By Shell on Oct. 12, 2021
Some of the money we spend on our cars is fixed by forces beyond our control – think registration. But the total cost of almost every other aspect of car ownership is up for negotiation. Insurance costs can be reduced by careful research and chasing the best deal. How you drive – proactive or reactive – can have a real impact on fuel, tyre and servicing costs.
How you care for your car also matters. Neglect some simple car-care jobs and you can be upping its fuel, tyre and servicing costs while tanking resale. If you want more money to stay in your bank account rather than going towards your car – and to ensure your car is ready to roll for a spring day trip or long-awaited weekend away – make these five simple jobs part of a regular maintenance ritual.
1. Wash it
Dirt, grit and gunk accelerates wear to your car's paintwork, trims, carpets, upholstery, and other materials. Keeping it clean with a weekly vacuum and wipe-down doesn't just make it look good, it protects your investment by maximising resale value. That could save you thousands when you trade up.
2. Clean debris from your scuttle
While you've got the vacuum out, pop the bonnet and check for dirt, dead leaves and other debris accumulating in the scuttle – this is the area below the windscreen, typically a big black bit of plastic with grilles and other junk-eating inlets. Debris here not only clogs cabin filters prematurely, it can find its way into the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and cause issues. Keep this area clean and you'll be maximising cabin-filter life and minimising the chance of costly repairs in the long-term. Make sure your car is completely dry to avoid any damage to your vacuum.
3. Give the under-bonnet zone a quick check
It's possible to avoid some breakdowns with simple regular checks of your car's key mechanicals. You don’t need to be a mechanic. Just pop your bonnet and take a few minutes to check fluid levels (oil, coolant, brake), the hoses and drive belts for kinks, fraying or other damage, and the battery for corrosion on the terminals or any damage (your owner’s manual will help you find where these are located). Spot an issue during this ritual and you'll be able to remedy it or schedule a fix with less inconvenience – and cost – than finding it by the roadside.
4. Check your tyres
Your car can only achieve its optimum fuel efficiency if its tyres are set to the correct pressures. Regular pressure checks are one way to ensure you are squeezing the most out of every tank of fuel. While you're doing that, run your eye over your tyres for cuts, uneven wear or other damage. Identifying and remedying the causes of any issues early will not only help you maximise tyre life but minimise the chances of experiencing a dangerous blow-out.
5. Ditch what you don't need
Stuff accumulates, so take stock each week of all the items you're carrying around in your car and consider whether you really need to be doing so. Weight is another key contributor to fuel economy and if you're lugging around items you don't use, you'll be burning more fuel than you have to. If it's a roof rack or box that also blunts your car's aerodynamics, remove it and keep it in the garage until you actually use it.