Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Tips to save money on vehicle expenses

Published: May 25, 2018 11:43:47 AM IST
Updated: May 25, 2018 01:28:42 PM IST

Tips to save money on vehicle expenses
A car is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make, second only to a house. You should know that the cost of car ownership does not stop when you drive it out of the showroom. Owning and maintaining a vehicle constitutes one of the largest household expenses in India today. Before you buy a vehicle you should estimate the out-of-pocket expenses such as cost of fuel, taxes, maintenance charges, car financing, and insurance premiums.

You should be aware of the fact that every vehicle undergoes depreciation with age, and the rate of depreciation is high in the first 5 years of ownership. So, you should make a side-by-side comparison of vehicles beyond their price tags to get a complete idea of the expenses you will be bearing.

Once your spanking new car is in your driveway, there are several ways in which you can save money on its ownership. These costs can be segregated into three heads, namely, fuel expenses, car insurance premiums, and maintenance charges. More information can be found in  

Expenses on fuel
Some of the ways in which you can save money on fuel costs are detailed below:

1. Practise sensible driving - Increasing the speed of the vehicle rapidly, hard braking, and hard turns are ways in which you will expend a lot of fuel. These aggressive techniques of driving can bring down the mileage of your vehicle. So, it is advisable to avoid these as much as possible.

2. Stop idling - If you are waiting at a signal, you should ideally turn your engine off. Idling can burn a lot of fuel, whereas restarting your vehicle does not expend that much fuel.

3. Turn down the air conditioner - Using the air conditioning system can bring down the fuel economy of your vehicle by more than 25%. So, you should check if you are able to set it at a higher temperature or even turn it down completely to brave the heat. Driving with the windows open for a short duration before turning on the A/C will allow the hot air to move out first, hence improving the efficiency of the air conditioning system.

4. Use the recommended fuel - You should read through the owner’s manual of your vehicle and understand the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer. Using an alternative grade of motor oil will bring down the mileage, owing to increased friction in the vehicle’s engine. The right fuel will also increase the longevity of the engine and assure you savings in the long run.

5. Keep a check on the tyres - Ensuring that all tyres in your vehicle have the same pressure will improve its mileage. You can consider buying a tyre gauge or any other monitoring system to check the pressure once a month. Checking your tyres will also ensure that there are lesser chances of a blowout that could be dangerous and expensive at the same time!

There are several other ways in which you can save on fuel. For instance, you can sign up for a credit card that provides cash back on fuel purchases. Also, when you drive across states, you can fill up your fuel tank at the place where fuel is available at the cheapest price.

Motor insurance premiums
Listed below are ways in which you can bring down the cost of your motor insurance policy:

1. Reduce coverage for older cars - When your vehicle gets older, say more than 10 years old or if it is worth less than 10 times the motor insurance premium, you may consider reducing its insurance coverage. An older car will usually incur repair costs that are more than the worth of the car itself. So you can consider eliminating the own-damage cover from the insurance package and opt only for a third-party liability insurance standalone plan.

2. Comparison shop
- One of the most important steps to take when buying car insurance or a two-wheeler insurance policy is to compare the coverage and costs between different products offered by insurance companies. This way, you can find the most cost-effective solution available in the market. This service is available at most neutral insurance broking websites, and it literally costs nothing.

3. Avail specific discounts - Insurance companies offer discounts to customers who are within a specific age group, employed in a certain profession, and members in certain automobile associations. When you are engaged in a conversation with your insurer, check if you are eligible for any of these discounts.

4. Bundle insurance policies - Several general insurance providers offer insurance at low costs to customers who are already insured with them through a different product. For example, an insurance company may offer you auto insurance at a lower cost if you already have a medical insurance policy with them.

5. Refrain from making small claims
- If your vehicle has suffered a small damage, you should look to pay for the damage repair yourself. This way, you will preserve the No Claim Bonus you have earned under the policy. This will also ensure you save money on insurance in the long run.

6. Get personal accident cover - This is a very important insurance cover that you should have in your financial arsenal. This cover is available as a rider that enhances the coverage under life insurance plans and health insurance policies. It can also be availed as in-built coverage in a comprehensive car insurance policy, free of extra charges.

Maintenance charges

You need not wrench around on your car constantly to keep it in good shape. There are some steps an ordinary car owner can take to reduce the cost of upkeep:

1. Know when to service the car - You should be aware of the manufacturer-recommended servicing schedule of your car. Even if your mechanic recommends a servicing outside of this schedule, you need not get it done unless you are convinced on the need for the same.

2. Reduce hard braking - We have already discussed on how aggressive driving can impact the mileage of your vehicle. You should also know that executing a hard brake often will affect the life of the brakes. The wear on the brakes for a high-end car will be greater as well.

Apart from the above, replacing your vehicle’s air filters and fluids are good practises to increase its life. You should also be able to handle easy repairs on the car, such a replacing the wiper blades, lights, and fuses.

Just like all other forms of personal finance tasks, the more cost-saving measures you embrace today, the greater will be the amount you save on your vehicle expenses in the long run.