For many people, owning and running a car is one of the biggest day-to-day expenses that they have to deal with, and can easily run into thousands of pounds a year. Recurring costs such as fuel, insurance, maintenance and breakdown cover can really stack up, so we’ve come up with ten handy tips and tricks that can take the pressure off your wallet.
1. Keep your tyres inflated
Ensuring that you have the correct air pressure in your tyres can improve your vehicle's miles per gallon rate by over 3%. This may not sound like a lot, but with the average UK motorist spending over £1000 on petrol a year, it can really make a difference. According to a 2009 survey, drivers were wasting over £600 a year by driving with significantly under-inflated tyres.
2. Negotiate your breakdown cover
Many breakdown service firms will quote highly inflated prices for cover, but these prices are often flexible for new customers, or ones considering leaving for a competitor. The AA, RAC and Green Flag will all regularly lower their quotes when asked, so don’t be afraid to haggle.
3. Compare petrol costs online
Sites such as petrolprices.com are a fantastic resource for thrifty drivers who want to keep their fuel costs to a minimum. Simply enter your current postcode, and you’ll instantly be shown where the cheapest petrol, diesel or LPG is in your area.
4. Time your MOT right
If you get your MOT over a month in advance of your current certificate expiring, your new one will expire exactly one year from when it was taken. However, if you get your test done during the month before your current one ends, then the new one will expire in exactly a year from your current one ending, meaning your money goes further.
5. Invest in a parking space
For many drivers, it can be worthwhile investing in a private parking space. A one-off expenditure can save you hundreds, or even thousands of pounds, in the long-term, especially if you are regularly driving to work in an area with expensive parking, such as a city centre.
6. Avoid premium fuels for standard cars
Sometimes the way premium fuels are marketed can be deceptive, leading drivers to assume they will save significant amounts through improved fuel efficiency. Most standard vehicles will see little to no difference in using more expensive premium fuels, however. Unless you drive a high-performance sports car, or really notice the difference in fuel efficiency after switching to a premium fuel for a while, stick to standard.
7. Know when to claim on your insurance
Filing a claim following an accident can dramatically increase the cost of your insurance premiums. If the incident was minor, and your car hasn’t suffered any major damage, it might be cheaper in the long run to simply fork out for the repairs yourself. Remember, you still need to inform your insurer of the incident even if you aren’t making a claim.
8. Watch your speed
Once you begin to drive over 50mph, your miles per gallon rate will drop as your speed increases. You can make significant petrol savings by regulating your top speed, especially on long journeys. Accelerating as smoothly as possible, and avoiding pushing the accelerator down too far will also save on fuel costs.
9. Keep luggage to a minimum
You’d be surprised at how much difference the overall weight of your vehicle makes to its fuel efficiency. Clearing out any unnecessary items from your boot and glove compartments will save on petrol, as will removing a roof rack whenever it’s not in use.
10. Go easy on the air con
Air conditioning can affect a car’s fuel economy by a whopping 25% when it’s on, so try to avoid overusing it. If you are going to turn it on, open your windows for a short period beforehand to let hot air out of the vehicle.