Buying and Maintaining an Affordable Car

The best way to control your auto expenses is to buy a car you can afford.  This keeps your monthly car loan payments low (since you borrow less) and ensures that you don’t over-finance. But how do you buy an affordable car that fits within your budget?  Should you buy new or used?  If it’s used, how can you know it’s reliable?

Enter Scott Marshall. With 30 years of experience in the driver training industry, he shares his first-hand knowledge of how to make car ownership affordable. He also suggests that there is a correlation between safe driving and saving money.

8 Ways to Make Car Ownership Affordable

Scott shares the following tips for successfully keeping your car buying costs low:

  1. Buy used. According to Scott, a used car is a great way to achieve affordability. A used vehicle can be reliable if you’re strategic in your purchase and maintain your car well. 
  2. Buy a car that’s only 3 or 4 years old. Your car will still be very close to the most modern vehicle, but at only 60% of the cost. Don’t worry about newer features because the most important ones (anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and airbags) are all standard anyway.
  3. Buy from a credible dealer. Browse websites like Auto Trader, where you can find a car that is certified pre-owned, meaning it’s backed by the original manufacturer. That also means it’s  been through rigorous inspection.
  4. Save on insurance proactively. Your insurance payments depend partly on the type of car you buy. Minimize these monthly costs by asking your insurance company how much your payments will be based on vehicle models.
  5. Test-drive more than one car. Don’t give up if you’re unhappy with your first test-drive. If you’ve found a model that fits your budget, test multiple cars. They will each drive differently, even if they’re the same make.
  6. Save money on tires by alternating them. Scott suggests buying winter tires in the colder months to replace your all-seasons. Even at a temperature of plus 7 degrees Celsius, all-season tires will harden and wear more quickly. By investing in winter tires, you can extend the life of your all-seasons by 3 or 4 more years, saving you a lot of money in the future.
  7. Consider getting a CAA membership. CAA memberships cost less than $80 a year. While this still sounds like an added expense, it saves you hundreds of dollars on a towing service in the event of a roadside emergency. 
  8. Determine the kind of car you’ll need 5 years from now. Think carefully before you buy your vehicle. If you think you’ll need a bigger car in the future, don’t buy a smaller one now. You’ll save a lot more money because you’ll avoid rolling over auto loans and risking financial trouble. 

Read More: How Can Car Loans Lead to Insolvency? 

Your Driving Style Can Save You Money

Driving habits play an important role in ensuring that car ownership remains affordable.

Drive safe. Accidents are costly. The only way you can drive safely is by being attentive at all times. It’s for this reason that Scott says not to rely on any automated safety features your car may have. For example, even if your car has a blind spot checker, you should still be checking your blind spot yourself. Because should this feature fail, you’ll most likely end up in an accident. And as you’re probably aware, an accident leads to higher insurance premiums, which add to your monthly expenses.

Read More: Avoiding Debt Problems After a Personal Injury

Other cost saving driving habits:

  • Gentle acceleration to save on fuel; and
  • Easing off the gas early for a red light to save brake wear, which saves on maintenance and fuel costs

Owning a car doesn’t have to be a huge burden on your finances. As long as you buy what you can realistically afford and drive with caution, it’s possible to have this necessity without breaking the bank. 

For more details on what to look for when buying a used car and safe driving tips, tune in to the show or read the complete transcription below.

Additional Resources

The Safe Driver Blog
Scott Marshall Twitter

FULL TRANSCRIPT – Show 228 Buying and Maintaining an Affordable Car

buying and maintaining an affordable car

Doug Hoyes:    Cars are great; they take you places, like your job, so for a lot of people a car is essential. Cars are great but they can also be the cause of significant financial problems. According to market research company JD Power, 72% of new vehicle loans taken out in Canada are now for six years or longer, 44% are for seven years and eight year loans are now more than 10% of all new vehicle loans. The longer the loan the more likely you’ll have problems paying it back and that’s become an increasing problem for my clients.

                          We’re going to update it in 2019 but up until the end of 2017 or Joe Debtor Hoyes Michalos bankruptcy study shows that more than a third of people in Ontario, who go bankrupt or file a consumer proposal, have negative equity in their car. That means they owe more than the car is worth and they can’t afford to make the payments.

