Auto Bits: How older drivers can cut vehicle costs
Tip of the Week
Many tactics can help you minimize vehicle costs, from doing basic maintenance tasks yourself to taking a driver safety course that could qualify you for insurance discounts. The driving experts at AARP recommend drivers 50 and older focus on three key areas of opportunity for cost-reduction:
- Insurance: Older drivers have lower rates of police-reported crashes per capita, limit their driving to familiar routes and better weather, and drive fewer miles than other age groups, but accident rates per mile start increasing when drivers reach 70, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Even if your personal driving record is clean, your age may put you in a demographic that insurance companies view as higher risk - and you'll pay higher auto insurance premiums because of it. Shopping around for auto insurance may help you secure a better rate, but if you're facing very high premiums, it may make sense to take an extra step. Many insurers offer discounts to drivers who complete driver safety courses. Check with your insurance company to see if such a discount is available to you, then look for a program, like AARP Driver Safety's course, that is specifically designed to help people 50 and older refresh their driving skills and adapt to age-related changes.
- Fuel efficiency: After insurance, fuel can be one of the highest costs of operating a vehicle, especially for those who travel far, such as older drivers commuting from winter to summer residences. Carmakers have improved overall fuel efficiency for many newer vehicles, but you can take steps to cut your gas costs more - even if you have an older car.
- Maintenance: With the average age of cars on the road approaching 11 years, according to R.L. Polk & Co., an automotive market research firm, routine maintenance is more important than ever. Doing simple tasks like oil changes, windshield wiper replacement and air filter changes yourself can help save you money.
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Q: I own a 2002 BMW. The brake pad warning light illuminated on the dash. I looked at the brake pads and they are worn front and rear. I did replace the pads and wear sensors and the wear indicator light is still on. Can you help?
A: After the pads and wear sensors are replaced, you must turn the ignition key to the on position and wait at least 30 seconds or more before starting the engine. If the light does not go out, the system will need to be checked. Identifix has the complete procedure at Identifix-Direct hit.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service