Buying a Fuel-Efficient Car: How Over 60’s Can Save Money

By Darren Moffatt

October 10, 2023


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Fuel-efficient cars are now a hot topic, especially for Australian seniors feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis. With fuel prices climbing to a steep $2.05 per litre, every trip to the petrol station can feel like a dent in the wallet. A fuel-efficient car could be a smart solution to ease these weekly budget woes. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore some petrol and electric vehicle (EV) options in Australia, looking into their efficiency ratings. We’ll also discuss how alternative financing options such as a Reverse Mortgage can help you purchase your fuel-efficient retirement car. 

If you’re over 60 and the rising fuel costs are a concern, you’re in the right place to learn how a fuel-efficient car could be a wise pick to keep those costs down.

Understanding Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency simply means how far a car can go on a set amount of fuel. It’s crucial because the better the fuel efficiency, the less money you spend at the petrol pump. Plus, it’s a small but meaningful step towards keeping our environment cleaner.

Now, what affects fuel efficiency? Three big things:

  • Weight: Lighter cars use less fuel. It’s as simple as that.
  • Aerodynamics: Some cars are designed to glide smoothly through the air, saving fuel along the way.
  • Engine Tech: Newer engines have smart features to squeeze more distance out of each drop of fuel.

Measuring fuel efficiency is straightforward. For petrol cars, it’s about the litres used per 100 kilometres, or L/100km. Lower is better. For electric cars, it’s kilowatt-hours per 100 kilometres (kWh/100km). Again, lower is better.

Getting your head around fuel efficiency is a smart move if you’re eyeing a new car. It’s a win-win. You save money on fuel and do a bit for our planet too. When considering your next car, a look at its fuel efficiency could lead to more cash in your pocket, making every drive a bit sweeter.

Related Post: Buying Your ‘Retirement Car’? Consider These Senior-Friendly Features

Advantages of Fuel-Efficient Cars for Seniors

Picking a fuel-efficient car is a wise decision for seniors, especially when every dollar counts. 

Here are some advantages that come with fuel-efficient vehicles:

Lower Running Costs

Fuel-efficient cars are lighter on petrol, which means fewer trips to the fuel station and more money saved. This can be a big relief, especially when managing a tight budget. Over time, these savings add up, leaving more in your pocket for the things you enjoy.

A Friend to the Environment

By choosing a fuel-efficient car, you’re not just saving money, but also doing a part for our environment. These cars release less pollution and carbon emissions. It’s a simple yet impactful way seniors can contribute to a greener Australia for the next generations.

Government Incentives

Good news! The Australian government often provides incentives to promote the use of eco-friendly vehicles. This could be in the form of rebates or discounts, making it more affordable to buy a fuel-efficient or electric car. A little research can go a long way in finding a deal that sweetens the switch to a more efficient vehicle.

Top Fuel-Efficient Petrol Cars in Australia

If you’re keen on sticking with petrol while also wanting to save on fuel costs, there are some great cars on the Aussie market that balance both. Let’s have a look at a few top picks:

Toyota Corolla

Fuel Efficiency: The Toyota Corolla boasts a commendable fuel efficiency rating of about 6.0 L/100km.

Annual Savings: Considering the current fuel price of $2.05 per litre, driving a Corolla could save you a decent amount over the year compared to a less efficient car consuming, say, 10.0 L/100km. The savings can be about $520 annually, assuming an average driving distance of 15,000km per year.

Hyundai i30

Fuel Efficiency: The Hyundai i30 comes close with a fuel efficiency rating of around 7.0 L/100km.

Annual Savings: With the same assumptions, switching to an i30 could put about $390 back in your pocket each year. Not too shabby!

Kia Rio

Fuel Efficiency: The Kia Rio is another great pick with a rating of 6.2 L/100km.

Annual Savings: Over a year, the Rio could save you around $490, making every drive a bit more budget-friendly.

The beauty of these cars is they offer a smooth ride without guzzling petrol. Although the upfront costs may vary, the fuel savings alone make these cars a worthy consideration. 

Besides, there’s a nice peace of mind that comes with driving a car that’s gentle both on your wallet and the environment. With a fuel-efficient car, each drive along the sprawling Aussie coastline or through the bustling city streets becomes less costly and more enjoyable. 

Exploring Electric Vehicle (EV) Options

EVs are making a strong case for being the cars of the future. They offer impressive fuel efficiency and are a breeze to drive. Let’s look at some of the top EV options available in Australia. 

Nissan Leaf

Efficiency: Nissan Leaf is a crowd-pleaser with an efficiency of about 15.6 kWh/100km.

Annual Savings: Considering an average electricity rate of $0.25 per kWh, driving a Leaf could save you around $330 a year compared to a petrol car with a fuel efficiency of 10.0 L/100km, assuming 15,000km driven per year.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Efficiency: The Hyundai Kona Electric does better with around 15.0 kWh/100km.

Annual Savings: The savings clock in at about $345 a year, making it a sweet deal for those looking to cut down on fuel costs.

Tesla Model 3

Efficiency: Tesla Model 3 shines with an efficiency of about 14.7 kWh/100km.

Annual Savings: With annual savings of around $355, it’s not just a sleek car but a wise choice for the budget-conscious.

Charging Infrastructure in Australia is growing, making EVs a practical choice. More charging stations are popping up, and many are equipped with fast chargers to get you back on the road swiftly. For seniors, this growing network eases the transition to electric, making it a convenient choice.

Comparing the costs and benefits, EVs may have a higher upfront cost, but the lower running costs quickly balance the scales. The savings on fuel are substantial, and there’s a noticeable reduction in maintenance costs too, as EVs have fewer moving parts. Plus, driving electric is a solid step towards reducing carbon emissions.

Ideal Car for Adventurous Australian Seniors: Factors to Consider

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The golden years are the perfect time to explore the diverse landscapes of Australia, be it the vastness of the Outback, the serene coastline, or the bustling city streets. Choosing a car that aligns with your adventurous aspirations is the first step to many unforgettable journeys.

Key Features Adventurous Seniors Should Look For

  • Versatility and Off-road Capability: If your adventures involve diverse terrains, you’ll want a car that can handle both the rough and the smooth. Vehicles like the Subaru Outback, with its all-wheel-drive system, are designed to provide superior grip, be it on sandy beaches, gravel tracks, or wet roads.
  • Comfort for Long Drives: Adventure often means long hours on the road. Prioritise cars that offer comfortable seating, spacious interiors, and user-friendly tech features.
  • Safety Features: As much as adventure is about thrill, safety should never be compromised. Look for cars that come equipped with advanced safety mechanisms and have a good safety rating.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Given the rising fuel costs, as pointed out earlier, it would be wise to consider fuel efficiency as a key factor. This not only ensures fewer stops at the petrol station but also means more savings in the long run.

Considering Towing a Caravan?

Many seniors cherish the idea of travelling with a mobile home – the beloved caravan. When selecting a car, consider its towing capacity. For instance, while the Subaru Outback might be apt for towing small caravans or trailers, if you’re thinking of a larger caravan, vehicles like the Ford Ranger or Toyota LandCruiser might be more suitable due to their higher towing capacities.

Government Incentives and Support

Getting a fuel-efficient or electric car is a smart choice, and the Australian government often sweetens the deal with various incentives. These perks aim to encourage more folks to make eco-friendly vehicle choices. Here’s a glimpse into the support you might find:

Rebates and Discounts

Some states offer rebates or discounts on the purchase price of electric vehicles. This direct reduction in cost makes EVs and fuel-efficient cars more accessible.

Stamp Duty Exemptions

In certain states, when you buy a fuel-efficient or electric car, you could be exempt from the stamp duty. That’s a neat saving right off the bat.

Registration Discounts

You might find the annual registration fee is lower for electric or fuel-efficient vehicles, which is a yearly saving that quickly adds up.

For seniors managing a budget, these incentives can significantly lower the total cost of owning a car. And remember, this is on top of the fuel savings you’ll enjoy every day with a more efficient vehicle. It’s a fantastic way to make a positive choice for the environment while also being kind to your wallet. With the support from government incentives, making the switch to a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle is an even smarter, more budget-friendly decision. 

Financing Your Fuel-Efficient Car Through a Reverse Mortgage

Making the switch to a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle is a fantastic choice, but what if the upfront costs are holding you back? Well, there’s good news for homeowners. If you’re a senior citizen, a reverse mortgage might just be the ticket to getting behind the wheel of a fuel-sipper without draining your savings.

