For many Australians, driving is a routine part of life. It’s the daily commute to work for many, a necessity for university students, and an integral tool for those involved in the gig economy or the grey fleet.
However, despite the ease and convenience that owning a car brings, it also ushers in costs that can drain your wallet faster than you might expect.
Car loan repayments, servicing, and fuel can quickly take a toll on the wallet. According to the Australian Automobile Association, Melburnians shell out an average of $34.62 weekly on insurance premiums and $466.96 on transport costs. To help you, here are some tips on saving money on your car.
Minimising Car Expenditures
Car insurance can be a significant expense, but there are measures you can take to save costs and ensure you have the ideal coverage. Here are suggestions for decreasing your auto coverage expenses:
Reassess Your Coverage
Some Australians legally require Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, which can vary state to state. In Melbourne and the state of Victoria, CTP is automatically included in your registration fee. You may spot this on your VicRoads renewal notice under the name “TAC premium”, whereas New South Wales requires Green Slips. If you have a car loan, comprehensive coverage may also be necessary. If your car has no financial encumbrances, consider reassessing your comprehensive coverage to save on premiums.
Compare Insurance Providers
Comparing car insurance quotes from different companies can lead to substantial savings. We recommend evaluating at least three to five providers when your policy is up for renewal.
Grey Fleet Insurance
If you use your private vehicle for work-related duties as part of your employment this is known as “grey fleet”. How grey fleet is managed varies enormously between organisations, some may directly reimburse their workers at a fixed rate per mileage or the worker will claim directly back from the Australian Tax Office as part of their annual tax return.
What is constant is anyone who uses their vehicle for work-related purposes must inform their insurer and indicate the percentage of their trips annually which is work-related. Your annual insurance premium may vary based on the amount of driving you do for work. People aren’t technically covered if they’re involved in a crash during work-related travel, even if their insurance covers work-related travel.
For an employer, have a duty of care to provide their workers with a safe workplace, including the vehicle, and grey fleet should ensure vehicles and workers are properly insured.
Contact your insurance provider and inquire about discounts. Examples include clean driving history, low mileage driving, off-street garaging and good student discounts. Bundling multiple insurance policies can also result in savings.
Adjust Your Deductible
Choosing a higher deductible may lead to lower premiums. However, ensure that you can afford to pay the deductible in the event of an accident.
Efficient Car Maintenance on a Budget
Regular maintenance is essential for preserving your car’s value and warranty if it still applies. Here are cost-effective approaches to taking care of your vehicle:
Consult Your Owner’s Manual
Your owner’s manual is an indispensable resource for maintenance guidance. It will provide the recommended schedule for your specific car model, ensuring that you only spend money on necessary repairs.
Learn and Perform Basic Maintenance Tasks
Learn how to perform simple maintenance tasks, such as replacing air filters and changing wiper blades. Completing these tasks yourself can save money instead of relying on professional services.
Choose a Car Based on Safety, Emissions and if it’s fit for purpose
Choosing the right vehicle could be a life-changing decision so it’s important to select a vehicle that is fit for what you want to use it for, find the safest within your budget and look at lower emissions, which correlates with fuel use. People need to do their research on their vehicles and a great starting place is How Safe is Your Car | Vehicle Crash Test Results & Safety Ratings. This draws on the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and the Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) which have assessed the safety of vehicle models currently available to Australian drivers.
The ANCAP determines its ratings through a specific set of consistent independent crash tests and safety evaluations. A five-star ANCAP rating is only applicable for five years following its crash test.
For the 2023 UCSR, these are based on real-world statistical analysis of more than 9 million vehicles involved in police-reported crashes and 2.5 million injured road users in Australia and New Zealand between 1987-2021. The UCSRs are updated annually to include additional data from more recent crashes.
By using How Safe is Your Car, you can make an informed decision and get a safe, low-emission car that’s also a perfect fit for your driving style, budget, and needs.
Selection of Cars
Selecting the right vehicle for your needs means understanding what you need it for. For example, if the vehicle will mostly operate in urban areas by a solo driver then larger or utility vehicles are unnecessary as they pose a greater risk to other road users should you be involved in an incident. Vehicle size does matter.
A MUARC 2020 research study found Australia’s road death toll was inflated by 5% purely from people choosing to buy four-wheel-drive utes and large SUVs. The risk of death and serious injury posed by a ute compared to a medium car is about 30% higher.
Depending on the size and type of vehicle you need you should consider:
For something small
- Kia Cerato MY2018-2021
- Mazda 3/Axela MY2013-2019
- Mazda CX-3MY2015-2021
- Subaru Impreza/XV MY2016-2021
- Toyota Corolla MY2018-2021
- Toyota CH-RMY2016-2021
- Volkswagen Tiguan MY2016-2021
For something medium
- Audi A4/S4/RS4/All Road MY2008-2015
- Maxda 6/Atenza MY2012-2021
- Toyota Camry MY2017-2021
- Honda CR-V MY2017-2021
- Jeep Cherokee MY2014-2021
- Mazda CX-5MY2017-2021
- Mitsubishi Outlander MY2012-2021
- Toyota RAV4 Y2019-2021
For something large
- Mercedes Benz E-Class W212/C207.A207MY2009-2016
- Honda Odyssey MY2013-2021
- Land Rover Range Rover Sport. MY2005-2013
- Mazda CX-9MY2016-2021
- Mitsubishi Pajero Sport MY2015-2021
Practice Money-Saving Habits
Eco-driving means using smart driving methods that save fuel and are good for the environment by lowering emissions. But that’s not all, these smart driving habits can also make you safer on the road.
Let’s explore some easy-to-follow eco-driving tips that will help you save money, use less fuel, and improve your safety while driving:
- Service your vehicle regularly.
- Gently accelerate and refrain from speeding.
- Use brakes sparingly and apply them gently.
- Avoid overloading.
- Track your fuel consumption.
Vehicle usage tips
- Remove roof racks when not in use.
- Eliminate excess weight and minimise drag.
- Adhere to the manufacturer’s service schedule.
- Maintain therecommended tyre pressure.
Tips when driving
- Select the appropriate gear for the driving conditions.
- Keep a consistent speed on highways and use cruise control when suitable.
- Look ahead and maintain a smooth driving pace.
- Limit the use of air conditioning.
- Plan your trips – bypass congestion, combine errands, and carpool.
- Avoid idling while parked.
The Bottom Line
In summary, there are many ways to lower expenses and conveniently travel around Victoria . Various strategies, including comparing car insurance providers, adopting fuel-efficient driving habits, and maintaining your vehicle diligently.
By embracing these approaches, you can not only achieve a more cost-effective driving experience but also contribute to a safer and more sustainable transportation environment.