You’ve bought a new set of wheels and you want to keep your running costs down. Here are some ideas to ensure your car doesn't make you a pauper.

Give me the main points

  • Practice preventative maintenance. Service your car regularly.
  • Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated – this'll save up to 6% of your fuel bill.
  • Keep an eye on petrol prices. Gas up when they drop.
  • Drive gently and smoothly (no Mark Webbering!).
  • Look for an honest, trustworthy mechanic – and take her advice.
  • Remove unnecessary weight from the car.

Regularly service your car

Dropping off your car for a service might seem like a hassle, but it has long-term benefits. Not only will your car run more efficiently, but it'll also be more reliable.

You should service your car every six months, or every 10-15,000 kilometres (though this varies from car to car—check your car manual for specifics).

Check your tyre pressure

Keep your tyres at the right pressure. Under—or over—inflated tyres not only use up to six per cent more petrol, they'll wear out more quickly.

Moreover, they're unsafe. Check them monthly to ensure your cornering, stability and braking are not compromised.

Oh. One more thing. Ask your mechanic to check they're balanced and properly aligned when you go in for your service.

Fill up petrol on the cheapest day

Avoid filling up on weekends and public holidays. Fuel prices often sneak up from Thursday through to Sunday, so buy petrol earlier in the week.

Also hold on to your shopping dockets. That 4c per litre saving adds up.

Drive sensibly

It might seem obvious, but a lot people don't realise the downsides of erratic driving. Not only are you more likely to have an accident, but being heavy on the pedals—stopping and starting aggressively—uses way more petrol.

Maintain a safe following distance from the car in front and aim for smooth acceleration and braking. Be patient and ask yourself: 'Is it worth weaving through traffic—taking risks and chewing through the gas— just to get a few cars ahead?’

Shop around for the best insurance deals

Just because you’ve received your insurance renewal notice doesn’t mean you have to pay it. With so many insurance companies out there hungering for business, it's worth shopping around for a cheaper deal.

Find an honest mechanic

Cars are more complicated than they used to be—and the average Aussie is now tested by a mere oil change. Honest, trustworthy mechanics are worth their weight in... spanners.

Ask family, friends and co-workers if they know a mechanic worthy of recommendation. If not, test a local mechanic with a small job to see if you can trust them with something more major.

Remove unnecessary weight from the car

Think of your car like your body—would you carry a backpack if you didn’t need to? Of course not: it'd make you tired, thirsty, grumpy and give you a sore back.

Your car's the same—the more weight it carries, the more fuel it uses (and the more wear and tear there is on tyres, the chassis and suspension). The long-term effects mean a rest break at the mechanic, and more money spent on maintenance.

Don’t speed

Given all the marketing campaigns, you’d think this was a no-brainer. But each year thousands of people die on Australian roads due to speeding. Flouting the law can not only be fatal, it can also incur expensive fines, demerit points, or you could lose your licence.

It's also costly in terms of fuel. Speeding 10km/h above the limit can increase your fuel consumption by 10%—hundreds of dollars extra each year.

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