Are your motoring costs going through the roof? Some of the following tips will save you many pounds, others just a few pennies, but they all add up. If owning and running a car is proving to be expensive, read on for some ideas on how to reduce your costs.
Ditch the diesel and buy a petrol car
Diesel is no longer a guaranteed way to save money. For starters, diesel cars cost more than petrol cars – on a supermini-sized car, the premium can be 10 percent or more. Diesel will cost you more at the pumps, and while they usually give better economy, efficient new petrol engines are catching up. Unless your annual mileage is very high, you should stick to petrol.
Check your tyre pressures
This simple check can save you plenty. Sure, it might cost you 50p or £1 to check your pressures at a petrol station, but the savings soon add up: tyres underinflated by 15psi – a difference you may not notice from a visual glance – can use six percent more fuel. That’s the difference between averaging 40mpg and 42mpg.
Find cheaper fuel
Use a website like Petrolprices.com to find the cheapest fuel in your area. The difference can be huge, adding up to many pennies per litre. Be warned: driving out of your way to pick up cheap fuel is a false economy, which becomes even more negligible the less economical your car. Never fill up at a motorway services unless you’re desperate for fuel – the costs can be astronomical.
Share your car
Do you need to drive? Could you car share instead? You don’t even need to know someone going in the same direction: services such as BlaBlaCar bring trusted carpooling to everyone. Simply enter where you are and where you want to go, and the service will search for available rides. You can even add your own car to the service.
Empty your boot
Don’t carry unnecessary weight around with you. A boot full of junk means you’re using extra fuel for nothing. Emptying it out will give small savings that will add up the more you drive, particularly if your motoring is mainly stop-start driving. While you’re there, remember to remove your roof rack and roof box when they’re not in use.
Take an advanced driving course
An advanced course will teach you how to drive economically – you’ll still make good progress but be doing it in a more efficient way. Hypermiling is the art of driving as economically as possible and once you take on the challenge, it can become addictive.
Haggle for cheaper insurance
Car insurance is one of the biggest motoring costs you face. NEVER accept your auto-renewal quote – give your insurer a call to see if you can haggle and reduce it. Better still, arm yourself with a car insurance comparison quote, to see how well your figure compares.
Add family members to your car insurance
We’re not recommending ‘fronting’, which is where a parent insures their child’s car in their name and adds them as a named driver, even though the parent never drives the car. This is illegal. But adding your partner as a named driver on the family car can balance the risk and reduce your premium by a few pounds.
Do some basic pre-MOT checks
There are really simple things you can check for prior to an MOT – whether your bulbs are all working, the condition of your tyres, the state of your windscreen wipers, even if the washer bottle contains any fluid. No matter how simple they are, the garage won’t rectify them before completing the MOT, and will fail you for the most minor faults. Why risk the inconvenience and potential expense?
Appeal against parking tickets
Think you’ve been unfairly caught out by a parking ticket? Try appealing it. Provide evidence, check the terms and conditions, present a compelling case, and sometimes the ticket can be overturned.
Find cheap or free parking spaces in advance
Don’t park in the closest car park you can find, or the one you know the best. Check there isn’t a cheaper one nearby first, using apps such as Parkopedia. Particularly in big cities, this can save you a fortune. If you’re travelling to an unfamiliar place, plan your parking in advance.
Source car parts yourself
Been quoted big money by a dealer to replace parts? Consider buying them yourself online and using a local garage to fit them. This can potentially save you several hundred pounds. If you’re running an older car, eBay can be helpful in sourcing rare parts and accessories.
Don’t overestimate your annual mileage when buying insurance
If you tell your insurance company you cover 10,000 miles a year but you actually drive far less, you could be paying for a higher-risk premium than is actually the case. Give the company a realistic future instead, but don’t underestimate, or you could be left without cover.
Keep off the kerb
It’s amazing how many people drive up and down kerbs. This damages the metal wires in the sidewall of the tyre (and often the alloy wheel itself), and will eventually lead to a puncture. Not only will avoiding driving up and down kerbs save you money, it will also keep you safe.
Park away from other vehicles
If your car is on finance, it will be assessed for condition before you hand it back. You’ll be charged if any rectification is needed. An easy way to reduce the risk of damage it to park away from other cars, so their car doors can’t damage it, and they can’t scrape it when driving in and out. Remember, even small car park panel dents are logged by the dealer on the condition report.
Buy a smartphone holder
If you are caught using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel, you face a £200 fine and six points on your licence. Use your smartphone for navigation or as an audio player? Then avoid the risk by installing it in a smartphone holder.
