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5 tips for drivers: how to save money when prices are rising

April 22, 2022

According to the Department of Statistics, in March, inflation caused by rising raw material prices and additionally fueled by the war in Ukraine rose to a record 15.6 percent in Lithuania and is the largest since 1994. It affects today’s car market in two ways: vehicle prices and maintenance rises as well as fuel gets more expensive. Experts at CityBee, a short-term car rental platform, advise how drivers can save during inflation.

“In many cases today, a car can be considered a luxury item. Although Lithuanians buy inexpensive, often used cars, their maintenance (repair, fuel, insurance) requires much more money. According to Eurostat data from 2020, as much as 10% of all expenditures of Lithuanian households were attributed the maintenance of their own cars. This is the highest figure in the EU,” says Marius Hoppenas, the Chief Operating Officer of CityBee.

But there are several ways drivers can cut the costs, he adds.

Recommends combining different means of movement

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, on average a personal car spends unused 90% of all time. Those looking to save money are advised to consider whether they can use the car more efficiently.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, new cars have risen in price by around 20%, and used cars by even more. But at the same time, we gained more opportunities to work from home. So, it is worth considering whether the household needs more than one car, or whether it is really worth it for a family that goes on vacation once or twice a year to owe a large car all the time,” the expert comments.

The termination of supplies from Belarus and Russia have led to higher prices of raw materials and it is expected that the same would happen for the prices of tires, consumables and car parts. According to Hoppenas, some of these costs can be avoided or reduced by choosing to combine several different vehicles for travel from point A to point B.

“People living in the city have a lot of such opportunities. For example, you can cooperate with a colleague on travelling to work and choose a scooter, walking by foot or a car-sharing service for returning home or taking short trips,” says Hoppen.

According to him, car sharing accounts for 11 percent fewer kilometres travelled when compared to a personal car.

“After giving up the car, a person walks or uses public transport for a part of the distances he would have travelled by car in the past. In addition to that, the driver does not have to pay for parking. Furthermore, one shared car equals to as many as 12 personal cars, thus contributing to a more sustainable and cleaner environment,” says the expert.

Choose a fuel-efficient car

If you still need your own car – for instance, when you live or work in the suburbs, further from public transport, etc. – then it is recommended to choose a fuel-efficient car.

“At the moment, one of the most expensive raw materials is oil. Its price is likely to rise even higher in the future due to the aim to move away from Russian oil. Electricity prices have also risen sharply recently. Thus, when choosing a car, it is more important than ever to evaluate its energy consumption,” says Hoppen.

According to him, this makes it worth it to choose new petrol cars that are more fuel efficient.

“For example, the average age of cars in our fleet is 13 months, and we see that the average real fuel consumption in the city is 7-8 l per 100 km. That’s around 30 percent less compared to 10 years-old cars,” says Hoppenas.

He adds that hybrid cars are also fuel efficient. It is also advisable to consider purchasing an electric car, if you have the option of installing a car charging station next to your home, and better yet, if it is powered by a solar power plant.

Regular maintenance of a car

Although many drivers only visit the car service in the event of a vehicle breakdown, regular maintenance and a technically tidy car help saving both fuel and money by preventing major and costly repairs in the future.

“Unchanged air filters or filter oils, unsuitable tires or a faulty brake system can affect a vehicle’s fuel consumption and, additionally, air pollution and road safety. Therefore, it is recommended to have them thoroughly inspected by a specialist at least once a year or more often,” advises Hoppen.

Drive economically

Economical driving can save a lot of money every year, increase road safety and slow down wear and tear of a car, and to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 25%, according to the Canadian government.

“The faster you move, the higher the fuel or energy consumption of the car. Therefore, allow at least 5 seconds when driving, especially in the city to accelerate the vehicle to 20 km / h. Also, maintain a

constant average speed: it has been proven that, for example, by changing the speed from 75 to 85 km / h every 18 seconds fuel consumption can increase by as much as 20%. Use an autopilot on highways when traffic conditions allow it,” says Hoppenas.

The expert also advises to closely monitor the traffic and maintain a safe distance to the vehicle in front. By predicting how other road users will behave, you will be able to maintain a more even speed and use less fuel, and this way of driving will be safer and more environmentally friendly.

“You will also drive economically when adhering to the speed limit. For example, when driving at 120 km / h speed, the vehicle consumes around 20 percent more fuel than when driving at 100 km / h. And on a 25 km journey, time reduced by higher speeds is just 2 minutes,” says the Chief Operating Officer of CityBee.

Additionally, use low rolling resistance tires, which can reduce energy consumption by around 5%. On top of all that, assess whether you need everything you have in the vehicle and on its roof (trunks, holders). Aerodynamic drag on the highway can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent.

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