Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman
The Middle East is in turmoil and while it may seem a long way from the trauma of our own nation the effects will soon be felt by motorists at the petrol pumps. Crude oil prices have risen to US$100 a barrel on international markets as street protests in Libya escalate and concerns about the long-term disruption to the supply of crude oil grow.
According to the AA, around 40% of the pump price we pay is the actual cost of refined petrol and about 60% for diesel (about half of the petrol price is tax).
Higher crude prices will inevitable cause the pump prices to pass though the $2 a litre level, and cause consumers to ask how they can reduce their motoring costs. Here are a few suggestions.
- Bike or walk instead of taking the car. It is estimate that half of all journeys are less than 3km. Biking is four times faster than walking, and takes about the same time as a bus trip. And better still, the cost of buying and maintaining a bike is about 1% of the cost of buying and maintaining a car!
- Trade down to a smaller vehicle, but check that the smaller vehicle is actually more fuel efficient. According to the www.sustainability.govt.nz website, “generally, larger engines use more fuel than smaller engines, but within each engine size there is a wide range of fuel consumption rates. For example, the most efficient three-litre engine uses fuel more economically than the least efficient 1.6 litre engine.”
- Sell the seldom used vehicle and replace it with a motor scooter or bike if feasible.
- Become a better driver. Drive with a “soft” foot on the pedal. A manic driver who breaks heavily into corners and accelerates out of them will use 25% more fuel and a fast driver 10% more than a smooth driver. Slowing down from 110 km to 100 km will result in a 15% fuel saving. You will also avoid speeding tickets, and be safer!
- Make sure tyre pressures are right. According to Beaurepairs, every 10% under the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure costs about 2.5% in extra fuel consumption.
- Turn off the air conditioner. A car's air conditioning system needs power, which comes from the engine. Air conditioners can use about 10 per cent extra fuel when operating.
- Make sure your vehicle is tuned. A poorly maintained vehicle will consume 5% more fuel.
- The biggest single cost of owning a car is the loss in resale value. The oily rag rule here is to buy used not new (funny how this rule does not seem to apply to politicians buying BMWs!). If you buy brand new you are likely to lose 30% of its value by the end of the first year, 15% in the second year and 5% every year after that. If you buy a used car that is one year old it will probably lose 25% in the first year of ownership and about 7% every year after that. If you buy a used car that is two years old or older, you can expect to lose about 10% of its cost every year.
- An oily rag reader says the best buy is a car that is a few years old, with around 80,000 kms on the clock. It should give trouble free motoring for at least another 100,000 kms, or about 7 years use for the average family.
- A reader from Kaitaia s says, “Sometimes it is better value to rent a vehicle than take your own, especially if your vehicle is an older one that is unreliable. You get an almost new vehicle to use, it will probably be cheaper to run petrol-wise, more comfortable to drive, and you get no wear and tear on your own car. By shopping around and booking early if possible you can get absurdly cheap deals. We rang around and got a deal with unlimited k's and at a price less than it would have cost to run our own vehicle after taking maintenance and depreciation into account.”
If you have a favourite tip share it with others by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.
* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.