Having a car adds a lot of convenience to our lives, the freedom to travel in your own time at your own pace. However, paying for a car doesn't end when you get the keys and drive off. The cost of fuel, insurance, vehicle excise duty, MOT tests, servicing, repairs, replacement parts and replacement fluids, it all adds up fast. But, with some careful money management you can curb the costs before they get outrageous, and the following money saving tips should help:
DIY your MOT
MOT tests must be administered by an authorised centre, but many of the checks you can do at home. 1 in 5 MOT tests are failed due to dead lightbulbs. You can check your lights, windscreen wipers and wiper blades, and oil levels yourself. If they need to be replaced order discount parts online and install them yourself before even taking your car to the garage.
At the Garage
- Keep an eye out for cheap deals on MOT tests and servicing.
- Try to build a relationship with your local garage mechanic and they might do small jobs for free.
- If a part needs to be replaced, see if you can find one on the Internet for cheaper before paying the garage price. They can install discount parts just as easily.
Check Your Licence is Valid
Photocard driving licenses need to be renewed every 10 years. It costs £20 to renew, but if you're caught with an expired card you could be charged a £1000 fine.
Third Party or Comprehensive
A month before your insurance expires, start shopping around for quotes. In most cases, third party car insurance is the cheapest option. Third party, fire and theft cover is more expensive, and comprehensive cover is the priciest. However, this isn't always the case, many companies do not offer third party insurance without fire and theft coverage, and stranger still some insurers will give lower quotes for comprehensive coverage. It's difficult to know which will give you the best offer so when comparing insurance quotes, look at all three insurance types.
Haggle for Breakdown Cover
Shop around for cheaper breakdown cover. Even if you don't find any cheaper options, call up your breakdown company and tell them you feel the cost is too high and you're considering cancelling your cover unless they can offer a better deal. Be polite and patient, and you may get offered a discount.
Sometimes traffic charges such as tolls, parking and congestion charges will be cheaper if you pay in advance online, consider this before undertaking a journey. Fines are often cheaper too if you pay them quickly or online.
Drive in a Fuel Efficient Way
- Check oil, coolant and brake fluid regularly
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions on servicing
- Check tyre pressure and buy new tyres online
- Try to stay under 50mph as often as you can
- Remove roof racks, cycle racks etc. when not in use to reduce drag
- Take any excess baggage or unnecessary weight out of the car before a journey
- If the car will be stationary for a minute or longer, turn off the engine
- If your car is in the garage, ask them to check the tracking or wheel alignment. Most places will do this for free
- Don't use electronics or air conditioning in your car if you don't need to.
Don't Drive At All
Although you may feel that after spending so much taxing and insuring your car that you should at least be allowed the luxury of driving it, but if you can avoid driving regularly you will save money on fuel, and the car is less likely to need repairs from wear and tear.Get a bike and cycle, arrange a car pool with work colleagues, take public transport or walk.