                          As car loans become longer that becomes an even greater problem. I can think of hundreds of people I’ve met over the years, often young men, who are paying up to half of their income for their car. They make $2,000 a month in their job and they’re paying $500 for a car loan and $300 a month for insurance and a couple of hundred dollars a month for gas and maintenance, so it’s not hard to see how owning a car can lead to financial trouble.

                          So what can you do to protect yourself? Should you only buy new cars or only buy really old used cars? What options should you get and which ones should you avoid? On today’s show we aren’t going to focus on car loans and debt instead we’re going to take a very practical look at how you can get the most bang for your car buck. So let’s get started and meet my guest today. Who are you and what do you do?

Scott Marshall:  Well, I’m Scott Marshall and I am the director of training for Young Drivers of Canada, 30 years at Young Drivers. I’m also a road safety blogger and for the first three seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver I was their head instructor and on-air judge.

Doug Hoyes:    Excellent, Canada’s Worst Drivers. And I remember the show, I mean you had people and basically critiqued all the bad things they did driving. What were some of the things that stand out when you look back on that these are the obvious mistakes people make or mistakes people shouldn’t be making?

Scott Marshall:  Well it goes from one end of the scale to the other, they were either over confident in lack of ability or under confident and lack in needing the ability of their passenger to help them drive. And over time we were hoping that they would change their behaviour and their thought process because really it’s your brain that makes all the choices, it shouldn’t be your passenger’s brain.

Doug Hoyes:    Passengers can get you into a lot of trouble.

Scott Marshall:  They do and especially passengers who think they know what they’re doing and in reality they don’t.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah, that’s even worse. Now you said that you’re a blogger, what’s the address of your website, where can people find that?

Scott Marshall:  My blog is thesafedriver.ca.

Doug Hoyes:    thesafedriver.ca and we’ll put links to that in the show notes so people can find it. Now I’ve read a bunch of your blogs and in one of them you put a phrase which I had never heard of, target fixation. What is that, what are you talking about there?

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, if you want to avoid something you avoid looking at it. So, when you’re driving and you want to avoid driving into the snow bank then if you look at the snow bank where you look is where you go. It’s like athlete’s do, the athlete has a target they look at their target and they throw their ball into the target. You look at a snow bank and you go into a snow bank. So you look into the open space where you want the car to go and then steer to get there.

Doug Hoyes:    So that’s the key. Okay, so there you go, we’re given free driving tips here, look where you want to not where you’re heading.

Scott Marshall:  That’s right, not what you’re trying to avoid.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah, which is naturally what you’d be focused on. Okay, so let’s get into the kind of money aspect of this here. So, let’s assume that I don’t have a lot of money, which is the case for most of my clients, and, you know, maybe I went through a bankruptcy or consumer proposal, I had to give up my expensive leased car but I need a car to get to work. And we’re recording this today in my office in Hamilton, up on the mountain. And this is a town where people drive cars. Yes, there’s a bus, it stops right outside here, but this is an area where cars are very prevalent.

                          So, you know, I need a car to get to work, my shifts starts at 5 in the morning, the buses don’t start running till 6, I’ve got to have a car, it’s got to be something reliable but I can’t go out and, you know, just be buying a brand new car all the time. So if you were advising someone in that situation what should they be looking for? Should they be looking for, you know, yeah, you’ve definitely got to buy a brand new car because it’s got the best warranty, in the long run you save money or should you definitely be buying a 10 year old car because they only cost a thousand bucks and you can’t go wrong? Where do you – what’s your advice in that situation?

Scott Marshall:  Let’s go right in the middle of that. Buying a three or four year old vehicle you have something very close to the most modern vehicle. In some cases there’s still part of a warranty, perhaps a drive train warranty, maybe not your basic warranty but you’re going to have as far as your engine and transmission goes.

                          But you have something that’s more reliable getting into an older vehicle, the parts are older, they’re more worn down, there’s more kilometres on that. And it’s like a pair of running shoes, they’re still comfortable but they’ll leak in the rain and so you’re going to have to get something that’s newer, not necessarily new and something that’s reliable. It’s going to cost you maybe, you know, 60% of what a new vehicle would cost.

Doug Hoyes:    So you’re talking a three or four year old car.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah.

Doug Hoyes:    Because a new vehicle the moment you drive it off the lot you’ve lost, I don’t know, 10%, 20%, whatever it is.

Scott Marshall:  Depreciation, that’s correct.

Doug Hoyes:    So it drops pretty quickly.

Scott Marshall:  It does.

Doug Hoyes:    So you would be targeting three to four years old because the price could be 60% of what the brand new vehicle is, it’s still got a bunch of the bells and whistles. It doesn’t have the hand crank like we used to use.

Scott Marshall:  Well it might still have that but the reality is that every six months or every three months there are new safety features on vehicles. We have roughly 25 sensors on our vehicles now so these sensors help us with our backup camera, lane departure, ESC, was a standard feature a few years ago in Canada along with ABS brakes.

Doug Hoyes:    And what is ESC?

Scott Marshall:  Electronic, stability control. It helps you – it helps slow down the car if you’re about to take a corner too fast without you touching the brakes so it’ll do it automatically. Not that you want to try it to find out what it does but you can check out my blog and it’ll tell you what it does. But the three and four year old vehicle will still have those, you don’t have to get brand new to get that.

Doug Hoyes:    Got you, so you’re getting the benefit. And like you say the drive train warranty, or something, well it may be a five year warranty or X number of kilometres or something like that so you’re getting the best of both worlds.

                          Okay so that makes sense then so that’s a value proposition there. Are there any, I mean you just mentioned a bunch of them, options? Are there any options that are either really good to have on a car that definitely make it safer or that you know what you’re paying a lot of money for something that it’s kind of like buying a house well, if you put in a pool you never get your money out of it they say, right? Is there anything in the car world that’s similar to that?

Scott Marshall:  Because there’s been a lot of features that are standard now, like as I mentioned anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, all the airbags have been around forever so it seems in many people’s lives, there’s not a lot that you have to worry about needing because they’re already standard feature. But if you have a back up camera, they’re helpful in a tight spot, they’re not necessarily something you have to have but they are helpful, things like that.

Doug Hoyes:    So that would be an example of something well, if you’ve got a choice, particularly paying a few extra bucks to get a vehicle with a backup camera, you’re in a better shape.

Scott Marshall:  Fog lights too, I mean you don’t think about that but if you’re in that type of area where it’s foggy and around here it is then yeah having fog lights on a vehicle is a perk, it allows you to see the road a little better. I’m all about the safety part but if you can save a few bucks and be safe let’s do both.

Doug Hoyes:    Even better. So let’s say I take your advice and I want to buy, I want to target a three or four year old car. Where should I buy it then, should I go to a used car lot, should I go to Kijiji or find it online? Where would you be sending me?

Scott Marshall:  The newer and the upscale lots can have better vehicles, lower mileage, which again means it could very well last you longer. There are some lots that will go to the wholesaler, get the vehicles and there could be something seriously wrong with it. So I would go to a reputable place, you can go to the online magazines such as Auto Trader. Dealers will advertise on Kijiji as well so you could check both those places and there’s a few other websites that you can search out.

                          But once you have an idea about what’s out there and what your budget is, go out and test drive a bunch, find out what works for you. Just test driving one vehicle say a Honda Civic, doesn’t mean that, and that one didn’t drive so well, doesn’t necessarily mean all Honda Civics are like that. Go and test drive a couple of others, maybe it was just that one that didn’t perform as well as you like.

Doug Hoyes:    Well and we all have different body tops so if you’re short maybe you want a car that rides higher up, if you’re really tall maybe that little tiny compact isn’t going to work for you. So, I agree, getting in them how else can you know?

Scott Marshall:  That’s right. And part of your decision making is also what can you afford but also about the fuel, check with the insurance company too, find out okay, if I bought this vehicle what would my insurance be?

Doug Hoyes:    That’s’ an excellent point. Especially if you’re younger the insurance can be costing you many hundreds of dollars a month if you buy this kind of car versus that kind of car and you can save a hundred bucks in insurance well that’s huge, that’s huge.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, it is, $100 a month can go a long way on a tight budget. And it’s something that what kind of safety rating does the vehicle have? SUVs tend to have a little higher safety rating so you may want to consider that. And a lot of them are now more economical to operate than they were a number of years ago.

Doug Hoyes:    So we’re recording this in January, 2019 the middle of the Canadian winter. Snow tires, what are your thoughts on snow tires? So I’m asking the question from two points of view, money and safety. So I think we all kind of agree that yeah, if you’re on slippery conditions, snowy conditions, whatever snow tires are better than non snow tires, and you can tell me if that’s true or not. What about from a money point of view, are snow tires a good investment or not, from a money point of view?

Scott Marshall:  From a money point of view they very well can be if you are keeping the vehicle for a few years so if you keep the vehicle for three or four years that’s three or four winters you’re going to have them with. And while your winter tires – they’re winter tires versus snow tires because it’s a season, not necessarily the elements, so the cold weather affects the all season tires. They become very hard like a rock when the temperature drops to seven Celsius, not even minus, but down to seven. So having the winter tires for five or six months during the cold weather you’re actually saving your all season tires so they’re going to last you an extra three or four years.

Doug Hoyes:    So if I’m going to have my car for the next four or five years then it’s kind of a no brainer.

Scott Marshall:  It is, it is and if can go to used tire places and get some winter rims for economical costs so then knowing someone and changing your tires yourself it doesn’t cost you anything to switch your tires over.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah and that’s exactly what I do. I don’t change them myself because I’m an accountant. You know what, I’m sure I could learn and when I was a kid we had, you know, the ramps and the jacks and the things to change your own oil and anything but I find going to the place and paying the guy money makes the most sense. But I do have the steel rims, I keep the snow tires on those so swapping them out is no big deal.

                          So, okay so if I’m keeping my car for an extended a period of time – obviously if you switch cars every year and switch models well then the old snow tires aren’t going to fit on the new one potentially but if you’re sticking with the same model and I’ve had the same model of car for I don’t know 10 years so snow tires can keep going. And from a safety point of view, and again I just realized I said the wrong thing again, that they’re not snow tires, they’re winter tires because it’s a season, there’s no doubt they are safer in the winter than all seasons.

Scott Marshall:  They are. So let me bring it back to the economical side of it. You’ve got some slippery conditions, you’ve got some snow, you’ve got some deep snow and you’re stuck and you’re going to get back and forth and you’re pressing the gas. You’re wasting this fuel to get out of some snow drifts where winter tires you can just drive out. I was parked in the parking lot, dug out my car with a shovel I had in my back of my car, drove out no problem. Winter tires on. The person up the laneway, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, he used a lot more gas than I did. So now each time it snows do I want to get stuck and use up a lot of fuel or do I just drive out?

Doug Hoyes:    And I guess that’s not easy on the engine either when you’re spinning your tires and all the rest of it.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, it’s not a good technique to get out anyway.

Doug Hoyes:    It’s probably not great.

Scott Marshall:  No, it’s not.

Doug Hoyes:    Okay, so winter tires probably a good investment. Another investment I’ve always made is I’m a member of the Auto Club, CAA and I’ve been a member of that since I was like 16 years old and I think my dad got me into it. Because his thought was well – because back in those days I was driving 10, 15 year old cars, so we knew they were going to break down, we knew there was going to be a problem, so you need someone to come and get you well, they’ve got a tow truck I don’t. From a financial point of view, is that a good strategy or is that a waste of money?

Scott Marshall:  No, it is a good strategy for the cost, which I think is like 80 bucks. And then if you have a family member, you can be an associate member which is like 45, 50 dollars. So think about what a tow is going to cost you, one tow stranded at night where you car wouldn’t start, one dead battery, one stuck in a snow bank, just one is going to cost you more than your membership. So, it’s a good thing to have. There are some vehicles that are still out there that the automaker allows they have the roadside assistance that comes with the vehicle. Depends again on how old the vehicle is.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah, so if you’re buying a brand new vehicle that may already be included, not a big deal.

Scott Marshall:  But if it’s a used vehicle, four years old, what’s still left on it if there is anything at all? And having an Auto Club membership or a very handy parent, either one comes in handy.

Doug Hoyes:    Well and that’s exactly what I’ve done and when my son started driving yeah, you can put him on as a supplemental. It doesn’t cost – it’s certainly not double the cost to put a second person on. So it kind of makes sense.

