Monday 23 January 2017

Driving home the message: not only losers take the bus

With petrol prices at an all-time high, we've got to learn to drive smarter. From driving with the golf bag in the boot to getting ripped off for a new bulb, many of us are wasting money on cars, writes Louise McBride

Published 08/05/2011 | 05:00

EFFICIENT: Of course you'd save even more using a pedal car
EFFICIENT: Of course you'd save even more using a pedal car

WITH fuel price at all-time highs and a 2 per cent motor insurance levy on the cards, maybe it's time to play Scrooge when you get behind the wheel?

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There are some mortal sins that you must avoid if you are ever to save money on your wheels.

Going to a dealer for your car parts

You could pay twice as much for car parts if you go through a dealer rather than a car parts retailer or independent garage.

Advance Pitstop in Dublin 12 charges €75 for an oil change and basic inspection of a Nissan Qashqai. A Nissan dealer quoted €149 for an oil change. Autodepot Tyres in Dublin charges €80 to fit and balance a new tyre for a Nissan Qashqai. A Nissan dealer quoted €100 to do the same.

If you need a new timing belt after running up a scary mileage on your 2008 Renault Laguna, you can pick up a timing belt kit for about €107 from the car parts retailer, MicksGarage (www.micksgarage.ie). You could pay about €155 to get the same kit from a dealer, according to Mick Crean, co-owner of MicksGarage.

If you're after a new headlight bulb for a 2008 Ford Focus, you can get one for €8.24 at MicksGarage. However, you could pay more than €14 to get a bulb from a dealer, according to Crean. Shop around though -- one Ford dealer quoted us €12 to have the same bulb supplied and fitted.

"We'd have the exact same car part but a different brand to that offered by a dealer," said Crean.

If you decide not to buy your car part from a dealer, only deal with a reputable retailer or garage. Otherwise, you could end up with more problems than you began with. Not all car parts retailers will fit your car part for you -- so unless you're handy yourself, you'll need the help of a friendly mechanic.

comprehensive cover for a banger?

If you've got a banger of a car, is it really worth your while paying for comprehensive insurance so that your car is covered for damage should you be in an accident?

You could save a few hundred euro a year by downgrading your cover from comprehensive to third-party, fire and theft, which will cover you for damage to another car should you be in an accident as well as any damage to your own car by fire or theft.

Let's say you're a 35-year-old Dublin male who drives a 1999 1.4 litre Nissan Almera. You've had your full driving licence and no claims bonus for more than five years. If you get your insurance from Aviva, you'll pay €573 for comprehensive cover -- but only €483 for third-party, fire and theft cover. So in this case, you could save €90 a year by downgrading your cover.

If you're a 38-year-old male who drives a 2004 Ford Focus Zetec and you've your full licence and no penalty points, FBD charges €479 for comprehensive cover, according to www.itsyourmoney.ie Downgrade to third-party, fire and theft cover instead, and you'll pay €341 for your insurance -- about 40 per cent less.

Forgetting to turn the air con off

It costs €225 a month to fill an average car with fuel, according to AA Ireland.

If your car is more than 10 years old, you could pay 10 per cent more for your fuel if you leave the air conditioning on when you don't need it. Turn the air conditioning off then and you could save €22.50 a month -- or €270 a year.

"If you've a modern car, you could pay between 4 and 7 per cent more for your fuel by leaving the air conditioning on," said Conor Faughnan, spokesman for AA Ireland.

Driving with your wheels askew

Driving without your wheels properly aligned will also push up fuel bills by about 4 per cent, according to www.caraware.ie. So misaligned wheels will set you back €108 a year if you spend €225 a month on fuel, not to mention wear and tear on tyres.

Leaving the roofbox on your car

No matter how handy that car roofbox turned out to be on holiday, make sure you take it down once you come home. Driving around with a roofbox can push up your fuel consumption by between 14 and 18 per cent, according to Faughnan.

So you could pay an average of €40.50 a month extra in fuel if your keep the roofbox on your car when you don't need it.

The same applies to any extra weight you have in your car while driving -- including your precious golf bag or double buggy.

Driving with the wrong tyre pressure

Driving without your tyres pumped up to the right pressure will push up your fuel bill by as much as 4 per cent, says Eddie Ryan of the consumer awareness website, www.caraware.ie So on average, you'll pay €9 more a month -- or €108 a year -- more in fuel because you haven't pumped up your tyres properly.

You'll also have to replace your car tyres sooner than had you got them at the right pressure. Running a car fully loaded without increasing tyre pressures can reduce the service life of your tyres by up to 35 per cent, according to www.caraware.ie

Not insisting on a spare key

You might not be the kind of person to lose your car key while hiking up a mountain -- but it happens.

So when you're buying your car, whether it's new or used, make sure you get a spare set of keys -- otherwise, you could be a few hundred euro less off if you lose your key. A new car key for a 2.4l Volvo V70, for example, could easily set you back about €340.

roadside assistance

Roadside assistance can cost anything from €60 to about €180 a year. But if you have comprehensive car insurance, chances are your policy already includes a certain amount of roadside assistance. So you could be paying for standalone road-side assistance cover when you already have it under

your insur-ance.

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