I’ve been researching buying a car (lots of fun test driving!), and have to make a decision soon, so the guest post today is great timing. If you want to save a few pennies, and let’s face it we all do, then hopefully if you’ve been a bit blase about your driving in the past, hopefully you’ll get some tips. Then it’s just a case of deciding what to spend your saved money on…
At a time when we’re all watching the pennies, rising fuel prices have meant that running a vehicle is costing more than ever before. Add to that the price of an MOT, annual service and car insurance premiums, plus the occasional fault with your car, and it’s no surprise that many of us find it hard to afford to drive.
We’ve come up with five ways to help you cut the cost of driving.
1. Drive economically
Changing your driving habits can mean you burn less fuel and this, in turn, can save you pounds. Firstly, be gentle with your gearbox and drive more slowly. Braking late, accelerating quickly, using the wrong gear and speeding all use significantly more fuel than smooth driving. These bad driving habits also produce greater wear and tear and can create an unpleasant ride for your passengers.
Secondly, use your head. Turning off your engine in heavy traffic and using the air con as little as possible are obviously going to save on fuel. Similarly, you’ll use less fuel if you have an empty boot and keep windows shut, as it will make it easier for your car to move.
2. Reduce your mileage
Drive less and you’ll consequently decrease your fuel consumption. Covering fewer miles may help you save money on your car insurance, too – and it’s easier to do than you think. For example, instead of taking the car, travel short distances on foot. Walking is free, it’ll keep you fit and you won’t need to worry about parking. If you really don’t want to walk – or the distance just isn’t walkable – go by bus or train. With no fuel and parking costs, it could still be cheaper than driving.
When you do get behind the wheel, choose the least congested route. A shorter distance might sound the most economical option, but not if it means sitting in traffic.
3. Source the cheapest fuel
The average driver is spending approximately £1,720 per annum on fuel, according to a 2011 survey by Sainsbury’s Bank Car Insurance. That’s almost a third more than we were spending the year before. With spiralling petrol prices, we all want to keep our petrol and diesel expenses to a minimum. One of the best ways to lessen these costs is to find the cheapest place to buy fuel in your area – and you can do this in a few clicks of a mouse. Simply log onto www.petrolprices.com, enter your postcode or town, and voilà!
4. Choose a vehicle that’s cheap to tax
Drivers pay vehicle excise duty (commonly known as road tax), which isn’t just one price for all. If your car was registered before 1 March 2001, your road tax band is based on your engine size. For cars registered after that date, it’s calculated according to your car’s CO2 emissions. Basically, the smaller your car engine or the greener your vehicle, the less you’ll pay.
Some vehicles – electric cars and those manufactured before 1973, for example – are exempt from road tax, whilst Band B and C cars cost only £20 and £30 respectively. Band M cars, however, cost £460 a year to tax, so it pays to buy a car in a lower tax band. For a full list of Band A, B and C vehicles, visit www.roadtaxprices.co.uk.
5. Find a good value insurance policy
There are many ways to keep the cost of your car insurance down, but it is most important to look for the best deal. Just make sure that you compare like for like. Consider increasing your voluntary excess. This usually reduces your premium, but don’t make it so high that you can’t afford to pay it should you need to make a claim.
Other ways to lower your insurance include reducing your mileage, fitting an anti-theft device, storing your car in a garage or drive off the street, keeping a clean driving record and taking an advanced driving course.
Don’t settle on the lowest quote just because of the price, as a cheap policy might not give you adequate cover for your needs.
By following this advice, you could see the amount you spend on your car drop significantly.
Tara Nathanson writes for Sainsbury’s Bank on a range of topics including car insurance, motor maintenance and other vehicle topics. In her spare time she likes going to the cinema and doing yoga and Zumba classes, and at weekends she enjoys hanging out with her six-year-old son.