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As any driver will testify, owning and running a car does not come cheap.
In fact, research from American Express reveals that car owners will spend an average of £5,670 over the typical period of car ownership – this figure is just over half the average car purchase price in 2017 (£11,094).
Separate findings from Consumer Intelligence show that rising petrol prices, car insurance increases and road tax hikes are all putting the squeeze on car owners – with one in three having cut back on driving in a bid to save money.
And things only look set to get worse with the recent introduction of the new Vehicle Excise Duty rules at the beginning of April 2017, as these changes will increase motoring costs even further.
The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce some of the expenses associated with owning and running a car, such as petrol, maintenance and insurance.
Here I take a closer look...
Reduce petrol costs
Rising fuel prices were a major contributor to inflation jumping to 2.3% earlier this year – its highest level since December 2014.
That said, in recent weeks there has been a little good news for motorists, with some fuel retailers shaving a few pence a litre off pump prices following a fall in the wholesale prices of both petrol and diesel.
But despite this, fuel costs still remain a burden for many households – plus prices will head upwards again at some point.
With this in mind, it’s well worth taking action right now to drive down petrol costs as far as you can.
Do a bit of research before filling up
One of the simplest ways to cut back on the amount you spend is by visiting Petrolprices.com to find the cheapest place to fill up locally.
Generally speaking, supermarkets offer some of the lowest prices – while motorway service stations are usually the most expensive place to top up your tank.
Before filling up, look out for discount vouchers and try and pair these with a card that offers cashback or rewards on your spending.
Equally, when you’re at the pump, try only topping up your car with the amount you need – as by avoiding having a full tank, the fuel you do have will go slightly further.
Drive more economically
Another good money-saving tip is to drive more economically, as figures from the AA show that cruising at 80mph will use 25% more fuel than cruising at 70mph.
Savings can also be made by letting your car slow down by itself, rather than keeping your foot on the gas until you have to brake heavily.
Have a clear-out
Further savings are available by removing the roof rack, and having a boot clear-out, as removing excess weight from your car can make a real difference. Also keep your use of air con to a minimum.
Check your car is in tip-top condition.
An easy way to cut fuel costs is by taking good care of your car.
While having your car serviced regularly will ensure the engine runs efficiently, there are also a few quick checks you can carry out yourself – including tyre pressure and oil.
Be efficient with your driving
Savings can be made by reducing the number of journeys you need to make. Say, for example, you’re heading out to pick up some groceries or visit a friend, think about other errands you need to run nearby and to these in the same trip, to save you multiple trips to the pump.
Car pool to help save fuel
Equally, if you’re heading to the same place with family, friends or colleagues, buddy up so you can split the cost of petrol.
Alternatively, try a car-sharing service such as Blablacar where you list your upcoming journeys and share the cost with passengers.
Also look into peer-to-peer car sharing – this is where car owners make their vehicles available for others to rent for short periods of time. That way, you can then make a bit of cash by charging a fee for renting out your car when you are not using it.
Walk or cycle instead
Don’t forget that you can cut fuel petrol costs even further by leaving your car at home and walking – or cycling – instead. Not only will you benefit from a boost to your finances – you will also get a health boost at the same time.
Reduce maintenance costs
The average car repair bill in the UK does not come cheap, at around £300 – and bills can often range much higher.
So what can you do to keep costs down?
Before booking your car in for a service, spend a bit of time shopping around, as costs will vary.
Don’t accept the first quote you receive. Make sure you do your research to find the best deals – and look online for the best prices.
Keep your car well maintained
It pays to keep your vehicle in good condition, as this will help you avoid hefty bills when you do take your car to the garage.
Do some DIY
It’s also worth doing a little of your own maintenance before an MOT, as if you change a bulb yourself, it will only cost a few pounds for a new one. Other things to check include washer, brake and anti-freeze fluids.
Make use of tools and apps
There are now a host of tools and apps which can help you reduce the cost of servicing, repairs, and other motoring costs.
For example, Motoreasy assigns customers their own personal technician who negotiates with garages on their behalf, checking proposed work – and ensuring that the best prices for parts and labour are sourced.
Elsewhere, Smartdriverclub offers a range of features, including alerts if a technical problem is emerging, and suggestions of what you can do about it.
Reduce insurance costs
Insurance premiums are climbing, thanks in part to increases to Insurance Premium Tax which has doubled in less than two years. There are also concerns that reforms to the ways personal injury pay-outs are calculated will also hike up annual premiums further still.
But while this makes for gloomy reading, there are steps you take to keep costs under control.
One of the simplest ways to bring down the cost of motor cover is by shopping around at renewal time.
In a positive move, new rules were introduced at the beginning of April 2017 by the Financial Conduct Authority, forcing insurers to include last year’s policy details on renewal letters.
However, findings from Moneysupermarket.com reveal that despite this ruling, more than 8 million drivers will continue to overspend by £2.37bn in the next 12 months by automatically renewing their car cover.
The message is simple – if you auto-renew, you will pay more than you need to, as there are no rewards for loyalty.
Shopping around is the best way to find the most competitive price – and that can mean potential savings of a few hundred pounds a year. Useful sites for comparing quotes include Moneysupermarket.com, Gocompare.com and Comparethemarket.com.
Another easy way to bring down the cost of your insurance is by improving the security of your car. You could, for example, have an alarm or immobiliser fitted. It’s also worth parking your car in a garage or driveway if this is an option, rather than leaving it on the road, as this will also help to reduce your premium.
Try a telematics policy
Younger drivers, in particular, might want to look into a telematics policy, as these reward safer driving with lower premiums. Find out more on Moneysupermarket.
Consider opting for a higher excess
Savings can be made on the cost of cover by increasing your excess.
However, you do need to decide whether paying a lower premium is worth the risk of having to contribute more towards the cost of a claim if you have an accident.
Ditch the added extras
Ask yourself whether you really need added extras, such as a courtesy car, legal assistance, breakdown cover and key cover. While some policies include these types of cover as standard, the cost will be built into the premium – so you may be able to save money by removing them, or choosing a different policy without all those bells and whistles.
Add a safer driver
Look into adding another person, such as a parent to your policy, as this could help to lower premiums.
But take care not to fall into the “fronting” trap – this is where a more experienced driver claims to be the main driver of a younger motorists’ vehicle to get cheaper insurance. This is illegal and a form of insurance fraud.