Ditching public transport for your car? Here’s how to cut the cost of driving

young student getting in the car instead of public transport

As we settle into the second year of the global pandemic, it's obvious some Aussies are changing their tune when it comes to getting around. 

Take New South Wales, for example. According to Opal data from Transport for NSW, public transport usage was down 44% from 2019 to 2020. Only 32.5 million people jumped on the bus, train, ferry or light rail in December last year, compared to 58.5 million the same time the year before. 

With many people working from home and some even moving out of the Greater Sydney area, it's no surprise that the number of public transport passengers is down. 

Plus, when compared to the traffic stats over a similar period, it shows that many Aussies feel more comfortable jumping in their car instead. In fact, a spokesperson for Transport NSW recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that the number of vehicles on the road in NSW is only down 4%, with an average of 107 million per day compared to 112 million a year ago. 

Mozo Director, Kirsty Lamont said she’s not surprised with this statistic. 

“It makes sense that many people in New South Wales, and in other states, are opting to get behind the wheel of their own car to avoid the risk of potential exposure to Covid 19 on public transport,” she said.

“But while ex-public transport commuters might be saving on their daily bus, train or ferry fair, there are other costs associated with taking a car instead, like petrol, tolls and parking. So, it’s all about being savvy when it comes to day to day driving expenses so you aren’t forking out too much.” 

So what are some ways to save if you opt to drive?  

Cars can be expensive, there’s no doubt about that. However, there are some tips and tricks to lowering the cost of your car - particularly if you are driving it regularly. 

Here are some things you can do: 

  • Fill up petrol on the cheapest day: Whether you have a half empty or empty tank, if you see cheap petrol make sure you fill up. This will save you precious dollars if petrol prices hike back up.  
  • Avoid expensive car parks: Parking can cost an arm and a leg, particularly in metropolitan areas. It’s important to avoid them as the daily cost of leaving your car there can really stack up. If you need to park a bit further away and walk, not only are you keeping your bank account happy but your body too! 
  • Take the toll-free route: If you can avoid a toll this will clearly save you money when you drive. While this is not always achievable, going toll-free is worth considering.
  • Make extra repayments on your car loan: Still got a loan attached to your vehicle? Why not make a few additional contributions towards your debt and lessen the interest you pay overall. It’s a simple way to lower the cost of your car. 
  • Find a better car insurance deal: If you’ve started using your car more often it may be worth checking your insurance policy and see if you are getting a good deal. In many cases, premiums go up year-on-year so don’t be afraid to shop around or ask your current insurer for a loyalty discount. 
  • Drive sensibly and safely: By sticking to road rules, you’ll save yourself from paying for things like fines, insurance claims and repairs. Plus you’ll also be keeping both yourself and others safe on the road. 
  • Ensure your car has been serviced: Make sure that your car is fully functional and has been serviced by a reliable mechanic recently. The last thing you need is to break down and have to pay any towing or repair costs. 

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 car loan features to look for when buying your first car 

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