Spending Shakedown – Auto and Transport

For most of us spending on Auto & Transport is a necessity and can’t be avoided. But there are may ways you can squeeze down your spending this category.

Here are our tips:

Petrol & Car Expenses

There are 3 key ways to reduce your spending on Petrol & Car expenses:

  • Drive less – walk, cycle or take public transport are all viable options in some circumstances
  • Fill up with petrol when petrol is cheap – and keep you car full when it’s cheap
  • Always buy petrol at the cheapest petrol station you can find – don’t fall for brand loyalty or you’ll pay more than you need to. And don’t think your discount vouchers will get you the best price – often they won’t

Your MoneyBrilliant app will alert you when petrol prices are at the bottom of the price cycle. Just make sure your suburb is correct in your MoneyBrilliant profile.

The average Australian motorist can save at least $260 a year by being smart about when and where they buy their petrol. We’ve done a lot of research on this.

You can read more about spending less on petrol here.

Another simple way to reduce your petrol expenses is to keep your tyres properly inflated. Inflate your tyres to the top of the range specified by your tyre or car manufacturer and check them regularly.

Keeping your tyres properly inflated will also help prevent premature wear on the tyres and minimise your spend on tyres. When it’s time to replace your tyres shop around. You’ll find significant price variation between different tyre retailers and different brands. If you’re lucky you’ll manage to get the right tyres on sale and save a lot. Search for deals using your favourite search engine or use the Lasoo catalogue site.

And finally, if you are a 2 car family who doesn’t use your second car often, it is worth doing the sums and seeing if you will be better off using public transport, Uber, a taxi or a car service like Go Get or Car Next Door for the times you need the convenience of a second car.


With Parking costs, the best option is don’t drive your car and avoid the parking expenses altogether. If you have to drive and park then consider these options:

  • Park further away where there are free parking options or parking is cheaper
  • If you are parking regularly see if you can rent a car space cheaply. There are a number of web sites and apps to help you including www.parkhound.com.au, www.justbooked.com.au
  • Look for early bird parking options. Most large public parking stations offer Early Bird Parking options that will save you quite a bit of money
  • Sometimes you can find car spaces for rent on Gumtree or you may wish to do a letterbox drop in the area and see if somebody has some space to rent out in their garage or driveway
  • Book in advance – many car parks offer discounts if you book in advance
  • Make sure you are using any discounts you are entitled to. You might be able to use your motoring club membership to get a discount. For example, NRMA members are entitled to 10% off pre-booked casual parking and 30% off evening and weekend parking booked online with Secure Parking and RACQ members enjoy similar discounts with Secure Parking.
  • If you are parking while shopping you might get free parking if you prove you have shopped.

Public Transport & Taxis

Chances are if you have significant Public Transport costs you are already traveling pretty efficiently. Not many options beat the cost-effectiveness of Public Transport, but there are some ways to squeeze down your spending on Public Transport. Here are some tips:

  • Travel more on Public Transport – Most Public Transport systems have caps on spending – so to some extent the more you use them the more you will save. Opal in NSW has a daily cap of $16.10 for Adults, $8 a day for kids and $2.50 a day for seniors. It also has weekly caps of $50 for Adults, $25 for kids and $17.50 for Seniors. It’s even better on Sundays with a cap of $2.80! On the Opal system you also only pay full price for the first 8 trips each week – after that, they are half price. Queensland’s Translink go card provides similar discounts – 30% cheaper than single fare paper tickets and your 9th and any subsequent journey in a week is charged at half price
  • Travel off-peak – Most Public Transport systems also offer discounts for off-peak travel so it’s cheaper if you can adjust your travel times to avoid peak hours. NSW’s Opal system has a 30% discount on metro and train fares for off-peak travel. MYKI in Victoria also provides a 30% discount for off-peak travel. Queensland Translink go card also offers 20% discounts for off-peak travel

If you want to save even more you could try:

  • walking or cycling rather than catching public transport
  • check out the public transport zones and see whether you can get on or off a zone closer and save even more on your fare

If it’s spending on Taxis there are almost certainly some ways you can spend less. Here are our tips:

  • try Public Transport and use the tips above to save even more
  • try walking or cycling
  • try using Uber Pool instead of regular Uber or taxis

Car Insurance & CTP

Most people can save a huge amount on car insurance (and other insurance for that matter). The keys to minimising your spend on car insurance are:

  • Shop around – there almost never a benefit for loyalty. In fact most of the time there is a penalty. So every year, compare what you pay, negotiate with your current provider if you have the time and if you have to switch to get a better deal then do it! The easiest way to shop around is to use a comparison site (some examples include comparethemarket, Finder, and Canstar) or visit the online quoting pages of the major insurers. We’d suggest the main motoring club in your state (NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, AANT, RACT or RAC) as well as Woolworths, Coles, Suncorp, Allianz, and QBE. You might not have the time to visit them all – so pick a handful and compare the prices. You’ll be shocked at the price differences. Be careful to make sure you are comparing similar features – the amount your car is insured for, whether the policy is market value or agreed value, and the excess are the main things
  • Chop out anything you don’t need – for example, don’t pay for other drivers or for young drivers if you won’t have anyone else driving your car
  • Look at the excess options – if you need to save some money on the premium you might be able to increase the excess
  • Look at combining policies, you may get a discount for bundling home, contents and car or just more than one policy
  • Sometimes paying annually works out cheaper than paying monthly – if that’s the case and you can then pay upfront
  • Make sure you include details of your current no-claim bonus
  • If you don’t drive often, check out Pay as you Drive Insurance Policies that cover you for the kilometres you drive

In some states, your Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is included in your registration and you can’t shop around. In QLD, ACT, SA, and NSW there are multiple CTP insurers and so you can shop around for the best deal.  In these states don’t just accept the renewal your existing provider will send you each year. It’s highly likely you’ll end up paying more than you need to.

