HomeOpinionMotoring: Ways of reducing car daily costs

Motoring: Ways of reducing car daily costs

By Andrew Muzamhindo                                                                                               

A vehicle’s running costs go beyond fuel bills and insurance.

You also have got vehicle licensing costs, repair work and depreciation.

So, how do you reduce those costs and lower your annual bill?

Running costs can easily be reduced if you are willing to put in the effort.

New cars depreciate faster than used ones, but whatever you buy, you can help keep its value by looking after it, repairing any scratches or bumps, not taking up too much mileage on the clock and keeping your service record up to date.

As motorists, we are always trying to reduce our running costs so that we can put the money we saved towards other important things.Faced with a pandemic and a gloomy inflation-riddled economic outlook, the need to reduce our car running costs has never been greater.

Here are some handy tips to help lessen your motoring burden.

Plan your journeys

This process can be quite tedious as it requires everyone in your family to share their schedules.

But as they say, a bit of planning goes a long way. Do not drive aimlessly.

Always use the shortest and safest route.

Planning your daily trips helps economise the use of your car.

For instance, if you live in the east and have an errand in the west, wait till someone also needs to head in that direction. Then, set a day to run both errands together.

Having a car makes it easy to just get in and drive anywhere, anytime. But keep doing that and you’ll only spend more on petrol and rack in unnecessary mileage on your dashboard.

Try not to exceed 20 km per trip

I know this isn’t always possible. But if you really want to minimise your car running costs by reducing your petrol expenses, don’t drive more than 20 km per trip.

Obviously, the further you drive, the more fuel you are going to burn.

I recommend 20 km because that’s usually when the engine has had enough time not just to warm up, but reach its optimal temperature. When this happens, the engine oil’s protection should also be at its peak — provided you’re using the correct grade and viscosity.

Look for free parking

This is one of the best ways to reduce your car running costs.

If you’re heading to an area like the CBD where parking is expensive, search for car parks with cheaper rates instead or have an arrangement with a friend who staysa  walking distance from town and park your car there.

When I travel into the CBD, I usually park outside the area and walk into the CBD. In Harare getting into the CBD is unavoidable because government offices are in the CBD. We have to interact with the government at one stage of the other. The commute gives me some exercise and I also get to enjoy the experience.

Such an arrangement is also a good way to avoid Easy Park charges. Ever noticed how at times they bill you for parking when you were hardly in that area or checked out within an hour only to be told that you parked for three hours the last time you were in town so you owe them.

Clean your own car

Wash your car yourself instead of paying US$15 at the car wash every time you take your car for valet.This goes a long way towards reducing your car’s running costs.

A good quality shampoo will cost around US$20. But from that single bottle of concentrated formula, you should be able to wash your car at least 20 times.

Even if you factor in money for a bucket of water, you will still come out way ahead compared to paying US$15 per wash.

As a bonus, you get a bit of a workout, too, what with all that standing up, squatting down and carrying pails of water around!

Use eco-friendly tyres

If you’re not a driving enthusiast, you should definitely consider swapping to eco-friendly or low rolling resistance tyres at your next tyre change.

Tyres from Yokohama’s BluEarth and Bridgestone’s Ecopia lineups are a good bet if you want tyres that can help you save fuel.

Your engine will not have to work so hard when moving off, since the tyres help it more easily overcome the car’s inertia. In the long run, the fuel saved reduces your car running costs.

Smooth and steady does it

Keep a cool head and avoid road rage so you can reap the benefits of a gentler driving style.

Following the preceding tips is good, but it will all come to naught if you don’t adopt a gentler driving style.

I do not suggest hyper-miling (kunyutura) to reduce your car running costs as this is impractical for most drivers. However, I do recommend avoiding abrupt acceleration and sudden braking, as these will cause your car to be a guzzler resulting in poorer fuel economy.

Accelerate progressively and anticipate slowdowns so you can time your braking. Actions like these will make you a smoother and more efficient driver, thus putting more money in your pocket.

Avoid driving with a full tank

Vehicle weight and engine power are two of the most important parameters that influence a vehicle’s fuel consumption.

I know in Zimbabwe whenever we have the money we are conditioned to “fill it up” because of fuel shortages that have been intermittently rocking our beloved country.

It feels good when you command that petrol attendant to fill it. Well, avoid driving with a full tank if you can. Keeping your tank half-full will again mean you’re carrying less weight. A vehicle’s weight is an important factor in how much fuel it will consume.

The heavier the vehicle, the more energy it needs to get moving. Extra weight also increases a vehicle’s rolling resistance, which is a force that resists forward motion produced as the wheels roll over the road.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study estimates that vehicle weight reductions of 35% if implemented at reasonable cost could see a reduction in fuel consumption by 12-20% with no sacrifice in current vehicle safety and performance attributes. Such efforts will not compromise safety requirements and convenience features.

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading