How To Save Money As A Driver
Motoring costs rocketing? Here are some quick tips to save money: some will earn you many pounds, some just a few pennies, but they all add up.
1. Service your vehicle regularly
It sounds basic but keeping on top of your car’s servicing is the best thing you can do to get the most out of your car and to maintain reliability. The investment in an annual service will save you pounds on repair bills and potentially avoid a stressful breakdown.
Regular servicing is vital to keep your car in tip-top condition and prolong its life.
Service intervals are based on time or miles driven – once a year or every 10,000 miles, for example.
Check the handbook to find out when your car is due a service and what work is required.
Many modern cars have warning lights on the dashboard to alert you when maintenance is needed, too.
Broadly speaking, you should budget for a ‘minor’ service once a year and a ‘major’ service every two or three years.
A minor service includes changing the oil and oil filter, and replacing other fluids if necessary.
Depending on the car and mileage, a major service may also cover replacement of the air filter, spark plugs and cambelt.
2. Buy economical tyres
Yes, the type of tyre makes a big difference. While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest available, that can prove to be a mistake in the long run.
Not only do such tyres not perform as well as more expensive tyres (tests show they often increase stopping distance and have a negative effect on handling), but they may also hit your fuel economy and need replacing more regularly.
Something that not many people know to look out for is the tyre's EU tyre label. All tyres sold are fitted with one and it includes the fuel efficiency rating of the tyre.
An ‘A’ rating means the tyre decreases the energy lost through the tyre (often referred to as ‘low rolling resistance’), while a G rating is the worst performing - resulting in increased CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
Research conducted by Which? found that a good quality ‘eco’ or ‘energy saver’ tyre could improve fuel economy by around 2.5mpg compared with the worst tyre for rolling resistance.
That could slash £50 off your yearly fuel bill, helping to offset the cost of buying good quality, premium brand tyres.
3. Check your tyre pressures
This simple check can save you big. OK, it might cost you 50p or £1 to do it at a filling station, but the savings soon add up. You could also buy an electric pump and check and inflate yourself, rather than go to a garage. Tyres under inflated by 15psi - a difference you may not notice from a visual glance - can use 6% more fuel. That’s the difference between averaging 40mpg and 42mpg. Or, to put it another way, an additional 26 miles from a 60-litre tank of fuel. Based on the current average price for a litre of diesel, you’ll spend £1,365.08 a year at 40mpg or £1,300.10 at 42mpg – a difference of £65.
4. Don’t press the accelerator when you start the car
Every car today has engine electronics that regulate the car starting procedure.
A few years ago, you needed to use a little gas to get the car running - but you don’t need to do this anymore.
So don’t waste the extra fuel and risk damage to your engine by doing it, the car will start cleanly without your pedal on the metal.
5. Drive gently when the car is cold
Cars are at their least efficient when they are cold.
If you drive quickly straight from start-up, you are redoubling the wasted fuel, and also wearing out the engine more quickly in the process.
Show some mechanical sympathy and you’ll immediately start saving money.
On a related matter, you shouldn’t allow your engine to idle for too long.
Today’s engines are designed to operate from the moment you turn the key – warming the engine is no longer required.
If you like the cabin to feel warm on a cold day, it might be worth investing in a car with heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Remember to turn them off when you’ve warmed up, as they will increase your fuel consumption when switched on.
6. Hunt out cheap fuel
You can save many pennies per litre – and therefore many pounds over the course of a year – by searching for the cheapest fuel.
Driving out of your way to fill up with cheap fuel is a false economy, but what steps can you take to ensure you don’t spend more than is necessary?
Get to know the petrol stations in your local area, making a mental note of the price per litre as you drive by.
You can find a difference of a few pence on the same street and it might be worth making a small detour to make a big saving.
Also take advantage of supermarket and fuel retailer loyalty cards which can come in handy in cutting fuel costs.
The more you fill up, the more points you’ll accrue, which can be exchanged for vouchers when you come to fill-up.
Small changes matter, because at 42mpg and 10,000 miles a year, a 10p increase in the price of diesel would cost an extra £100.82 over the course of 12 months.