In all cases, be wary of other sites that might not compare all options available in the market.

Car Servicing

If you’ve recently purchased a brand new car it might have included free or fixed price servicing for a period of time. In these circumstances, you might find it cheapest to have your car serviced by the dealer. If you purchased an extended warranty with the car you may also have to have it serviced by the dealer. But in most other cases this will be an expensive option and you’d be better to shop around and find a cheaper option.

Be wary of dealers who insist you have your car serviced with them so you don’t lose your warranty. The ACCC have made it clear that this is not correct. Provided your car is serviced in accordance with the manufacturers specifications your warranty will not be affected. Dealers might also tell you that they need to do the servicing so that original parts can be used. Again, this is incorrect. According to the ACCC, provided quality parts are used your warranty will not be affected. Research by Choice suggests that original parts used in dealer servicing can cost up to 60% more than other quality alternatives.

You can read more about car servicing and warranty issues on the Choice web site and the ACCC web site.

Other popular alternatives to your dealer include:

Some motoring clubs such as RACV and NRMA may also offer discounts to their members.

Car Registration

In most cases Car Registration costs are driven by the weight of the car and its usage type (Private or Business). So you can, to some extent, minimise your Car Registration costs by buying a smaller, lighter and cheaper car. Hybrids and electric vehicles also attract registration concessions.

There are also some circumstances in which people are entitled to concessions or rebates so it’s worth checking. The main concessions and rebates are:



  • If you hold a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession card issued by Centrelink or Department of Veteran Affairs concession card you are entitled to a 50% discount on Car Registration. More details are available here


  • Concessions are available for Seniors Card holders, Pensioner Concession cardholders, primary producers and a number of other groups of people. More details are available here

South Australia

  • Concessions are available for Seniors Card holders, Pensioner Concession cardholders, primary producers and a number of other groups of people. More details are available here

Western Australia

  • Concessions are available for Seniors Card holders, Pensioner Concession cardholders, primary producers and a number of other groups of people. More details are available here

Northern Territory

  • Concessions are available for Seniors Card holders, Pensioner Concession cardholders, primary producers and a number of other groups of people. More details are available here


  • Concessions are available for Seniors Card holders, Pensioner Concession cardholders, primary producers and a number of other groups of people. More details are available here

Tolls & eTag

The most obvious way to minimise your spending on tolls is to take avoid the toll roads by not driving or taking an alternate route. This might be easier said than done and depending on your travel might be a false economy. If you can’t avoid the tolls all together use these tips to make sure you don’t pay more than you need to:

  • Make sure you have an eTag and that it is working – in most cases, if you don’t have an eTag or if it doesn’t work you’ll be slugged an additional fee for manually processing the toll. This is often more than the original toll, so make sure you have an eTag and it is working.
  • If any of your trips are for work, or partly for work, keep a record of the toll and claim it as a tax deduction
  • If you qualify for a rebate program make sure you claim your rebate

Toll Rebate programs


Car Rental

Renting a car can be expensive – especially if you rent at the last minute and don’t have time to do your research or if you rent from a “premium location” such as an airport. Like a lot of things, the best way to minimise your spending on Car Rental is to avoid it altogether. If you have to rent a car here are our tips on minimising your spend:

  • Do your research – use the rental company web sites to get a quote for what you are looking for and compare the prices
  • Hire the car from a non “premium location” if you can. You will generally pay extra for hiring a car from the places most people need them like airports. If you can, hire one from a suburban or city location
  • Get the smallest car you can – you almost always pay more for larger cars
  • Look for deals that are all-inclusive – don’t pay extra for the distance you travel, just the number of days you have the car
  • Be careful about “optional extras” and extra insurance that rental companies will try to sell you when you pick up the car – these are generally very, very expensive. you can use your phone rather than the rental company’s GPS. Insurance is a bit trickier but we’ve spelled out some options below
  • Always fill up the car with petrol before you return it – rental companies will charge you an exorbitant amount to fill the car up if you don’t
  • Look for discounts you might be entitled to – you might be able to use a corporate rate from your employer or a discount from your motoring club. Check to see what happens when you enter the promotional code for the plan or discount and make sure that it’s cheaper than the publicly available rate (it won’t always be!)
  • Try to return the car to the same place you hired it. you’ll generally pay extra to hire it from one location and return it to another
  • Remember to claim a part of the cost of car rental as a tax deduction if you used it for work or partly for work

Rental Car Insurance

Rental car insurance usually has a big, big excess amount. The rental company will generally try to sell you additional insurance to bring the excess down to a more modest level. But this additional insurance can be very expensive. In fact, in some cases, it will double the total cost per day of your rental car! Instead of taking the rental company’s additional insurance you could consider the following options:

  • Check your travel insurance – if you have it. Comprehensive travel insurance policies will generally cover the rental car excess amount
  • Credit card insurance – if you have a premium credit card that provides complimentary travel insurance it may cover you for car insurance excess amounts when traveling internationally. It probably doesn’t cover you if you are traveling domestically. These policies can be a bit tricky so make sure you understand how it works and what it covers before relying on it
  • Take out a specific, standalone policy to cover the rental car excess – several insurance providers sell standalone products to provide insurance for the excess amount. Some options to consider include Allianz Rental Vehicle Excess Insurance, RACV Rental Car Excess Insurance, NRMA Domestic Travel Insurance

You can get more details about the expenses and other pitfalls of renting cars in this Choice research.

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