SAVE UP! South African fuel prices are hefty but there are ways to save costs and reduce fuel bills. Image: Shutterstock
As consumers struggle to make ends meet due to economic pressures, resulting from high food prices, electricity costs and other household living expenses, finding ways to reduce the running costs of a motor vehicle can go a long way in relieving financial strain, says Standard Bank.
According to Nicholas Nkosi, head of vehicle and asset finance – Retail Banking at Standard Bank, there are two factors that currently make up the bulk of total ownership costs of a vehicle, namely: fuel and keeping the car on the road. When these two costs are added up, they can easily match or even exceed a new vehicle’s monthly instalment payments.
Nkosi says: “Running costs are mainly broken down into maintenance, insurance, and other costs such as fuel, annual license fees, e-tolls, traffic fines and car tracker fees etc. With a proper and realistic plan in place, these costs can be easily managed.”
Follow these simple tips to manage car running costs:
“While there is little that consumers can do about the rising price of fuel, there are a few tips that can help them to make their fuel tanks go the extra mile,” says Jill Koopman, brand and C-Store Alliance manager at Caltex South Africa.
• Try to avoid driving during peak hours – constant starting, stopping and idling hurts fuel economy.
• Join a lift club - travelling with friends or family that work close by can save you money.
• Opt for a smaller fuel-efficient car can make a big difference if you can't avoid driving during peak hours.
• Turn off the air-conditioner when it’s not hot can also decrease your fuel bill.
• Avoid quick acceleration when you take-off – doing this can help you to improve fuel economy.
• Empty your boot - all that extra weight requires extra power and extra fuel from your engine.
Servicing your car regularly, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, helps you to avoid unexpected repair costs and to keep your car in good condition.
Also, make sure that your tyres are in good condition. While getting new tyres is often viewed as a grudge purchase, tyres are very important for your safety and ensuring the roadworthiness of your vehicle.
Fayelizabeth Foster, Standard Bank head of loyalty and rewards says: “Rewards programmes have opened a new way to provide relief for consumers as they can help in reducing daily living costs and create an opportunity for consumers to save.”
• UCount Rewards members can get up to R1 back in rewards points for every litre of fuel they purchase at participating Caltex forecourts, and can also redeem the rewards points that they have collected to pay for their fuel purchases.
• Members can collect up to 6.25% back in rewards points whenever they purchase car batteries and tyres, do wheel balancing, and top up their nitrogen at Tiger Wheel & Tyre. Members can also redeem their rewards points there to help manage unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.
Understanding your insurance policy will go a long way to helping you manage your car’s running costs. If you are not properly insured and become involved in an accident - it could place a huge financial burden on you. Also make sure that the policy includes roadside assistance and car hire – these can be costly if you have to pay for them out of your pocket.
At the same time, you should only get cover that you need and avoid additional extras that you can do without.
Fixing your instalment rate guarantees that you will pay the same amount for the duration of your contract. Nkosi says this option can be quite useful in helping you to manage your car’s running costs given that the economy is volatile and interest rates could increase unexpectedly.
“While this option may be a bit more expensive, at least it gives you peace of mind – by eliminating the risk of your car instalment payments increasing unexpectedly,” Nkosi adds.
Lastly, try and save for ad hoc costs such as annual license fees and e-tolls. These costs can make a huge dent to your monthly budget if you are not well prepared for them.