                          Now at the start of the show I said it’s becoming more and more common to have longer and longer loans, six years, seven years, eight year loans. That sounds crazy to me because in my experience your typical car doesn’t last for eight years. Am I wrong, are cars lasting longer, is an eight year loan actually not a bad thing or is it much more likely that you’re going to be turning the car over more frequently than that?

Scott Marshall:  Depending on what you use your vehicle for, if it’s your typical to and from work and the additional pleasure use, you’re probably putting 20 to 25,000 K on a year. Your car’s going to last you awhile, it really will. They’re built better now. So a seven year, eight year loan a lot of it is so that people can afford it.

Doug Hoyes:    The entire reason, yeah.

Scott Marshall:  They’re so expensive now, which comes back to a three, four year old care, it could be 60% of the cost of a brand new one so it’s more affordable. But yeah, cars do last and one of the plusses as a driving instructor if we had a chance to own our vehicle for a year after it was paid then that’s extra because we put a lot of kilometres on our vehicles. But we want something reliable. We don’t want to have to cancel lessons because our car’s in the shop.

Doug Hoyes:    So the cars you’ve got at Young Driver’s of Canada, what kind of mileage, what kind of age is it then when you then get rid of them and get another one?

Scott Marshall:  Well, we probably generally for the most part won’t keep anything past four or five years. We’re putting 50 thousand K a year so more than twice as much than the average driver. And it’s hard kilometres because it’s someone who’s just learning. So the brakes are a little, you know, get a little worn and the tires don’t last as long as years wise, they’ll probably last us two years.

Doug Hoyes:    But you’re just replacing the brakes, replacing the tires and keeping the car.

Scott Marshall:  That’s right.

Doug Hoyes:    So the car gets to 250,000 and okay well then that’s probably when we’re turning it over. But by that point it might have a couple of sets of tires, three sets of brakes, whatever.

Scott Marshall:  Exactly, that’s right, that’s right. But to the average driver who’s commuting to work and taking their family out and vacationing, you can see your car lasting a good 10 years but part of that is preventative maintenance.

Doug Hoyes:    Right. Are you spending the money then to do all those things that we just talked about?

Scott Marshall:  That’s right.

Doug Hoyes:    And the problem I see people getting into is I don’t want to keep the car for 10 years or there’s all these new bells and whistles or, you know, I just had another kid so now I need a van, I can’t be driving a sports car anymore.

                          So the reason that I said at the start that a third of our clients end up having a short fall on their vehicle when they come in to see us is because they’ve got a five year loan, they keep the car for three years and then they want to switch to a different vehicle. There’s a short fall and the car place says no problem we’ll take that shortfall and roll it into your new vehicle. So now I bought a $30,000 vehicle but I’ve got a $35,000 on it because I had to roll in from what was there before and I keep that vehicle for three years and now I’ve got to roll it into something else.

                          Well now I’ve got a six or seven thousand dollar shortfall that I’m rolling. At some point you get to the point where you’ve got a $20,000 loan on a $6,000 vehicle. And when people come in to see me I say well, here’s your choice, you can keep the vehicle and go bankrupt but you’re going to have to keep paying the $20,000 loan for a $6,000 vehicle. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

                          Maybe you’d be better off to say okay, here you go car lender, here’s the keys, take the vehicle. And then the short – you don’t have the vehicle anymore but that shortfall can then get included in your bankruptcy or proposal. That’s the big problem with the long loans if you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that length of time. So I guess that’s kind of the key, how long are you really going to keep it for?

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, exactly. And I know that my older son wanted to buy a vehicle and he decided he wanted to pay cash.

Doug Hoyes:    I like him already.

Scott Marshall:  Yes. He was working extra hours, worked a long time to get the money and I went out and helped him. And the thing is that where he was working at the time he could not afford a monthly payment. He had to have zero money per month out, other than the insurance and the maintenance. And so now he wants to get a truck, which –

Doug Hoyes:    Costs more.

Scott Marshall:  Costs more, more on fuel, more maintenance, possibly more on insurance, that has not been determined and then you have your monthly payment. So part of it is it’s wants versus needs. Right now he has a reliable vehicle, it gets him to work, gets him home, gets him to come and visit and so forth.

