Six tips to reduce the cost of car ownership

by Hafiz Rasid (hrasid@sph.com.sg)
published on 12 February 2016

For many people, a car is the first big purchase of their lives. But, once you have bought your car, there is the maintenance cost. To take the heat off your wallet, it is important to consider some aspects of car purchasing and maintenance to reduce expenses before and after your purchase.

 

CLEAR YOUR LOANS FASTER

When buying a car, take into account the accumulated interest in loans. This often creeps up on the car buyer, who may not even notice an increase in the car’s total costs. Mr Kevin Teng, the managing director for Infiniti and Renault, advises car buyers to repay their car loans much earlier. He said: “Car loan interest can hover in the 2.78 per cent range. Early payment will help to provide better savings in the long run.

 

GET A PRE-OWNED CAR

In line with that, Mr Raymond Tang, the first vice president of the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association (SVTA), said that pre-owned cars can reduce the total cost of buying a car. Mr Tang said: “Paying off a car loan is a long-term commitment. Take into account the five-year cap ruling the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has stipulated when purchasing a  new car. An affordable pre-owned car puts less financial stress on car buyers over a period of five years. ”He explained that a new car with a 10-year ownership period has a much higher monthly installment. This is because the high cost of a new car is paid in the same length of time as a pre-owned car, which commands a lower price.

 

KNOW YOUR CAR’S FEATURES

Being familiar with exactly how your car works can save you from forking out unexpected bills. If you made a switch from driving a manual stick shift to an automatic car, Mr Timothy Gay, managing director of  TLC Cars, advises car owners to handle the gear box carefully to avoid costly repairs. He said: “Drivers with automatic cars should stop, change gears and move off again. Changing gears while you are in motion can damage the gear box, and repairs to an automatic gearbox can be costly. ” He also stresses the importance of regular engine oil change. The oil acts as a lubricant, reducing friction and excessive heat when the engine is working. Engine oil used past its due may save you a few dollars in the short term, but the accumulated dirt may eventually cause damage to the engine, resulting in a hefty servicing price tag.

 

BE MORE FUEL-EFFICIENT

Buying a car designed with fuel efficiency in mind can help you shave off a significant amount of money for petrol. Mr Teng shared that fuel-efficient cars, such as the Renault Kadjarwith 3.9L/100km, can enable it to travel over 1,410km on a single tank. This, he explained, amounts to a fuel consumption of approximately $826 per year, compared to other cars that may average $2,683 per year, based on an assumed mileage of 20,000km a year.

 

USE HDB PARKING

Those who travel a lot in their jobs may want to familiarise  themselves with the nearest HDB parking lots at their destinations. Ms Nurainey Abu Bakar, a private nurse, often drives to meet her patients on-site. She feels parking in HDB parking lots does lower the cost of car ownership. She said: “There are plenty of housing areas around the island, and there are usually a number of available lots for drivers to park. HDB carparks are free on weekends, and are much cheaper on weekdays. It only costs you $10 for an all-day parking ticket.”

 

DON’T BREAK THE LAW

It may be tempting to skirt the law in the hope of saving a few dollars on your parking coupons. Ms Nurainey shared that while it is tempting to park your car temporarily without any coupons, the parking enforcement officers are usually vigilant, especially in places where there have been many cases of parking violations. Committing these parking offences can run up substantial expenses.