Looking after your car

Keep your car in good working order to save on fuel costs and avoid potentially costly repairs.

Get your car serviced regularly

Regular servicing and engine tune-ups can help keep your engine running at its best.

Don’t let that rattling sound develop into a major headache later on. Get your car serviced at least every year to keep it in the best possible condition.

If you get a small nick or bump in the body or windscreen, get it seen to as soon as you can. If left unchecked, it could develop into a much bigger problem, like rust or a crack, that’s more costly to fix. Check if windscreen replacement is included in your insurance policy.

Check and change your engine oil

Check your engine oil level once a month.

Watch how to check your oil level if you’re unsure how to do it.

If your engine oil is running low, top it up using the correct grade of oil for your car. Your car manual or your mechanic will tell you which to use. Using friction-reducing oil keeps the engine’s moving parts from wearing away over time. Take care not to overfill the engine.

Minimise wear and tear on your engine by getting your engine oil changed regularly. Your car manual or mechanic will recommend how often you need to get the oil changed, which generally varies between every 15,000 to 30,000km.

Fluid levels

Check there’s enough liquid in your engine’s cooling system and top it up if you need to. You might want to include anti-freeze in the mixture. It’ll protect your engine from frost damage in winter and from overheating in the warmer months.

Tyres

Keeping your tyres inflated at the correct level can help reduce fuel consumption. Check your tyre pressure regularly, especially before heading off on a long trip.

Underinflated tyres:

  • wear out faster
  • create excessive heat
  • increase fuel consumption, and
  • make your car harder to handle.

Overinflated tyres:

  • are more easily damaged
  • wear out faster
  • make the car unstable, and
  • make your car harder to handle.

Get your wheels aligned and balanced every six months or 10,000 km, whichever you reach first. And make sure your tyres have enough tread to keep you safe on the road.

Keep your car clean

Wash your car regularly. Not only will it make it shine, it also removes any potentially corrosive materials from the body such as bird droppings, tar, grime, tree sap, and other dirt.

After you’ve washed your car, a coat of wax will create a protective barrier.

Before you drive

Reduce your car’s weight and cut drag

The less weight your car carries, the less fuel is used. Removing any heavy boxes or clutter will make your drive more efficient, and more pleasant for you and your passengers too.

If your car has a bike holder or roof rack attached, take those off if you’re not using them frequently. It will reduce drag on your car, and make your fuel use more economical.

Fill your fuel tank to the first 'click' only

Overfilling the fuel tank could lead to spillage, or loss through the overflow pipe. This is wasteful, harmful to the environment, and a costly.

Make sure that your fuel cap fits properly too – it prevents fuel from evaporating during the warmer months of the year.

Drive to improve fuel efficiency

By changing some of your driving habits, you can reduce fuel consumption and increase your savings.

Ease off the accelerator

Avoid rapidly accelerating and braking. Speeding up only to quickly slow down again causes more fuel to be used over time.

Try to keep your speed consistent. Smooth acceleration and deceleration is the key to avoiding unnecessary fuel consumption.

At traffic lights, start slowing early and let your car roll to a natural stop.

More fuel is used when accelerating to higher speeds, so it pays to stick to the speed limit. This also reduces your chances of getting a speeding ticket – or paying an even higher price.

Drive in the right gear

Driving in the right gear ensures you’re not making your engine work harder than it needs to, and as a result, using more fuel.

Reduce idle time, and stop-start journeys

Idling wastes fuel. While waiting at a traffic light may be unavoidable, for situations like picking up the kids after school, turn the engine off. A 30-second reduction in car idling time can have a big impact on fuel consumption.

Idling, repeated braking, and accelerating are not good for fuel efficiency. If possible, avoid driving during peak traffic hours when there’s likely to be more drivers on the road.

Use air conditioning sparingly

On a hot day, it’s tempting to blast the air conditioning – and keep it running. However chilling your car’s air can increase fuel consumption and increase your running costs.

Instead, consider circulating internal air. You’ll still feel the cooling effect from the air’s movement – even if it hasn’t been chilled.

Opening your windows may seem like a cheaper alternative, but this results in increased drag and more fuel being used.

Seek out the best fuel price

It’s a no-brainer, but comparing prices between nearby service stations is the most direct way of saving on fuel costs.

Use a service like Gaspy to find the cheapest fuel in your area. Or use Roadtrip to work out your fuel costs in advance of a long journey.

Hold onto your supermarket receipts too. They’ll often have fuel discounts, which can add up to some serious savings over time.

Savings outside the car

You’ve changed your driving habits, used your air con less, and found cheaper fuel. But what else can you do to further reduce costs?

Shop around for a better insurance deal

While a good insurance policy ensures you’re covered if the unexpected happens, it’s worth checking that you’re not paying for any extras you don’t need.

Use insurance comparison sites to help you get the best deal possible. But remember, some insurers don’t include their products on these sites, so you may need to check these sites separately.

Often you’ll get a discount when you have more than one policy with a company, for example house, contents and car together. Talk to your insurer.

Get a car loan suited to your budget

If you’re looking at getting a new car or want to refinance your current one, make sure you get a loan with repayments you can afford. Talk with one of our friendly local experts, and they’ll work with you on a loan suited to your needs.