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Save money on your car

Hellen Njeri @njerihelen

Owning and operating a vehicle is the second-largest household expense. If you want to know in advance what kind of outlay to expect before you purchase a new vehicle, run your options first to estimate the out-of-pocket costs such as fuel, taxes, maintenance, financing and annual insurance plus depreciation of a car for the first five years you own it.

This projection will allow you to compare vehicles beyond initial sticker price. Once the car is parked in your parking lot, however, there are a variety of tips that will help you save thousands of shillings over its life.

1. Control your speed

They say speed thrills but kills; but besides the dangers that come with glut speed, is the high consumption of fuel: mileage typically decreases once your speed exceeds 50 mph. Every five miles per hour you drive above 50 mph is like paying an additional few cents per gallon of fuel.

Driving sensibly helps: speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking are the quickest ways to waste fuel. Such aggressive driving can lower your fuel mileage by 33 per cent at highway speeds and by five per cent around town according to Shell.

2. Stop idling

While parking, turn the engine off. Idling can use one to three litres of fuel per hour; restarting your vehicle, on the contrast, only takes about 10 seconds worth of fuel. And do not leave the engine to warm up during cold season: Most manufacturers recommend driving your car slowly 30 seconds after starting it to warm it up.

4. Observe your AC operations

Running the air conditioning can increase a vehicle’s fuel consumption by more than 25 per cent.

Drive with your AC off and windows rolled down at leisurely speed around the city. However, while on high speed windows should be rolled up to reduce wind resistance, which creates drag: consequently causing the engine to work harder and therefore uses more fuel. If this habit is repeated over and over again it saves a great deal of your fuel per year.

6. Keep tyres inflated

Making sure you have got proper pressure can improve your fuel mileage by 3.3 per cent. Going by the maximum pressure level printed on the tyres can sometimes be misleading: you can find the correct tyre pressure level for your car printed on a sticker in the driver’s side doorjamb or glove box.

Also check the user manual or try buying a tyre gauge and check your pressure about once a month, as tyres lose pressure as time goes by: depending on the condition of the roads around your area. Experts say savings can go up to about Sh10,000 a year or even up to Sh80,000 for drivers with severely under-inflated tyres and depending on your car’s general consumption.

7. Look for best deals and offers

To find the lowest fuel price in your area, consider using the media promotions or apps to catch the best deals in town but remember not to drive out of your way to save. Instead look for the cheapest station along your commute route. If your car is being used by more than one person, try using pay cards to experience benefits from any offers available. This will help you save more at the pump

9. Shop around for insurance

Car insurance is meant to provide protection from a large financial burden in the event of a crash, but how do you avoid paying too much for coverage? Shopping around can yield big savings. It is advisable to shop every six months or close to your renewal time.

Driving safely to avoid frequent claims gives you a stronger bargaining power to negotiate a lower rate. Check out for new legislation that might come with fluctuations in price. Some insurance companies have extra benefits attached to their covers: like free towing services and annual car check-up.

Once your car is 10 years old or worth less than 10 times the premium, the cost of repairing it could be more than the car is worth: avoid expensive cover on such but also make sure your key-risk is covered. Insuring your home, car and other needs with a single company could bring your rates down by about 10 per cent a year.

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