Motoring is an expensive necessity for most people. Yet in this age of austerity it is perfectly possible to slash your bills for insurance, fuel and other recurrent motoring costs if you follow a few basic guidelines. In this article we look at several major areas of expenditure for the motorist and suggest various ways in which to reduce your outgoings for new and used cars.
By far the largest recurring expense for the motorist is fuel, yet with a little forethought, you could slash hundreds of pounds per year from your annual bill. It may sound obvious, but sourcing the lowest local forecourt prices will add up – there are various free phone apps and websites which will provide updates on the cheapest fuel in the area.
Supermarkets also have loyalty schemes which can increase savings. Tesco for example have a promotion where each £50 spend in store gains you an additional 2p per litre off fuel; these can be stacked ensuring huge discounts at the pump. Stores such as Sainsbury’s offer Nectar points on your fuel spend, which can provide savings on your bills when cashed in.
Once you’ve found the best deals, changing your driving habits can also save money. Gentler acceleration and braking for example can provide a large boost in economy, while ditching excess weight such as unnecessary items in the boot, or a hefty roof storage box, will also improve your fuel consumption. Ensuring your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure will also provide optimum efficiency.
One of the biggest outgoings, particularly for younger drivers, is your insurance policy. With premiums seeming to rise annually, a good way to cut costs is to use comparison websites, rather than just renewing with your existing provider. If you can source a better deal online, it’s worth talking to your provider to see if they’ll match, or even beat, that price to reward your loyalty. Cashback websites such as Quidco or TopCashback can also provide a handy cash return simply by shopping through their website – it’s the same deal as gained by shopping direct, but gives you money back.
Younger drivers can also find that adding a second, older driver to their policy may slash their cost, while many insurers now also offer “black box” monitoring of your driving; this can again provide a substantial discount if you drive sensibly. Careful driving should also benefit your fuel economy, and help save further money, as well as the obvious reduction of risk. It’s also worth shopping around if you work in the motor trade, are female, or an older motorist – some sites offer policies specifically aimed at these categories, some of which aren’t included on price comparison sites. So for a few hours’ research, the savings can stack up.
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When it comes to vehicle maintenance, regular servicing is a must. Not only will it ensure that your car runs at its most efficient, and avoid more serious problems down the line, a full service history has been proven to add value when a car is traded or sold privately – some buyers are willing to pay 10% more for a car with a full history.
Big savings can also be made by using a local, independent garage for repairs and servicing rather than the major franchise dealers who tend to have a higher servicing cost. However, it’s important to ensure that any parts used are manufacturer-approved as this could affect your warranty. Don’t just plump for the cheapest price on offer, quality is equally important. If you have purchased a new car, it’s often worth paying an upfront cost for several years servicing at the garage of purchase before you’ve taken off the trade plates, as this can work out cheaper than returning independently each year.
Your annual MOT can also be carried out at a council-approved MOT garage, which purely tests your car and thus has no interest in carrying out unnecessary repairs. If you make regular spot checks and replace any faulty light bulbs, this will also boost your chances of success – and save you unnecessary labour costs into the bargain.
By adhering to a few simple guidelines and doing your research, the average motorist could save hundreds of pounds per annum – running a car is expensive, so every pound saved is a bonus.