Running and maintaining a car is expensive, with high fuel prices and potentially high vehicle maintenance costs.
Follow some basic tips, though, and you can help minimise the cost of keeping your vehicle roadworthy and in good shape.
Drive with care
You can extend the life of your clutch, brakes and tyres – and save fuel – simply by driving with care.
Resist the temptation to “burn rubber.” Avoid riding the clutch when you’re waiting at a stop street or traffic light. Also, brake gently, rather than slamming your foot down on the brake pedal. This can double the mileage you get out of the brake system.
Brush up on the basics
Familiarise yourself with your vehicle’s owner manual, which includes all sorts of helpful information.
Get to know what basic car maintenance has to be done and when, and there’s less likelihood of getting conned into paying for work that isn’t really necessary at a particular time. The manual may also equip you to perform certain maintenance tasks yourself, rather than paying a specialist. This could save hundreds or even thousands of rand.
Shop around for vehicle service specials
The internet is a mine of information. You can search for special deals, promotions and vehicle service specials in your area.
Websites like Gumtree and DealZone often feature deals on automotive services, from standard tune-ups and mechanical repairs to brakes, shocks and tyre fitment. Community newspapers may also advertise specials.
Opt for an owner-managed workshop
Smaller, owner-managed workshops have less overheads. They’re also more reliant on repeat business.
You’ll find that the labour costs and percentage mark-ups on spares are generally lower at these workshops than at high-end main street car dealerships.
Make mates with the mechanic
Try and form a good working relationship with a mechanic. Find someone you can trust implicitly, who you know will double-check the safety aspects of your vehicle – and who won’t suggest preventative maintenance unless it’s genuinely in your best interests.
Sweat the small jobs
Learn how to do the small maintenance jobs yourself, and you’ll be amazed by how much you can save. Get to grips with changing the oil, air filter, fuses, bulbs and windscreen wiper blades. Also, rotate your tyres yourself at least twice a year and you’ll save on labour, and prevent wear and tear.
You can learn how to perform most common vehicle maintenance tasks using the internet and YouTube videos.
Use only the best spares
You can reduce car maintenance costs by using only high-quality vehicle parts and spares, designed to work optimally in your vehicle and to resist wear and tear.