Don’t use your windscreen wipers on ice
Windscreen wipers can cost £20 or more to replace and they’ll wear out much more quickly if you use them on ice in winter. Scrape the screen or use de-icer instead to avoid damaging your wiper blades.
Don’t press the accelerator when you start the car
Every new car has engine electronics that regulate the car starting procedure. In the past, you needed to use a little gas to get the car running, but this is no longer necessary. So don’t waste the extra fuel and risk damage to your engine by doing it: the car will start cleanly without.
Drive gently when the car is cold
Cars are at their least efficient when they are cold. If you drive quickly straight from start-up, you are redoubling the wasted fuel, and also wearing out the engine more quickly in the process. Show some mechanical sympathy and you’ll immediately start saving money.
Stick to your PCP mileage limit
If your PCP car finance scheme covers you for 9,000 miles a year and you actually cover 10,000 miles a year, you face excess mileage surcharges at the end of it. These can be punitive, but even a minor-sounding 0.06p per mile surcharge adds up to a £180 bill if you go 3,000 miles over. Often, it would have been cheaper to factor this mileage into the PCP deal in the first place.
Don’t pay extra for premium fuel
Fuel sold in the UK is some of the best in the world. If you have a regular car with a normal-output engine, standard 95-octane unleaded fuel or everyday diesel will be fine. You won’t feel any benefit from using higher-octane premium fuels, but will notice the significant extra expense when you fill up.
Consider joining a car club
Don’t use your car much? You might save money by simply borrowing a car whenever you need one, rather than paying out for tax and insurance on a car you only use occasionally. Car clubs usually let you reserve cars via an online app, and you can often borrow them for anything from half an hour to a couple of days. Many clubs cost as little as 30p a minute or £5 an hour for all-inclusive use, or you can pay more for a bigger or more upmarket car.
Monitor your fuel economy
Don’t rely on the trip computer to monitor fuel economy – they’re not always accurate – but use an app on your phone to calculate your MPG every time you fill up. Once you know how well it performs, work out how you can improve it – and challenge yourself by making a game of it.
Wash your car yourself
Hand car wash centres charge just a few pounds and save you effort, so where’s the harm? Well, even a £5 fortnightly car wash adds up to £120 a year: doing it yourself will not only save you, it will also allow you to keep an eye on the condition of your car and get any damage rectified before it gets too bad.
Know how to buy economical tyres
Need new tyres? While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest available, that can prove to be a mistake in the long run. Not only are such tyres inferior in terms of braking and handling, but they may also hit your fuel economy. All tyres sold are fitted with an EU tyre label with a fuel efficiency rating. An ‘A’ rating means the tyre decreases the energy lost through the tyre (often referred to as ‘low rolling resistance’), while a G rating is the worst performing, resulting in increased CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
Use your smartphone to avoid extra parking charges
Paid for parking? Not returning to your car in time can prove expensive if you’re hit with a fine. But many parking companies offer a service which lets you use an app on your phone to pay for parking. Although there is a small convenience fee, it’ll notify you when your parking is nearly up – and you can extend it remotely so you’re not caught out.
If you’re young, research car insurance carefully
Unfortunately, being a young driver means you’re going to get stung for car insurance. But there are ways to make it cheaper. Try getting quotes for a wide variety of cars. Although you’d expect small cars in low insurance groups to be cheaper to insure, you might find a few exceptions. Use comparison sites to shop around and try approaching a few companies directly. Also consider a ‘black box’ telematics policy to help you build up a no-claims discount.
Buy road tax annually, not monthly
You can pay vehicle excise duty (VED) annually, monthly or every six months. Many opt for monthly, but it works out more expensive over the entire year. Pay the full amount at the start of the year to know that it’s paid for the rest of the year. If you’re strapped for cash, consider taking out a zero percent interest credit card and setting up a direct debit to pay it off over the year. It’ll work out cheaper than choosing the monthly option.
Comprehensive insurance might be the cheapest option
If you’re on a budget, many assume third-party insurance (the minimum legal requirement which only covers damage to other vehicles) will be the cheapest. But try getting quotes for fully comprehensive cover. The weird algorithm of insurance companies’ computers often means it’s cheaper than third-party only.
Buy a classic car over 40 years old to save on VED
You could save money by buying a classic car. Vehicles registered more than 40 years ago are exempt from paying tax, which could make for a significant saving. Buy sensibly and you could also save on insurance – and the car might even appreciate.