For your average New Zealander, keeping a car running efficiently can be one of their biggest annual expenses. When poor maintenance, inefficient driving habits and untimely accidents are thrown into the mix, these costs can quickly skyrocket.

Being aware of the factors that impact your car’s running costs is easier than you think and can save you a surprising amount of money. Read on to find out how you can cut your bills down with some simple habits.

1. Invest in good services and repairs

Referring to your car owner’s manual when deciding on repairs or servicing is a good start. Neglecting – or even over-doing – your vehicle’s maintenance can quickly increase your spending. This is because your vehicle’s manufacturers have put time and effort into providing guidelines on extending the lifespan of different parts of your vehicle, so it would be foolish to ignore this helpful guide.

It is recommended that you get your tyres balanced yearly to minimise the wear on your tread and reduce damage to your suspension system. This simple procedure can significantly increase the lifespan of your tyre tread, saving you money in the long term.

Keeping your vehicle’s engine tuned is also vital to reducing running costs, as a poorly tuned engine can use up to 25-33% more fuel per year than a well-tuned car.

2. Do easy maintenance yourself

There are a number of small vehicle maintenance tasks you can do yourself that will reduce your mechanic’s bill and extend the life expectancy of various parts.

Ensuring your car’s fluids are topped up consistently will allow your engine’s components to operate smoothly. Engine oil, transmission fluid and battery water are just a few of these you should keep an eye on. You can find simple-to-follow instructions for all of these fluid top-ups with a simple web search using your car’s make and model.

Another easy DIY fix is replacing your air filters. This task only takes around 15-20 minutes and usually doesn’t require any tools. Over time, engine and cabin air filters accumulate large amounts of dust which can clog the airways. This can cause your engine to work harder and can reduce its lifespan.

3. Look after your tyres

Making a habit of checking your tyre pressure regularly is vital to minimising unnecessary running costs. Energywise NZ recommends checking your tyres monthly to keep them at an efficient level.

Low air levels can force your car to work harder to overcome road resistance, in turn increasing your fuel usage and affecting handling and braking. In the long term, consistently low tyre pressure can also increase the rate at which your tyres deteriorate.

Most car models can be equipped with fuel-efficient tyres. These low-rolling-resistance tires reduce the friction the tyre must overcome when it accelerates. International research has shown that equipping these efficient tyres can reduce your fuel consumption by three percent, which equates to a saving of around 40 litres annually for an average New Zealand driver.

4. Learn economical driving habits

Following some simple economic driving tips can quickly address inefficient road habits and help reduce your yearly expenditure.

A key habit is taking a smooth approach to driving. Letting your car slow down naturally and accelerating lightly will allow you to optimise fuel consumption. When driving, look ahead and plan your next manoeuvre in advance to reduce the need to brake and accelerate inefficiently.

When your car comes to a halt, ask yourself “Is the car is going to be stationary for more than 30 seconds?” If so, then go ahead and turn your engine off, as idling your car will just waste fuel.

Another simple routine to follow is to remove any excess weight – such as roof boxes – from your car when they’re not in use.