Buying a car is a very important life decision: it can make your life easier, but it will also hit your wallet. So, how can you take the edge off?
Car ownership is a continuing financial commitment, so it’s essential to work out the different costs associated with it – from fuel to finance repayments and insurance.
New car vs used car costs
The cost of owning a car depends a lot on whether you buy it new or used.
If you’ve decided to go for a spanking new car, it’ll be covered with a full manufacturer’s warranty. Your wallet won’t take a hit when you need to service the car – just make sure you know what’s included in the warranty.
What’s more, the car won’t have any wear and tear.
Car depreciation is also something to consider. The average new car loses between 15% and 35% of its value after it’s been on the road for a year. This can exceed 50% over three years.
If buying something pre-owned is what you’re looking into, you may save money on the initial cost of the car, but you’ll have to factor in general maintenance and repair costs for the months and years to come.
Used cars tend to have more wear and tear, despite how well they might have been looked after. What’s more, as the vehicle gets older, maintenance costs usually increase.
On the other hand, used cars depreciate in value more slowly.
If you’re planning to resell the car, it’s worth keeping this in mind. If you’re among the drivers who consider car depreciation an important factor, remember that a regularly-maintained and well-looked-after car depreciates more slowly.
Essential car maintenance
Ok, now we know our costs. But how to keep them down? It’s clear that regular maintenance is essential here. So, here’s what you can do to keep your car on the road for an extra few hundred thousand miles.
Read your car’s manual – there will always be something useful to learn.
Check and change the oil regularly – usually after you pass the 5,000 miles mark or every six months, whichever comes first (or read the manual as it might be different).
Check other car fluids – this includes coolant fluid, brake fluid, power-steering fluid and the transmission fluid. Keeping these topped up is essential to road safety and extended engine life.
Check tyre pressure – correct pressure improves your car’s safety, fuel efficiency and makes your tyres last longer.
Change car filters – it’s an inexpensive quick fix which prolongs engine life, increases fuel efficiency and reduces emissions.
If you own a new car, maintenance should be done in accordance to the manual. However, if you own a used car and you’re unsure where to start, take it in for an MOT.
Potential problems will be picked up and you’ll know what to do next.
Even if you still have a few months left until the next MOT, the test will help you establish the condition of your used car.
Make use of your car’s warranty
Car warranties are not compulsory, but can come in handy if your car develops a fault or needs servicing. However, keep in mind that not everything will be covered and it is best to read the terms.
New cars come with a warranty which is usually three to five years long, but some manufacturers cover their cars for up to seven years.
When buying a used car, always check if it has some of the manufacturer’s warranty left.
Also, some dealers offer warranties which cover mechanical and electrical faults. If there’s no warranty, or you’re buying privately, it’s worth forking out for an after-market warranty. The good thing is that you’ll have the freedom to shop around.
Learn more about finding a warranty which suits your needs. Your car will be protected against unexpected breakdowns, and will keep the cost of ownership down for as long as it’s valid.
Slash the cost of car insurance
Car insurance may often be more expensive than the car itself, which makes it one of the most costly factors of owning a car.
Insurance companies base the prices on risk by looking at different factors. Not all factors can be changed easily, but there are some you can alter:
Secure your car – the more difficult it is to be stolen, the lesser the risk. Cars which have engine immobilisers, trackers and alarms tend to appear less risky to insurers.
Increase your excess – higher voluntary excess will bring your premium down, as it shows how much you’re prepared to pay when making a claim.
Add an experienced driver your policy – having someone with proven track record of responsibility will show insurers that there’s less risk of getting the car into an accident.
Watch your annual mileage – the longer the car’s on the road, the more likely it is that you’ll make a claim. However, always be truthful about your mileage when getting insurance.
Obtain a Pass Plus certificate – pass this course and you may be able to get a discount on your car insurance.