                          And that I think is important, that you have to kind of decide well, I’d like to have that, there’s lots of things I’d like but it’s what do I need. And he got himself a vehicle that was reliable, a little older than the four year but it fit within his budget and it’s all good. And an added thing that people can also do if it’s doesn’t have as much of the warranty is you can buy an extended warranty.

Doug Hoyes:    And is that a good deal or you end up paying a lot more than you’re actually getting?

Scott Marshall:  It’s insurance. You know, I have home insurance in case there’s a fire. I haven’t had a fire but it’s nice to know that I have it.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah because a fire is catastrophic, you end up having to spend half a million dollars while spending the money each month is a much better deal.

Scott Marshall:  Exactly or whether or not you have a break in and these types of things and your car insurance type of thing. It’s insurance, it’s insurance for the maintenance of your vehicle. And you just have to put that into your budget. So if it’s going to cost you, you know, $80 for this extended warranty then it’s $80 a month that you put into your budget.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah and I guess you’ve got to do the math and figure out okay so over the next two or three years what is likely to go wrong with my car and if it’s brakes, tires you can estimate what those costs are pretty accurately and it’s probably not, an extended warranty doesn’t cover that anyways. But if the engine goes okay, that costs more money and is it worth it then to have – so I guess you’ve got to fully understand what the warranty actually covers and what it doesn’t cover and then decide for yourself. If you’re driving a $2,000 car I guess when it breaks I throw it out and I get another one kind of a thing.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, exactly. So, it’s a lot of long term planning, don’t think of today, think of next week.

Doug Hoyes:    Now you mentioned long term planning, so you’ve been in your world for 30 years, it makes you about as old as I am I guess, so we’re both 25 years old. So do you notice, this has nothing to do with money I’m just curious here, do you notice a difference between drivers today and drivers from 20, 30 years ago and maybe even specifically the clients you’ve got at Young Driver’s of Canada, the people you’re training, are they different or is it really just the same, a driver’s a driver?

Scott Marshall:  Generally speaking there’s a bit of a difference. A lot of safety features on a lot our vehicles, a lot of advancements. Drivers are relying on those advancements to help them drive, which is a mistake. For example you have a blind spot indicator on your car, it flashes if there’s someone in your blind spot so you don’t bother checking. And if it doesn’t flash you just move over. There’s snow on the sensor, there’s ice, there’s mud, there’s grime.

Doug Hoyes:    There’s a car there.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah and crashes occur. The drivers are still out there. In Ontario there’s roughly 100,000 new drivers every year. And so our roads are getting clogged more and more now than when I started 30 years ago at Young Drivers. So we have to share, we have to – there’s still the aggressive drives, they were always there. The old cars from the 80s when I started at Young Drivers had the steel bumpers that you hit the steel bumper and nothing happens.

Doug Hoyes:    Nothing happened.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, nothing happens. That’s not the case now, everything is so cosmetic. You look at a vehicle after a collision you think okay, maybe $1,500, $2,000 damage, no it’s $9,000 because there’s so much underneath the vehicle that, you know, your deductible, which people have to remember that you have to live with that deductible.

Doug Hoyes:    Yeah, you don’t just get a hammer and bang out the dent from the fender, you need a whole new front end.

Scott Marshall:  That’s right. And there’s so much electronics behind the shell of the vehicle. You’re driving a computer now and people forget that.

Doug Hoyes:    Well and that’s interesting what you say about the safety features, it makes me think of hockey. You know, back when, you know, when you and I were born, nobody wore a helmet when they played hockey and yet you never heard about hockey players suffering from concussions. I mean obviously they did but when I was running you into the boards I was a little more careful because I knew I would kill you. So okay, Gordie Howe had pretty good elbows, it’s not like he was the cleanest player in the world but he wasn’t running at people’s heads well now they’re wearing all this body armour, I don’t have to be as safe.

                          And I guess it’s the same with the cars, I got all these safety features and let’s face it cars are going to be driving themselves if they aren’t already, right? So why do I even have to pay attention?

