It’s best to service your car every 6 months. At the very least, changing the oil is required and this is advised by new car makers all over the world.

The mechanic will tell you other items that may need attention. Some items may need doing every 2-3 years, like the following:

The older the car, the more needs to be done. Cars older than 8 years or 150,000km generally cost too much to keep and it’s best to buy a new one. Some brands are better than others. Best to talk to your mechanic about your options as we are talking about a lot of money. By the time you purchase the car and maintain it for 8 years or longer, the costs add up.

Engine tune ups are now not required as the car computer controls the engine and when the engine starts to run bad usually parts have worn and just need to be replaced. There are no adjusters to adjust any more. Modern cars can go 80,000km before parts wear and need replacing. This could be 8 years for some people.

It is best to use the car maker’s service book to record your services. When the service book is finished, buy another.

There’s a trend these days to longer recommended service intervals. 15,000km is not unusual, with some makers even stretching to 20,000km.

RACQ technical staff are now seeing an increasing number of engines taht have sludged up the fine oil galleries inside them, to the point where the vital lubricating oil can no longer circulate.

Expensive damage results.

A bit like blocked arteries in the human body really, and it’s just as terminal for your car’s engine.

Look carefully at the owner’s handbook. Most will recommend an oil change more frequently, around 5000km if the vehicle is used under “severe conditions”, to prevent sludge forming. Typical city use is one of hte operating conditions defined as “severe”.

So don’t neglect your engine’s health. Oil is cheap, engines aren’t.

There are many stories about which fuel types to use. We have found that the best choice of fuel is what the car maker says to use in your country.

Most cars run fine on regular unleaded petrol.

Premium 95ron and 98ron cost more and have some minor performance improvement, but the cost to use this fuel wont save you enough money to be economical. One myth is that premium fuels are better by being more clean. Although this means your exhaust might be cleaner in gas emissions, your fuel system still will get cleaned with regular fuel.

Try different fuels yourself. Keep a logbook and you will see regular fuel gives the best return for money. Most of the best stories and reports we have heard come from people without log books. Some European cars are made to run premium 95, this is more to do with exhaust emissions. The engine computer will adjust to our fuels without any problems. Again refer to your service book to see what fuel to use.

RACQ have done studies on fuels. Results say regular is the best option.

The best way to get the most value from your car is to buy the car that’s best suited for you.

Ask your mechanic what cars are their favourite to work on why they like them.

Ask RACQ, read Choice magazine and use the Internet.

Google the brand of car and look for comments from other people. Some makes have pages of problems and you will see what makes are just Lemons and costly. Ask your Mum and Dad about their experiences.

Cars can change from model to model too. It might just be in 1995 one model was top of the line, but in 2004 a different one may be better. After you have made the best choice, service your car every six months.

Tips for Cost-Efficient Driving

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