Car Care: Ask questions, challenge costs
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Like electricity charges, car savings are possible when you look for them, says Jack Biddle.
I recently downloaded a free mobile app developed and offered to customers by our power provider. Among other things, it allows the billpayer to regularly monitor household electricity use, looking back at the peaks and troughs of consumption, as well as forecasting total use for a month.
In the past we, like a high percentage of users I imagine, have simply received an invoice, rolled our eyes when costs were higher than expected, paid up and lived in hope the following month’s bill might be less.
The beauty of the new app is: we can now look in more detail at where the peaks were and be a little more proactive in trying to reduce waste in the future. For oldies like us, regular monitoring is more out of interest than anything else, but even for a single couple living in an average-size home, the highs and lows can be quite dramatic.
Families must face even bigger spikes, especially in winter when lights, heated towel rails, washing machines, clothes dryers and heat pumps are in use.
It started me thinking about motor vehicle ownership and how we simply take for granted most of those ongoing costs. Like electricity use, there must be opportunities to reduce our motoring expenses if we took the time to break down some of the individual costs?
So to help kick things off, listed below are a couple of areas where dollar savings could be made:
Talk to your provider about the policy you have, the costs and who in the family is covered. Have circumstances changed that might reduce costs? Are there any loyalty discounts you may be missing out on? Don’t be afraid to ring around and ask for quotes from other providers.
For most petrol-powered vehicles, cheaper 91 octane is recommended. Find out if it’s suitable for your vehicle and if necessary, change.
Check your tyres a little more regularly. Most vehicles on our roads have under-inflated tyres to some degree. Soft tyres impact on the finances because of an increase in fuel consumption.
Reduce short cold runs
Try carrying out as many errands as possible in one outing. Fuel consumption is horrendously high when engines are cold.Challenge yourself... to drive more smoothly, reduce sudden acceleration and heavy braking where possible.
Ask repairers to justify their costs, especially when any additional work is recommended. While most work is genuine, there are times when it becomes more of an extra income generator for the workshop concerned than anything else. Often repair costs can be spread out over a longer timeframe. Bottom line is: do you have a trusted repairer?
... to do some of the basic under-bonnet checks yourself, such as oil, water and brake fluid levels. Being proactive can help reduce unwanted mechanical failures or limit the costs of repairs.
Kiwis by nature don’t often ask enough questions, challenge costs or look for alternatives.
So take some time and carry out a review of your vehicle ownership costs and make a conscious effort to try and make savings. I can almost guarantee you will, if you put your mind to it.
■Note to any future visitors — if the household lights are out, we are probably at home with candles burning.