Here’s a basic run-down:

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A Reverse Mortgage is a type of loan that allows you to borrow money using the equity in your home as security. Unlike a traditional mortgage, you don’t have to make regular repayments. The loan, along with interest, is repaid when you sell your home, move out, or pass away. This can be an attractive option for seniors looking to access funds without monthly repayments.

How Can it Help with Buying a Car?

  • Upfront Funds: A Reverse Mortgage can provide the upfront funds needed to purchase a fuel-efficient car. This way, you can start saving on fuel costs immediately without a waiting period.
  • No Monthly Payments: Since there are no monthly repayments, a reverse mortgage won’t add to your monthly bills. This can be comforting, especially when managing a fixed retirement income.
  • Stay in Your Home: You get to continue living in your home while enjoying the benefits of a more economical, eco-friendly vehicle.

Steps to Take

  1. Get Professional Advice: It’s wise to speak with a financial advisor to understand the ins and outs of Reverse Mortgages, and how it can impact your finances in the long run.
  2. Choose a Reputable Lender: Opt for a reputable lender who can guide you through the process with transparency and integrity.
  3. Compare and Shop: Once you’ve secured your funds, compare different fuel-efficient or electric vehicle models, and choose one that suits your needs and budget.

Taking the leap towards fuel efficiency doesn’t have to be a financial burden. With the right planning and advice, a reverse mortgage can pave the way to owning a fuel-efficient car, contributing to both your financial and environmental wellbeing. So, it might just be worth exploring this option as you gear up to make a smart, eco-friendly vehicle choice.

To learn more about Reverse Mortgages, you can contact Seniors First on 1300 745 745 or click here to check if you are eligible.


Please note that the information provided in this article, including the potential savings and vehicle efficiency ratings, are estimated figures based on the current fuel prices and available data at the time of writing. It’s crucial for readers, especially seniors, to verify the actual fuel efficiency and costs with car dealers or official resources before making any decisions. Conducting thorough due diligence, including understanding the maintenance requirements and any other associated costs with switching to a new vehicle, is highly recommended. Each individual’s circumstances and vehicle usage may lead to different outcomes; hence, it’s advisable to gather accurate and personalised information to make well-informed decisions regarding purchasing a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle.

  • Really? In what way is buying a new car of any type or description a great way to save money? That's insane. And in order to save less than $500pa in every example given?
    I've spent most of the past 20 years saving rather a lot more by buying an older, small vehicle in reasonable condition and keeping it well serviced. My wife's aged Toyota Echo is a good example. Fuel efficient, serviced routinely, clean, comfortable and simple.
    Carefully driven, a small petrol car uses very little more fuel than a medium sized hybrid like the classic Prius. The additional cost of fuel (small) and servicing/repairs (admittedly higher) is easily offset by the extraordinary rate of depreciation of a new or newish vehicle. You are also spared the 'benefits' of the latest gadgets and gizmos such as a 'radio' with a screen that does things you do not want such as a distorted view of the world behind you which makes reversing more difficult and something called Spotify? I tried one briefly and never managed to get it to simply capture the two radio stations I like as it was too busy doing two hundred other things. Windows that don't open unless you turn the car on again? Cars that won't start unless you press down on the brake pedal? And all those cup holders? Gawd no, I'm old and I prefer small and simple to just get from A to B.
    So my old Barina with the occasional good service will do fine. Previous cars. have cost me an average of $2000 per annum in total (not including petrol), including service, repairs and initial cost – and deducting wrecking or on-selling value. Yes they had occasional faults and deficiencies due to age (that internal light that never worked qnd was not worth fixing) but nothing I couldn't accept or get used to, compared the extreme cost of an upgrade.
    My very conservative approach to car ownership (never had a new one) has put a lot of money in my bank account over my lifetime. Mortgages paid out early for instance. In age I see no reason to change that now. A vehicle is a means of transport, not a fashion accessory, or personality statement and most of us buy one for all the wrong reasons. It's better to reappraise your actual relationship with 'the car' and real needs as you age and not rush out and dump a load of cash into a new go faster and impress the neighbours piece of ostentatious consumption.

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