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Do you know how much it costs to keep your car on the road every day? Or, more precisely, do you know how much your car costs you daily, even when it is parked in the garage over weekends? It is important for all vehicle owners to understand that the cost of owning a vehicle goes far beyond only the cost of fuel.

Too many people assume the cost of the vehicle is the repayment of the loan (if they have one), and the cost of fuel. But, in reality, the cost of vehicle ownership extends further, and vehicle owners must know exactly how much they are spending on their cars, and where it is going.

In a recent survey, we sent out to our Members on vehicle ownership costs, almost 40 percent of those polled said they don’t know how much it costs to own and run their cars every month. This despite the fact that the most common issues affecting motorists are rising fuel costs, maintenance costs, and unexpected repair expenses.

There are many variables which determine the amount of money spent on a vehicle daily, weekly, monthly and annually. It is important for vehicle owners to understand these variables and, if necessary, manage them better to ensure they do not overspend on their vehicles. The key to reducing total cost of ownership of a vehicle goes beyond simple managing fuel consumption.

The type of car you drive, how you drive, the fuel you use (and where you fill-up), the tyres you use, the terrain you drive on, the kilometres you drive daily, weekly, monthly and annually, and the insurance cover you have on the vehicle are just some of the factors you need to consider when calculating the true cost of keeping your car on the road.

Things such as maintenance and service plans, installment payments, and unexpected expenses such as cracked windshields and windows (which, for a small number of owners is covered by insurance, but even this may require excess payments), should also be factored into the total cost of ownership of a vehicle.

If, for instance, your drive a small sedan at the coast, the total AA rate calculated on the vehicle may be R 3,35 per driving kilometre which amounts to R 67 000 if you drive 20 000 km a year. An SUV driven inland over the same distance is going to be markedly more expensive – around R 137 000 per year, or R 3,75 per day. But, importantly, this doesn’t only cover the cost of fuel, it also covers all costs associated with keeping the car on the road. People working on a budget, especially in these tough economic times, must keep a track of these expenses to ensure their vehicle is adequately covered financially at all times.

Too many motorists or motorcyclists only factor in their fuel costs when calculating how much their vehicles cost them monthly. This leaves these road users financially exposed as they may not be setting enough money aside for emergencies.

Owning a vehicle has many associated costs. If you own a car or motorbike, make sure you calculate all the variables such as tyres, services, insurance, and, in the case of motorbikes – replacement gear – into your monthly budget. Doing this will give you a more accurate picture of the cost of owning the vehicle, even when it is not being used.

Owning a vehicle requires planning for once-off expenses such as tyres and maintenance. If you haven’t planned for these expenses, they will seem expensive, especially if the costs are higher than you expect.

Part of planning for an annual vehicle budget is tracking current expenses by category such as tyres, maintenance and fuel. This will allow you to budget future expenses based on historical data of your usage.

Even though it may seem like a lot of work, knowing exactly how much you are spending on your vehicle – even when it is in your garage – is important to managing your vehicle’s expenses properly and, if needed, altering certain elements such as your routes and driving habits, to mitigate the impact of rising costs.

Take the time to look at where you can make any savings, and do what you can to bring costs down. Even small savings build up over time and may save you thousands of rands in the long run.

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