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How to save money running a car: 10 tips for drivers

By Stephen Turvil | November 28, 2022

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Top 10 tips: how to save money running a car. The simple steps that save you money on fuel, road tax, car insurance, repairs and maintenance, parking, and more.

How to save money running a car: 10 tips for drivers

Running a car is expensive but you can reduce the cost for very little effort. This is particularly important now whilst fuel prices are high, taxes are rising, and inflation is through the roof. Let us summarise the steps that put money back in your pocket.

Car money saving tips: get the right fuel

Shopping around for cheaper fuel could save you a small fortune. If you can find a saving of 7p per litre, that equates to £4.20 if your car has a 60 litre tank. You then save £218.40 per year if you fill your tank once a week. Typically, fuel is most expensive at motorway service stations so go elsewhere if possible.

Consider too which fuel you purchase: ‘standard’ or the more expensive ‘premium’. The retailer might claim the premium helps your car work more efficiently – and it might. However, opinions differ and some cars are more likely to benefit than others. On this basis, check online or in your owner’s manual if there is any benefit for paying for premium fuel - there is no point in paying unnecessarily.

Car money saving tips: buy suitable tyres

When you buy a tyre, consider its rolling resistance rating which is stated on the label. The scale is A to E. The former is the most efficient rating and the latter is least. An A tyre has less rolling resistance than the alternatives which minimises fuel consumption. This is because the car’s engine does not work particularly hard to spin the tyre. There is very little rolling resistance to overcome. Also, keeping the tyre at the pressure recommended by the car’s manufacturer minimises rolling resistance.

Car money saving tips: optimise your driving style

You can save a considerable amount of fuel by optimising your driving style. The key is to accelerate gently, keep the engine revolutions low, and drive at modest speeds. Additionally, maintain a consistent pace where practical rather than speed up and slow down - you can do this more easily by leaving a bigger gap to the car in front of you.

Car money saving tips: get ready for the MOT

Your car could fail its test for minor issues you can spot beforehand. For example worn wiper blades, blown bulbs, and no washer fluid. A mechanic could then charge a hefty sum to correct such issues. Instead, you can fix them yourself before the test. These jobs typically need very little skill and only basic hand tools. If you need help, consult the owner’s manual or look online.

Car money saving tips: pick a cost effective garage

Shop around if your car has to be fixed or serviced. Prices vary immensely. A main dealer is typically more expensive than an independent. Be careful if your vehicle has a manufacturer warranty, though. If the car is not maintained in the manner recommended by the manufacturer, the warranty might be invalidated. You can check prices for aftercar support via our recommended partners, MotorEasy

Car money saving tips: pay road tax annually

Road tax can be paid once per year via a lump sum, every six months, or monthly. if you can afford to do so, it is cheapest to pay annually. Consider a car from 2016 in road tax band M, for example. This vehicle can be taxed for a year via a single lump sum, for £630. However, if you choose monthly payments the total rises to £661.50, over 12 months.

Car money saving tips: get a smartphone parking app

Parking charges add up quickly but you can reduce the cost. Phone apps such as Parkopedia confirm where you can park, any charges, and how long you can stay. Simply choose the cost effective spaces. 

Car money saving tips: optimise car insurance

Cut the cost of car insurance by optimising its terms. For starters, ensure that you realistically estimate your annual mileage. Overstating it can increase the cost unnecessarily. You could also reduce the cost by adding a named driver, parking in a secure spot overnight, and buying additional security features for the car. And naturally, drive within the law to avoid getting penalty points on your licence. They make insurance more expensive. 

Also, reduce the cost by removing optional extras that are not required. The typical choices include a hire car if yours is damaged, legal protection, and no claims protection. You can raise the excess, too. The excess is the total you pay toward each claim.

It is also important to shop around for car insurance. The difference between the cheapest and most expensive policy is typically hundreds of pounds. It is thousands of pounds in some cases. Price comparison sites, such as Go.Compare, make it easy to compare insurance policies. Just enter your information once and get numerous quotes. 

Car money saving tips: buy breakdown cover

Breakdown cover might feel like an unnecessary luxury if you want to save money. It is not, though. It is an investment that protects you financially if something goes wrong on the road. Your vehicle might grind to a halt on the motorway, for instance. Without breakdown cover, you could pay a fortune to be towed to safety. Ensure your breakdown cover is comprehensive, too. Some impose restrictions such as refusing to help once the car is 16 years old. Check for quotes via MotorEasy here.

Car money saving tips: get the right car

Buying the right car can save you a vast sum. Consider fuel economy, the cost of road tax, the price of servicing, and the hourly rate of a suitable garage should the car have to be repaired. Such things vary immensely. Consider reliability, too. Get a vehicle that is known to be reliable rather than problematic.

Additionally, consider carefully how to pay if you buy the car outright. If you pay from savings, the expenditure is limited to the price of the car. In contrast, a loan can add interest, an arrangement fee, and other expenses that increase the total outlay.

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