How to Drive Down the Cost of Car Ownership
It's been a rocky road for UK car owners over the past couple of years, with inflation hitting maintenance and insurance costs (along with the cost of the injury claims business and uninsured drivers to the insurance industry), coupled with the ever-climbing price of fuel - and with a VAT increase thrown into the mix – owning a car is now almost as expensive as owning a house for many people.
One thing's for sure, nothings going to get easier anytime soon, so it's important that you do all you can to lower the cost of owning your car to help you weather the storm.
So what can you do to drive down the cost of car ownership?
Our Top Moneysaving Tips
Share a lift: It might seem obvious but, have you considered sharing a lift with a work colleague? If you're not sure who lives in your local area, why not email your work colleagues or stick a note on a message board in your canteen.
It's always worth asking around as you could save 50% of your weekly fuel bill by adopting this approach. If you fancy saving even more money – and you live close to your place of work – why not bike in?
Swap Insurers: We Brits have a habit of voting with our feet and also sticking determinedly with something we're happy with. However, this isn't always the best approach when it comes to renewing our car insurance.
Every year we waste billions of pounds in overpayments by staying with the same insurer when we could have switched to a cheaper option. It's always best to start looking around a month before your insurance expires to see if you can get a cheaper deal elsewhere. Using a comparison site can make the whole process a lot quicker and give you a number of results to allow you to compare features vs. price.
Find the cheapest fuel: It's a good idea to shop around for your fuel, you'll usually find that prices in your local area vary by as much as 3-5p per litre. With a little detective work (or by using a website such as petrolprices.com) you can find the best place to fill up but be careful not to drive round looking for a cheaper garage as you might negate any potential saving.
Drive with fuel economy in mind: To improve your fuel economy, it's a good idea to read the road ahead to allow you to avoid accelerating harshly and having to brake suddenly.
Care should be taken to stay in as higher gear as possible to reduce the engines workload and you should aim to stick to the speed-limit (travelling at 80mph uses 10-20% more fuel than at 70mph).
Keep those tyres inflated: Having under-inflated tyres will mean that you use more fuel and will result in you having to purchase new tyres more quickly due to increased wear.
You should check pressures frequently and inflate to levels recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle (be sure to adjust tyre pressures according to load and the time of year).
Downsize your car: If you have an estate or bigger car which you are finding expensive to run, ask yourself the question; could I cope with something smaller? If you don't need the extra space for any practical reason or you are a 2 car family, why not downsize to something smaller with a more frugal engine.
Reduce your risk: One sure-fire way to decrease the cost of you car insurance is to reduce your risk to the insurer as much as possible. This can be achieved in the following ways: reduce your annual mileage (be sure to keep it accurate), improve the security of your vehicle (add an alarm, store in a garage overnight, etc), take a pass plus course, try playing with your job description (whilst keeping it in the realms of reality) and finally, is there another member of your family with a longer (and clean) driving history that you can add as a secondary driver?
Service your car regularly: It may cost a little extra in the short-term, but giving your vehicle a regular service will ensure it delivers its maximum fuel efficiency. Most crucial to increasing the longevity of your engine is a regular oil and oil filter change, coupled with renewing the air filter to allow the engine to breathe.