The cost of living crisis is affecting us all, with prices of the every rising faster than before. Unfortunately, owning a car is an expensive yet essential element of modern life with annual costs easily running into the £1,000s. Even with the lowest cost cars to run, with insurance, tax, mot, servicing, parking, repairs and fuel, the costs quickly rise.
We’re sharing our best tips to keep your car and your wallet happy.
Research Petrol Prices
Petrol and diesel prices did at one point use to be under 100p per litre, granted that was all the back in 2009 (RAC Foundation) but the prices we are seeing now have skyrocketed with some stations charging over 200p per litre.
A handy tool to have in your arsenal is the fuel tracker website www.petrolprices.com which you can view online or through the app. This lets you shop around for the cheapest-priced fuel without leaving the comfort of your home.
Supermarkets tend to have the best prices, and if you use their loyalty programmes, you can get some of your money back in vouchers. They also sometimes offer petrol promotions such as spending £50 in-store and getting 5p off every litre voucher.
Leasing a new car
Buying a car is a big layout, and if you don’t have the money to hand it can be a worrying process. Buying with cold hard cash is always best but if that’s not an option, dealer-based leasing deals can work out between 35-55% cheaper than if you were to buy one with a loan from the bank. Remember that leasing is different to PCP finance, as with leasing you essentially rent the car, and with PCP you are on a payment plan to eventually buy the car.
Car insurance can be really expensive, especially for new drivers but there are some hacks to try to lower the cost.
- Make sure you are estimating the correct mileage. Many people assume they do about 1,000 miles a month so put down 12,000 miles but in actuality, they are driving much less. Use the MOT History Checker to see what your mileage is each year and then you can work out an average.
- Alter your job description until you get the lowest price. Of course, we aren’t advocating lying about your job, but if there are several ways you can describe your role then test them all out.
- The insurance companies bank on you being lazy so will usually put a few extra pounds on your auto-renewal. Do some research and then give them a call to see if you can haggle the price down.
- Download the Topcashback app to see if any offers are available. For instance, as we write this, they are offering a £40 cashback deal for any car insurance bought via Compare the Market or up to £100 for a policy bought with AXA. Make sure to shop around to find the best deal.
- The best time to do your insurance shopping is 23 days ahead, your quotes will then start to increase in price as you approach the expiry date.
Potholes are one of the most common causes of damage to wheels and tyres in the country, with more than 145,000 claims lodged between 2018 and 2021 and over £12 million in compensation being handed out. What’s worth noting here is that you CAN claim money for pothole damage, it’s a laborious task but it can be done. You’ll need to get photographic evidence of the pothole and send this to the council for review. You can see more about how you can claim on our Pothole 101 blog.
Use apps to find the cheapest parking
Parking right at your destination might be the easiest for you, but it’s not always the cheapest. With apps like Parkopedia, you can see all your parking options and the prices for each location. Then you can save a little money, and even get a few more steps in for the day. Double winner!
Add a named driver to your insurance
A top tip for young drivers – getting an experienced driver on your insurance can significantly reduce your policy. Remember, you must put yourself as the main driver, but then you can include your mum for example as a named driver. In the insurer’s eyes, this balances the risk as it’s less likely that you will be driving on every occasion. Just make sure you don’t put yourself as the main driver of a vehicle that isn’t yours, for example, one of your kids. This is called fronting and it’s fraud!
Get repairs done early
Small repairs like a windscreen chip or puncture repair should be done sooner rather than later. A new tyre costs a lot more than a small repair, and a windscreen chip is much less than a new windscreen. Take action quickly as and when you have some spare money available and you’ll save more in the long run.
Practice preventative maintenance at home
Around 35% of cars fail their MOT test the first time, and almost half of all MOTs fail because of really simple, preventative failure items. There are 3 common things you can check at home:
- Are all your lights working? Ask a friend to help you check that each bulb is working properly. Bulbs only cost a few pounds so are easy to replace
- Check your suspension. Now, we don’t expect you to do a full suspension health check however, you can test each shock absorber quickly. Apply your weight to each corner and then release it. The car should settle back quickly. If not, there may be a problem.
- Can you feel tension on the handbrake? This is one that you’ll need a technician to repair but if the brakes feel loose and unresponsive, or the handbrake comes up without any resistance there’s most likely an issue.
Wash your car yourself
Now, this is a really simple one but the costs quickly add up. If you get a car wash every other week costing £6.50, that’s £169 a year. A bucket of soapy water and a hose will be much more cost-effective. Plus, if you have any bookings with us, we include a free complimentary car wash to boot!
Drive gently to improve fuel efficiency
Your work commute doesn’t have to feel like a Colin McCrae journey. Drive steady and you will see your fuel lasting longer and can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 15%. Always use the highest gear possible without labouring the engine and try to slow down naturally using your car’s momentum.
Avoid toll roads and congestion charges
Sometimes easier said than done, but most sat navs will allow you to choose an avoid toll road/congestion charges route. The London congestion charge is £15 per day, and the expansion of the ULEZ (ultra-low emissions zone) means you could be charged a daily fee of £12.50 if you enter the zone in a car that doesn’t meet ULEZ standards.
Don’t use premium fuel on standard cars
Save money at the pumps by choosing the cheaper petrol. Many petrol stations sell premium fuel but studies show that there is little to no performance difference for most standard cars. You should only really be using the super fuels if you have been advised to.
The AA has said that for the majority, high-performance fuels are too expensive for regular use. However, they recommend only using high-performance fuel on the 3rd or 4th tank. This will help to keep the engine clean and efficient but for much less money.