Pumped up petrol prices impact on car maintenance

Most of us dread those petrol price-hike Wednesdays and quickly begin to feel the pressure it puts on our purse strings.

Yet these hikes, like the recent 60 cents per litre, don’t just punch holes in our fuel budgets, they also directly impact on the cost of owning a vehicle.

Pieter Niemand, Director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), says that the recent increase is a big shock for many motorists, leaving some wondering how long they will be able to sustain the costs associated with their vehicles. He explains that every petrol price increase means more is paid towards petrol costs, making less available for the maintenance of the vehicle.

Although this could lead to more unroadworthy vehicles on the road, Niemand adds that this does not have to be the case. He believes that now is the time for vehicle owners to review their vehicle costs and look at cost-saving alternatives that won’t compromise their vehicle or safety and he has a few tips to share.

Don’t skimp on maintenance
Regular maintenance of your vehicle is the only way to ensure it remains roadworthy and it’s a money-saving exercise in the long run because major breakages on a vehicle are very expensive. Regular servicing can prevent that. It’s also the best way to prolong the life of your vehicle and keep it more fuel efficient.

Shop around
When it comes to cost savings for maintenance, shop around. There are excellent accredited workshops that are fully aware of the expenses motorists face and will offer top-class service at a reasonable price.

So chat to the mechanic about pricing. Maybe ask for a staggered maintenance programme with staggered payments or another solution. Remember, independent workshops charge less than dealers.
According to Niemand, the key is finding a workshop that is accredited and affiliated to an association, such as MIWA. In this way you can be assured that the workmanship has a stamp of approval and should you be dissatisfied with the service, you have a channel to go through to lodge a complaint.

Also bear in mind that independent workshops are small businesses that need to stay afloat in a highly-competitive market. Keeping their clients satisfied is essential to their sustainability and also results in repeat business. More often than not they’ll go the extra mile for you.

In terms of being more fuel efficient, Niemand says that most modern vehicles are equipped with engine management systems, which operate at the most fuel-efficient settings under most conditions, but stresses that no computer-based system can control the actions of the driver. Here’s his guide on how to get more k’s per litre:

Drive stingy
• Accelerate at an even pace in traffic. Short bursts of the accelerator will increase fuel consumption.
• Drive in a lane which has the least traffic ahead to maintain a constant speed. The engine management system will adjust the most economical settings for the best fuel consumption.
• The first start-up after a lengthy stand is the one which has the richest fuel mixture, so avoid harsh acceleration whilst the engine is still cold as this will spike the consumption figure dramatically. Do not idle a cold engine to warm it up, as this will not improve the fuel consumption nor lengthen the life of the engine.
• If you are in heavy traffic with long idling times, don’t be afraid to turn off the engine and restart once the traffic starts moving again.
• Modern engines are now being equipped with this function to aid fuel saving. However prevent continuous switch-offs as this will drain the battery.