Cutting down on your car bills is easy if you have the know-how and put a bit of time and effort in.
Cutting down on your car bills is easy if you have the know-how and put a bit of time and effort in. Patrick Woods

Is your car costing too much?

LIKE electricity costs, car savings are possible when you look for them.

I recently downloaded a free mobile app developed and offered to customers by our power provider. Among other things, it allows the bill payer 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 take the time to break down some of the individual costs?

So, to help kick things off, listed below are a few 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 as well, you may well get quotes at a far better rate.

Cheap Fuel at Rainbow Fuel, Caloundra. Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
CHEAP FUEL: If your car needs to run on 95 octane, see if it is able to use often cheaper E10 fuel. Warren Lynam


Pay attention to the fuel price cycles and try to time your fill-ups accordingly: check out for the best fuel prices in your area. For most petrol-powered vehicles, cheaper 91 octane is recommended so there's no need to fill up with more expensive 95 or 98 octane unless your car demands it. Performance vehicles and some European brands demand petrol at a minimum 95 octane. If so, find out if your car is suitable to run on E10 (most modern cars are) that has an octane rating of 95 and contains a maximum of 10% ethanol. Go to or ask your local dealership to see if your car is E10 suitable.

Tyre pressure

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, plus your tread will wear away quicker meaning you'll need to replace them more often.

TYRE PRESSURE: Consult the manufacturers tyre placard, usually found inside fuel filler cap for the recommended tyre pressure. Check at least monthly. Photo Quintin Maddern / Western Star
UNDER PRESSURE: Keep your tyre pressure at the correct level to save fuel and prevent tread wear. Quintin Maddern

Reduce short cold runs

Try carrying out as many errands as possible in one outing. Fuel consumption is horrendously high when engines are cold. To save even more fuel, challenge yourself to drive more smoothly by reducing sudden acceleration and avoiding 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?

The service section at Weststar on the corner of James and Herries Street. The dealership now has Hyundai, Merceds-Benz, Peugeot and a large used car section Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle
SERVICE PLEASE: Don't be afraid to ask questions of the garage servicing your car. Bev Lacey


How about doing 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.

Many of us are guilty of not asking enough questions, challenging costs or looking for alternatives as ways of saving money.

So take some time and carry out a review of your vehicle ownership costs and make a conscious effort to try to make savings. I can almost guarantee you will if you put your mind to it.

N.B. A note to any future visitors - if the household lights are out, we are probably at home with candles burning.