Remember though, driving far out your way in order to pick up cheap fuel is a false economy, which becomes even more negligible the less economical your car.
7. Choose wisely, petrol or diesel?
Once, buying a diesel instead of a petrol would automatically save you money.
That’s not necessarily true today.
For starters, diesels cost more than petrols: on a supermini-sized car, the premium can be 10% or more.
Diesel fuel costs no less than petrol and, while they usually give better economy, efficient new petrol engines are catching up.
Unless your annual mileage is very high or you predominantly drive on motorways or other major roads, you might be best sticking to petrol.
As a rule of thumb, if you drive more than 10,000 miles in a year - and in particular tend to drive on faster roads - a diesel-engined car could work out cheaper. Anything less than that and a petrol-engined car might make more sense.
8. Haggle on car insurance
Car insurance can be one of the biggest motoring costs you face annually.
Figures released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) revealed that, on average, comprehensive cover costs £462 a year – the equivalent of £38.50 a month.
Don’t simply accept your auto-renewal quote, give your insurer a call to see if you can haggle and reduce it.
Before you do so, make sure you see how well your quote and benefits compare against other insurance providers.
You should also consider the factors that influence the cost of your premium.
These include the type of car, where you live, where the car is kept overnight, your age, driving experience and your history of claims.
While you’ll be unable to change your personal circumstances, you can make savings by storing the car in the garage, reducing the number of miles you drive or you could purchase ‘black box’ insurance. You could consider borrowing a car when you need one and taking our temporary car insurance. Policies can be set up within 15 minutes and taken out for as little as an hour and up to 30 days. For learner drivers, there are flexible, short-term learner driver policies that allow you to pay only for what you need until you pass your test. From a day up to 5 months.
9. Claim for pothole damage
According to Potholes.co.uk, as many as one in 10 mechanical failures in the UK are caused by potholes, costing motorists an estimated £730 million every year.
Also the RAC breakdown data suggests pothole-related breakdowns have increased this year despite the mild weather, so your chances of falling victim to pothole damage are relatively high.
If a pothole causes damage to your car, you may be able to claim compensation.
The chances of your claim successful, however, will significantly depend on whether the pothole has already been reported as councils cannot be held liable for a defect they are not aware of.
So it's worth being part of the solution and reporting them when you see them in the first place, which you can do remotely on your mobile using handy pothole reporting apps.
In 2016, local councils were forced to spend £102 million repairing 1.7 million potholes, with the average hole in the road costing an estimated £49 to fill.
10. Add family members to your car insurance
We are not recommending 'fronting' as this is illegal.
But presuming they drive your car as well as you, adding your partner as a named driver on the family car can balance the risk and reduce your premium by a few pounds.
Also, if you’ve previously been a named driver on a policy and have yet to build up a no-claims bonus, but your partner has, some providers will allow you to transfer your partner's no claims bonus and therefore their discount, to your new policy.
A word of caution: adding a young or inexperienced driver could increase your premium, as the insurer will base the cost on the driver with the most risk.
11. Appeal against parking tickets
Think you’ve been unfairly caught out by a parking ticket? Try appealing it.
According to the MoneySavingExpert, 56% of motorists who went all the way to the official, independent appeals body were successful in their claim.
Provide evidence, check the terms and conditions, present a mature and balanced case, and sometimes the ticket can be overturned. If you’re certain it’s unfair, it’s worth submitting an appeal.
If you’ve been issued a ticket and have to hold your hands up, you usually have 28 days to pay. In some cases the fines will be reduced by 50% if you pay within 14 days.
12. Don’t overestimate your annual mileage when buying insurance
If you generally tell your insurance company you cover 10,000 miles a year but you in reality drive far less than this, you could be paying for a higher-risk premium than is actually needed.
Give the company a realistic figure instead - but don’t underestimate, or you could be left without cover.
13. Pay as you go car insurance options
Car insurance makes up a large part of the cost of motoring. So, why pay for the miles you don’t drive?
If you are driving under 6,000 miles per year you could be saving on your car insurance.
Traditionally you would estimate the miles you drive and your premium (amongst other factors) would be based on that.
What if you don’t drive as much? Pay by Mile car insurance means you only pay for the miles you do drive, plus a monthly parked premium for when you’re not.
