The cost of running a car can make it one of our biggest monthly expenses. We investigate 10 ways you can save money on your vehicle, from emptying your boot to checking your tyre pressure.
Cars are a necessity for some, but they’re expensive. Whether it’s the annual service and MOT, costly petrol and insurance premiums or being hit with an expensive repair bill, the price of motoring soon adds up.
It doesn’t need to be that way, as there are a few little tricks focused on smart driving and regularly monitoring your vehicle which can avoid these charges. Here are 10 ways to cut down on the cost of your car.
Check your tyres regularly
Tyre pressure has a big impact on your car. If they have too much or too little air they can become damaged quicker than normal. This increases the regularity with which you have to replace them. It’s also something you can fail an MOT on.
On top of that, it also impacts your fuel economy, meaning you need to fill up more often which can be costly. You can check the required tyre pressure for your car here.
You can also save on your fuel economy by going for high-quality tyres instead of the cheapest option, as they shouldn’t need replacing as often. Check the EU tyre label to find out the efficiency rating before you buy.
Ever noticed how much harder it is to drive when you have extra passengers? The more weight you are carrying the harder the car has to work, and the more fuel you get through.
This goes for anything you carry in your car, not just people. Only keep essentials in your boot and remove your roof rack when it’s not in use.
Get cheap fuel
The price of fuel fluctuates between retailers, to the point that you can pay anywhere up to 25p more per litre at motorway service stations. If your tank takes 40 litres that’s an extra £10 every time you fill up, which will soon add up.
It’s a bad idea to go driving around specifically looking for cheap petrol, wasting your time and energy - as well as affecting the environment. But pay attention to the prices charged by different garages when you’re out and about. Is your local supermarket station the cheapest, or is there a bargain on your trip to work you can swing by and take advantage of?
Make a mental note of what stations are cheap and then make sure you fill up from there when you’re nearing an empty tank. By avoiding waiting until you’re virtually driving on fumes you’ll be able to keep topped up using the cheapest options.
Oh and also avoid the premium fuels. Unless you’re driving a performance car they have little impact on your car (aside from the occasional benefit if you drive a diesel).
Take an advanced drivers course
An advanced drivers course will teach you how to be a safer and more responsible driver. Whilst that should make you less likely to cause an accident, keeping car repair costs and insurance premiums down, it will also give you more tangible benefits.
These courses also teach you how to drive more efficiently, getting the most from your car. On top of this, you may receive cheaper insurance premiums - these may be more pronounced the less time you’ve been driving. It’s worth checking how much both these benefits could save you and see if it’s worth the expense of a course, which range in price from £49 to £399.
Black box car insurance policy
You could stand to save a wad of cash by getting a black box insurance policy - especially if you are a new driver and you drive cautiously.
With one of these policies, you will get a small black box installed in your car, designed to monitor the way you drive. If you are a careful driver, you will be rewarded with lower insurance premiums, as your insurance company will see you as low risk. The less likely you are to put in a claim the better in their eyes.
It’s worth noting that these black boxes will also monitor your mileage, so it’s important you don’t exceed the annual mileage you originally quoted when you set up your insurance. This will avoid unexpected charges and, at worst, your insurance policy being invalid.
The more carefully you drive, the more you could save in repairs. For example, mounting kerbs can cause damage to your wheels.
You also need to be extra gentle when the weather is cold, as this is when your car is least efficient. Modern cars don’t need warming up before you set off, but be mindful that you don’t drive too quickly right from the get-go, as it could waste petrol and increase wear and tear on the engine.
Also, avoid the temptation to speed or jump red lights. As well as being illegal and dangerous, the penalties for these actions are costly, with fines and speed awareness courses expensive. They will also potentially cause your insurance premiums to rise.
Add family members to your car insurance
Adding another person (like your partner or other family members) to your insurance policy as an additional driver can reduce your premium if they have a good track record. They will need several years of driving experience and a good streak of no claims to make an impact.
Adding someone who is young or inexperienced could have the opposite effect. The insurance company will see them as more of a risk, with a higher chance of making a claim.
Remember, ‘fronting’ is illegal and we don’t recommend it. It’s the practice of purposefully insuring a vehicle in the name of a more experienced driver to reduce your insurance premiums.
Pay for your car insurance annually
How much you pay for your car insurance also depends on factors such as where you live and the level of cover you’re after. But you don’t have to accept your auto-renewal quote and you are within your rights to shop around or haggle for a cheaper deal.
Once you’ve settled on a provider, you need to decide how you want to pay for your insurance for the upcoming year. Paying on a monthly basis means you are taking out a form of credit, so you’ll be charged interest on top of the full balance. The higher your car insurance premium, the more interest you may be charged.
This differs from an annual policy where you pay for the year upfront without any interest being added. It may seem an extra-large expense to pay for it in one go, but it could reduce the overall cost of your insurance. Have you got savings which could fund it? Chances are the APR you pay on the insurance - which can be as high as 40% - could exceed what you earn in interest on savings.
It’s also worth paying for it in one go if you have a bad credit rating. This is because the insurance company is likely to run a hard credit check if you want to pay monthly. They want to see how risky it would be for them to finance your insurance over the course of the year. If they carry out a credit check and find you have a bad credit score, they can put your premium up. This is usually based on statistical evidence that people with poor credit histories are more likely to make a claim.
Buy tax annually not monthly
You can also save money on your car tax by paying annually instead of monthly. If you add up all of your monthly payments over the course of the year, it will come to more than you’d pay annually.
But how you decide to go about it depends on what you can afford. Many people like the flexibility of being able to spread the payment over 12 months, instead of forking out for a big bill once a year.
Use a more cost-effective way to travel
And finally, do you always need to use your car to travel? Whether it’s a walk to the shop or car-pooling for work, cutting down on unnecessary car use can save you lots of money on petrol every year.
It will also reduce the impact of wear and tear on your car, which makes it more likely to pass an MOT and avoid expensive repairs. A lower mileage will also mean it’s worth more, should you choose to sell it in the future.
Thinking of getting a new car? Read ‘what you need to know when buying a car’.
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