Scott Marshall:  Well, yeah and I mean yeah, now part of the electronics are the automatic emergency braking. Our vehicles are semi autonomous now that allow us to do things. There’s even the parking. I did a couple of videos, one with The Toronto Maple Leafs and one with The Raptors where they have park assist and we didn’t tell the other participant. So we’re doing a [Leo Comber], I was doing a parallel park without touching the steering wheel. And Matt Martin’s in the backseat not knowing that this vehicle could do that.

                          So the car can park on itself so why can’t it do other things by itself? And it will eventually but we just have to remember that we’re the one in control, if something goes wrong you have to be ready to touch that brake. You have to be ready to steer, you still have to look where you want the car to go, you’re still the captain of the ship.

Doug Hoyes:    And that’s pretty crucial. So to end it then it sounds like there’s a pretty big correlation between driving safely and saving money.

Scott Marshall:  Yeah, there is. If you drive safely, gentle acceleration you’re saving fuel, easing off the gas early for a red light, you’re saving fuel, you’re saving brake ware. That saves you money on your maintenance, that saves you money on your fuel. And if you’re looking out for the other guy, you’re not colliding, you’re saving your deductible, you’re saving your vehicle, you’re saving your pocketbook.

Doug Hoyes:    Excellent. Well, so being a safe driver can save you a ton of money potentially, which I never really kind of put it in those terms before but that kind of makes obvious sense. So final question, what is your overall advice then, and maybe you’ve already hit it all, but if you’re talking to, you know, your son when he first started driving or any of the other new 100,000 drivers or more likely someone like me who’s been driving for I think it was I got my licence 38 years ago, two days ago. Because it was – if my math was correct there, I’d have to do the math, I might be a year or two off. But we’re recording this on January and I know for a fact I got my licence January 2nd.

Scott Marshall:  I got mine January 7th.

Doug Hoyes:    Well, so there you go so we’re coming up on your anniversary too then. And I know that because I was, you know, 16 and a half and my dad said okay, you’re the oldest kid, I’ve got to get you driving so you can schlep all your siblings around. And I didn’t have an appointment or anything but it was a snowstorm that day so everybody else had cancelled their appointment so we were able to just walk right in and they couldn’t fail me because nobody could see the lines. There was no snow everywhere so it worked out fantastically.

                          So, what advice then would you be giving someone who is either a new driver or someone like me who’s been driving for so long that I assume I know everything I’m doing and probably have a whole lot of bad habits that are not safe? What are some of the obvious things that maybe I should be thinking about to keep myself out of trouble?

Scott Marshall:  Despite what you do for a living, driving is your job. If you have an appointment, you have a meeting, you have something on your mind relating to work, relating to home, it has to go on the passenger seat and you focus on your driving. We have distracted driving laws that just took place. And distracted driving laws in Canada and Ontario specifically are to do with electronics but it’s not just electronics. It’s your mind, if your mind is elsewhere, your mind is not on driving.

Doug Hoyes:    That’s the biggest distraction of all.

Scott Marshall:  We are our own worst enemy because we have so much. We live in a busy society, our lives are busy, my life is busy. Even though my kids are getting older it’s still a busy life, but when I get behind the wheel that’s my job not because I’m an instructor but because what if the person that sits next to me is daydreaming and they start drifting out of their lane, I need to see that. I need to honk the horn to warn them or slow down and make sure they don’t hit me.

                          I need to know that the driver behind is too close, maybe change lanes to get rid of them, maybe they’re anxious, maybe they’re in a hurry. Driving is my job and I need to remember that. And that’ll save me, my passengers, my bank account, my car, you name it.

Doug Hoyes:    Excellent. Well, I think that’s fantastic advice and a great way to end it. Driving is your job and it’s not just you you’ve got to worry about, in fact it’s everybody else you’ve got to worry about as well.

Scott Marshall:  Absolutely.

Doug Hoyes:    Scott, thanks very much for being here today.

Scott Marshall:  Always a pleasure.

Doug Hoyes:    Thank you. That is Scott Marshall and I’m going to put links in the show notes to everything we’ve talked about. We’ll have full show notes including a full transcript and links to Scott’s website over at hoyes.com. And you can watch the video of all of our shows here on the Debt Free in 30 channel on YouTube and you can get the audio podcast on all podcasting apps so please subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

                          Thanks for listening, until next week I’m Doug Hoyes. That was Debt Free in 30.

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