Buying a car is one thing, staying on the road is another. From insurance to maintenance, keeping your car running smoothly isn’t always cheap. But if you’re smart about it, there are some simple ways to keep the costs down. Here are some tried and tested tips to keep in mind.

1. Pick the insurance that’s right for you

Before you a buy a car, you need to think about insurance. It’s best to shop around beforehand, as the type of cover you take out will impact the ongoing cost of your vehicle.

While it’s good to have an emergency fund, it pays to have an insurance plan that covers all the bases. By law, you must have compulsory third party insurance (CTP), which covers death and injury to people if you’re involved in an accident. Additional types of insurance include third party property insurance, third party property, fire and theft insurance, and comprehensive insurance.

If you’re looking to save on insurance, it’s worth knowing that cheaper cars are generally cheaper to insure and modified cars tend to be more expensive to insure. If your car is equipped with certain security features, this will also reduce the cost of insurance. If you think you need additional insurance for your car, make sure you look around and compare premiums for the same type of cover.

To help you keep track of your finances, it’s also worth considering the Pay As You Drive option – particularly if you don’t drive that often. You get all the benefits of comprehensive car insurance, but you only pay for what you plan to use. It’s becoming a popular way to cut down on insurance costs.

In fact, Pay As You Drive Car Insurance has grown to 50% share of new policies in FY16/17 from 43% FY15/16.

2. Budget for service and maintenance

Car maintenance and repairs are one of the major surprise costs of owning a car. If you’ve haven’t budgeted for this, the costs can really set you back. But the fact is, every car will need maintenance or repairs at some point. This could be anything from an oil change, tune up, and new tyre, to fixing the heating, air conditioning, engine or transmission. So, how much money should you factor in?

To start, look back at your records. How much did you spend on maintenance and repairs in the last 12 months? Add up all your receipts and card transactions to get the total amount, and then divide this by 12 to get your average monthly costs.

This will give you a ballpark figure of how much you should expect to spend. Before you settle on this figure, make sure you adjust it to reflect the current condition of your car. If your car is a little older, and you expect it might need work in the next year, factor this into your budget.

To keep on top of your expenses, separate your car service and maintenance funds into a separate savings account. Make sure you add the designated amount each month, so that when the time comes, you’ll be safely covered.

3. Set a plan for petrol and cleaning

It’s safe to say, fuel is expensive. Maintenance and insurance aside, running a car can cost a lot. So to help you manage the finances and stay on top, it’s best to have a plan in place.

One simple option is to consider buying a more fuel-efficient car, which can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Before you make the big purchase, think about the distances you intend to travel depending on your lifestyle, and how much you’ll need to refuel. Talk to car experts or jump online to find out more about fuel efficiency, and whether diesel or petrol is your best option.

Washing and cleaning your car is also extremely important. It helps prevent dust, dirt, salt, bug remains, and air-borne pollutants damaging your paint and finish. If you’ve got the time, doing it yourself will save you money. Otherwise, shop around for an affordable car wash company to take care of the task for you.