14. Park away from other cars
If your car is on finance, it will be assessed for condition before you hand it back. You’ll be charged if any rectification is needed.
An easy way to reduce the risk of damage it to park away from other cars, so their car doors can’t damage it, and they can’t scrape it when driving in and out.
Remember, even small car park panel dings are logged by the dealer on the condition report. If you own your vehicle, any potential buyer will definitely use dings and scrapes as a way to haggle you down on price, too.
15. Buy a smartphone holder
If you are caught using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel, you are now fined £200 and given six points on your licence.
If you use your smartphone for navigation or as an audio player, and it is not in a fixed position, you could be penalised for breaking the law.
Avoid the risk by securing it in a smartphone holder, ideally fixed to the dashboard, not the windscreen so it does not obscure your view.
A good quality smartphone holder will set you back between £10 and £20, but this works out a lot cheaper than the potential fine and points on your licence.
Remember, having endorsements on your licence might increase your insurance premium, further increasing your motoring costs.
16. Don’t use your windscreen wipers on ice
Windscreen wipers can cost £20 or more to replace. And they’ll wear out much more quickly if you use them on ice in winter - you even risk tearing them entirely. Scrape the screen or use de-icer instead - this is also much safer (and less irritating for sleeping neighbours). If you haven’t got a scraper, prices start from as little as £1.
17. Maintain your car’s battery
If you don’t use your car for long periods of time, the battery will degrade and go flat. Consider using a trickle charger to keep the battery topped-up if your car is left in a garage for an extended period of time or a battery conditioner if it appears to hold less charge than usual. If your battery does go flat, having to jump start a car puts additional strain on the battery and may damage the engine management system and other delicate electronics: a double-whammy of increased wear. To look after your battery without a trickle charger, you should try to drive your car at least once a week if possible – particularly in winter.
18. Keep the weight down
Avoid keeping heavy loads and loose items in your car when not required and pay careful attention when packing your car for a family holiday or long trip. And don’t forget to remove luggage racks and roof bars when you no longer need them as they will add significantly to the drag on your car and push up fuel consumption. Motor manufacturers are constantly looking at ways to reduce the weight of their vehicles to increase the miles per gallon and to meet the emissions requirements. So it makes a lot of sense for you to keep the weight carried by your car to a minimum wherever possible. Carrying extra weight is a sure-fire way to dent your car’s fuel economy. You’ll also put additional wear-and-tear on your tyres, brakes and suspension. A practical solution is simply to remove any unnecessary objects from the car. Start with the door pockets and glovebox, then look under the seats for any stray toys or drink bottles. Moving on to the boot, clear out everything you don’t need. Just remember to leave the toolkit, jack and locking wheel nut key in case of emergencies. It’s also a good idea to keep a breakdown kit in there just in case you’re unlucky enough to break down.
19. Don’t run low on fuel
When you run low on petrol your fuel pump will draw on air, debris and sediment found in the bottom of the fuel tank in an attempt to power your car. The unwanted materials can clog the system and eventually corrode your pump and filters, potentially blocking fuel and preventing your car from starting. Owners of diesel cars should be particularly cautious of low fuel levels as the powerful injectors in their engines draw large quantities of air into the system, which can prevent the engine turning over. Keeping fuel levels high can avoid expensive repair bills further down the road.
20. Don’t scrimp on parts
Manufacturers cover millions of miles and spend billions on research and development to ensure their cars are as reliable as possible. So why put that in jeopardy with inferior-quality ‘pattern’ parts just to save a few pounds? Using original parts could actually save you money in the long-run by keeping your car on the road. And when it comes to classic cars in particular, using original parts is key to future value. Giving your car the best also applies to the fluids you use. Look up the engine oil recommended in the handbook and, especially if you have a performance car that needs ‘premium’ fuel (e.g. super unleaded), use it. That’s what the car has been designed and developed for.
Halfway Garage only uses quality parts either from the original manufacturer or equivalent replacement parts and we would recommend you do too to keep your car in the best condition and help maintain its value. We also offer Eco Mapping to ensure your vehicle operates at optimum efficiency.