The heavier your car, the harder your engine will have to work, and the more petrol you’ll burn through.
Remove those unnecessary deck chairs, sports bags or the children’s toys and only pack them when they’re needed.
15. Reduce drag
Get rid of those roof racks while you’re not using them.
They weigh about 3-5kg and increase your vehicle’s drag. You can also reduce drag by closing any open windows or your sunroof if you’ve got one.
This will improve your vehicle’s aerodynamic performance and fuel efficiency.
16. Plan your route
If possible, plan your route to work or school and choose alternate roads that are less congested.
Sometimes the shortest route might not be the most fuel efficient, if you end up stuck in traffic.
Constant stopping and starting can cost you money on fuel and put stress on your engine.
17. Drive when your start the engine
Modern cars don’t need time to warm up to achieve optimal temperature for driving. You will be wasting fuel by idling to let the car warm up.
18. Use your cruise control
Cruise control can help you maintain a steady speed while you drive, which will help your fuel efficiency.
If you’re frequently driving on country roads or down freeways, use cruise control and you might be pleasantly surprised.
19. Renew your licence for multiple years
Instead of renewing your licence annually, opt for a 5 or 10-year licence.
If you buy your licence annually over a 10-year period you’ll pay $660, and that doesn’t include inflation.
Currently you’ll pay $480 to renew your licence for 10 years – that’s a saving of $180.
20. Buy your registration annually
The initial cost of purchasing your car registration annually might be a bit daunting, but it can help you save in the long run.
Every quarter it costs $167.03 to register a 4-cylinder sedan. Paying quarterly will cost you $668.12 a year.
If you register the same vehicle in a yearly lump sum, you’ll pay $642.06, saving $26.
Want to save a bit more? Pay with direct debit and you’ll save another $4, plus, you’ll never risk the fine that comes with forgetting to pay your rego.