The average UK motorist spends £162 per month, almost £2,000 each year, just running their car. That’s without factoring in the cost of the vehicle. Any way to bring that figure down can only be a good thing. So here are our 7 top tips to cut your motoring costs.
1. Fork out less for fuel
Trips to the petrol station often result in another £40-£60 pound hit to your bank account or credit card. But there are ways to cut your costs.
If you’ve been spending more on premium petrol to secure the promised performance and economy benefits, it’s time to have a rethink.
The RAC says: “... unless you’re driving a performance vehicle, you’re unlikely to see any improvements by using fuel with a higher octane (petrol) or cetane (diesel) rating. You will, however, pay up to 10p a litre more for the privilege.”
To calculate how much you could save by making the switch, use this handy fuel calculator.
2. Make savings on your MOT
The triumph of remembering when your car’s MOT is due is quickly followed by the realisation that you need to fork out for the test plus any repairs.
Industry data reveals that around 1.5 million vehicles fail their MOT due to simple issues, like faulty bulbs, worn windscreen wipers and empty washer fluid bottles, that can be easily fixed. You could get these problems resolved in the garage but you might pay more in comparison to sorting them out yourself.
3. Reduce your vehicle tax
With so many different ways to pay for your car road tax are you sure you’re doing it most cost effectively? A petrol or diesel car, registered on or after 1st April 2017 in its second year on the road and beyond, will cost:
• £140 for the year if you pay in one lump sum
• £147 in total should you pay each month by direct debit
• £154 when paying half this sum every six months - this reduces to £147 if you make the two payments by direct debit
Older cars, registered between 1st March 2001 and 31st March 2017 are subject to tax bands based on their CO2 emissions. Although the rates are different, cost savings can still be made by paying your tax in one lump sum or via two six monthly direct debits. Here’s an example of the different fees for a car in tax band D:
• £120 for the year if you pay in one lump sum
• £126 in total when paying each month by direct debit
• £132 should you pay half this figure every six months - this reduces to £126 if you make the two payments by direct debit
Over the lifetime of your car, these savings will add up. And, if you’re buying a new car, you can save even more by going green with a low emission vehicle.
4. Do your research for reduced car insurance
The average UK driver spends £39.58 per month on comprehensive car insurance - that’s a hefty £475 per year.
When your next renewal quote comes through, it could be worth shopping around. Use a price comparison site to see how much you could save on like-for-like insurance and be prepared to swap to get a better deal. Or ask your existing insurer to match the lower price.
Haven’t got comprehensive insurance because you thought it would be more expensive? Compare prices when you next renew as it can often be cheaper than third party, fire and theft.
5. Minimise maintenance costs
Some degree of car maintenance will always be necessary. But there are lots of tactics that will reduce the frequency of your garage trips:
• Drive gently when your car is cold - it’s like a warm up for your engine and helps prevent mechanical stress
• Scrape icy windows with a scraper, not your windscreen wipers to prolong their life
• Avoid driving over curbs to prevent wear and tear on your tyres
• Potholes cause around one in ten mechanical failures, so try to avoid them. If you do find potholes have damaged your car, consider claiming for any damage caused.
6. Prune parking charges
Parking can be expensive, particularly if you need to buy a permit at home and work. There are a number of things you can do to soften the blow:
• Check to see if your employer offers discounted parking near work
• If you park and ride, take a look at your council website to see if there are reduced season tickets for parking
• Use apps, like Parkopedia, to find the most cost-effective parking spots when you’re out and about
• Challenge any parking tickets - 56% of motorists who appealed fines with independent bodies were successful in their claim. No grounds for appeal? Most fines reduce by half if you pay within 14 days so make payment quickly to save cash.
7. Decrease your car’s depreciation
Every year that passes knocks a bit more off the value of your car. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect the residual value, like:
• Choosing the right make and model when you buy - this is key to retaining value when you come to sell as those with good fuel economy tend to be worth more
• Park away from other cars to avoid dings and scuffed alloys - left unrepaired, they can knock money off your car’s value
• Look after your interior to stop it becoming tatty and when you’re ready to sell, invest in a full valet to present your vehicle at its best
Despite the expense, owning a car provides freedom and convenience that most of us can’t do without. Follow these tips and you’ll keep more money in your pocket making car ownership even more worthwhile.