So you’ve agonised over which car to buy; stacked-up the resale values, fuel efficiency, insurance costs and additional creature comforts to find The One. You drive it home, give your park a doe-eyed double take and smugly pat yourself on the back for all your research and wise decision-making.
Then, over the next few years, the relationship turns sour. Despite endless drive-by window admiration and driver pride, your car starts to become a burden; it’s as if it is creeping into your wallet at night to burn your cash without your knowledge. What did you do, or rather, didn’t do, to deserve this? Glad you asked.
Most of us know that car expenditure doesn’t stop at the dealership. Every vehicle requires a certain level of maintenance, and ignoring the signs (some red and blinking) and putting off that half-yearly or 10,000km service several times over will only drive the eventual costs up. However, there are other long-game plays you can make to help save you money.
Here are some of the most common ways you’re blowing the budget and making your car burn through more than just fuel.
Streaming your maps and music
Unless your car comes with a navigation system, Google-mapping to your destination may seem like an easy option. Yet, over time, it will eat at your phone’s data plan – especially if you’re headed out of town on long trips. Similarly, if you’re streaming music, podcasts or videos for your passengers, then you better have a great data plan that extends into the double-digit gigabyte range.
This is where a little bit of road prep comes in. By investing in a standalone sat-nav device, or taking up the offline option on Google Maps, Spotify, iTunes or Netflix before you leave the house; or loading up that old iPhone with media, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll save on phone data costs.
Not making the most of your car’s extras
From green tech that helps limit your car’s fuel usage to prang preventatives like autonomous emergency braking and lane assist, and even cruise control in older models – consider taking time to get to know your car’s tech, its capabilities, and how it can work with you to save fuel, time and accidents. Otherwise, what’s the point of the additional spend in the first place?
Making more right turns than necessary
Fun fact: In 2004, UPS implemented a policy that all drivers in the United States were to avoid left-hand turns. Why? A study found that a left-hand-heavy route might seem quick on paper, but actually wasted fuel, often took longer because of traffic lights, and increased emissions and the probability of an accident (of course, in Australia, the equivalent would be turning right across traffic). Something to think about next time you’re navigating inner city traffic…
Not looking ahead and/or driving erratically
A no brainer but often forgotten. Fanging around corners, wearing out the label on your car’s Sports+ mode button and not looking far enough ahead of you when in traffic wastes fuel and wears out your brake pads, suspension and your precious, precious tyres. Save it for track days where you can really go for it.
Forgetting the details
What’s the point of considering your car’s resale value if you’re not going to look after it? Learning how to keep the paint pristine, treating your upholstery or leather interior with the right products, addressing little scratches and calling in a reputable pro when you need body work done, splurging on a high-end detail at least once or twice a year may seem expensive and/or a lot of work at the time, but your future wallet will thank you.