Buying a car is likely to be one of the biggest expenditures in your life – particularly if you are planning on buying a brand new one. While the car itself obviously costs a hefty amount of cash, there are a mountain of other expenses to think about. Insurance, fuel bills, road tax, maintenance, parts…and these are just a few!
So, you will want to make sure you have a vehicle that runs as efficiently as possible so you can get years of enjoyment out of it without it breaking the bank. We are all keeping our cars for longer these days – the average has been found to be 7.7 years – and during this time, you will want a car that is as healthy and happy as possible. Not only this, you will want to keep trips to the mechanic as infrequent as you can.
That’s why more and more people are looking for cars that are both reliable and efficient. Here are a few factors you should consider before investing in your new car so that you can cut down on costs where possible. There are also some tips for reducing your expenditures when you have your car.
Of course, the biggest expense that comes under the umbrella of ‘running costs’ is fuel, but there are a number of other factors to consider including servicing, parts, tyres, parking and tolls.
There are plenty of motoring tables which can be found online that will give you a fuller picture of how fuel efficient your car is and how reliable it tends to be. You will also want to think about the type of car you need. If you have a larger family, an SUV is a popular choice but these days, there are plenty of smaller ‘crossover’ vehicles that offer the performance of an SUV in a more compact package. These tend to be a lot more fuel efficient.
In the past, diesel tended to be significantly more expensive than petrol at the pumps. However, as time has gone on, the price gap has gotten smaller and diesel has even become the more affordable choice in recent years. That being said, diesel cars will still only be more efficient for high mileage drivers. Cars that run on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) are usually expensive to buy but filling them up is often around half the price so these are also worth considering.
As with everything you do financially, careful calculations and planning will usually save you money in the long run. Take the time to work out roughly how many miles you will cover per year and then choose a car that best suits your needs.
Tax is calculated based on the amount of CO2 your car emits so you will want to think about this before you choose a car. Diesel cars tend to produce significantly less CO2 and are great for people who tend to travel longer distances but they are not suitable for people who are engaging in low mileage, stop/start city driving.
Older cars are usually less fuel efficient so if you are planning on buying a used car, you should factor the cost of tax into your calculations before purchase. Smaller vehicles with small engine sizes often have incredibly low tax, and they are certainly worth considering if you are buying a car to cover short distances.
Before purchasing your vehicle, you will need to think carefully about how you are paying for it. There are a range of different financing options available so take your time to examine every different choice you could make. If you cannot afford to buy the car outright, you have other options so don’t get disheartened if your dream car seems out of reach.
Some good advice to stretch your money as far as possible is to buy the smallest car to meet your needs. You can also look into buying a car that uses an alternative energy source which will also help reduce your car tax.
Once You Have Your Car, Drive Sensibly!
Now that you have your new car, you will want to keep costs down as much as possible to make the most of the years you have together! When you are out on the road, avoid any sudden acceleration and braking where possible and don’t labour the engine by driving in the wrong gear for too long. Typically, you will want to drive your car between 2000 and 2500 RPM.
Check your car fluid levels and tyre pressure on a regular basis and before any long journeys to avoid any potential damage you could cause to your vehicle. Remember, you need to adjust tyre pressures accordingly depending on how much weight your car is carrying. If you have a lot of luggage, pack your roof rack evenly. Remove the roof box when not in use.
Check your handbook for other ways you can service your car yourself to avoid bringing it to the mechanic. Listen out for any strange noises coming from your vehicle. It could just be something clunking around in the boot, but if you are unable to identify the source of the noise, make sure to have a qualified professional take a look as continuing to drive can result in even more damage being sustained.
Try to avoid using your air con all the time by winding down your windows when you can! Stay at the recommended speed limit on motorways and all roads in general. Though many motorists drive at 80-85 mph on motorways, this can increase fuel costs by as much as 25 per cent. Also, avoid filling up your car on motorways as these petrol stations usually have the highest prices. You can check online to find where you can buy the cheapest fuel nearby to you. Those couple of pence per litre can really add up if you are covering a lot of miles in your vehicle.