Most Australians have made a significant investment in their humble automobile. After all, they rely on this vehicle to get them back and forth to work so that they can earn a living and need to make sure that it is kept in the best possible condition. Yet still, a lot of people are reactive rather than proactive and end up spending much more money on maintenance than they need to. If you fall into this camp, how can you introduce some fairly simple habits to help manage your automotive budget?
Fostering Good Habits
Begin by having a good look at the interior of the car. While most of the mechanical components may be up front or underneath, you should focus on keeping the interior as clean and fresh as possible to foster good habits. If you're proud of the way your passenger compartment looks, then psychologically you may pay more attention to mechanical maintenance, and this is definitely a good place to start.
At the very least, introduce some covers to protect the seats, give the carpet a good clean and fit all-weather rubber mats. Invest in some window shades or a light tint so that you can keep ultraviolet damage to its minimum. When you've done all of this, don't allow any unruly passengers to undo your good work.
Next, you need to tune yourself in to the behaviour of your car so that you become aware of any problems before they get larger and develop into a crisis. At least once a week when you're on your way to work, turn off the radio and any other distractions and just listen to your vehicle. Can you hear any strange noises or unusual vibrations?
If you do this more often, you can be less reactive and take the vehicle in to your mechanic for their input. Otherwise, don't be surprised if your vehicle grinds to a halt when you're blaring some hard rock music inside.
Watch Your Mileage
Pick up a small notebook at your local store and begin to track your fuel consumption. Make a note of the mileage and the amount of petrol purchased and compare this against the ideal consumption figures for this vehicle. If you do this regularly, you will begin to notice new problems when your fuel consumption goes into gradual decline. Once again, you can ask your mechanic for advice when such a situation develops, and it will also help you to save money at the petrol station.
When Habits Pay off
As you can see, all you need to do is change some of your habits and become more attuned to your vehicle. You will soon end up with more control over your annual expenditure.
If, like me, you like to drive and are something of a petrol-head, then feeling confident is part of what it is all about when motoring. Knowing what to do if you face a hazard on the road or how to deal with a blowout is all part of the driving experience, to me. Having said that, few motorists really know what checks they should be making to ensure their car is properly roadworthy. I've spent the last few years upgrading my car maintenance skills and - although I'm no qualified mechanic - I now undertake all sorts of jobs needed to keep my car running properly and safely. Read my blog and pick up some car maintenance tips that anyone can do.