While everyone knows running a car isn't cheap, few people realise exactly how much they spend on theirs. It's often difficult to figure out exactly how much you spend on your car, as the final figure can include road tax, servicing, breakdown assistance, repairs (parts and labour), fuel, engine oil, tyres, insurance, driver's license, the MOT test, parking, tolls or congestion charges, de-icer, windscreen solution, and the car wash!
Thankfully, Money Dashboard has a terrific tool that allows you to tag all of these transactions together, to give you a complete picture of how much you spend on motoring per month. The result may shock you.
To keep the shock to a minimum, we suggest you follow this advice:
Walk More & Drive Less
Over a fifth of UK drivers cut their mileage by at least 2,500 miles last year, and 35% of car owners plan to walk more in 2012 to save money, but it's just not walking: you can cycle, or take public transport. There are several ways to get between two points, and driving is one of the costlier methods.
Ditch the Second Car
Many households own two cars when they really don't need to. The number of two-car households in the UK has fallen by 5% in the last 12 months. With a little bit of scheduling, and possibly a travel card for bus, train or subway, you and your family might be able to get by with just one vehicle.
How fuel efficient is your car? 27% of motorists will be looking for better fuel economy on their next vehicle. Look for diesel engines for efficiency, and cars that have free Vehicle Excise Duty, or congestion charge exemptions, as these are indicators of good fuel efficiency. Motoring website honestjohn.co.uk asserts that as of 15 November 2011, the cheapest and most fuel efficient new car is the Kia Rio Ecodynamics, followed closely the Smart ForTwo CDI, the Citreon C3 e-HDi Airdream, and the Skoda Fabia Greenline II.
Consider a used car warranty programme to protect against unforeseen motoring expenses. You may assume that there are no warranties on used cars, but this is not always the case, and it is worth contacting your vehicle's manufacturer.
Choose the Right Oil
Different engine oils are better for different vehicles' performances and fuel efficiency. Mobil 1's Which Oil tool allows you to identify the most appropriate oil for your engine. It may also be worth considering a Service Plan as this will cover the cost of servicing the car, including oil and labour rates, for an average of 3 years after purchase.
Pay Your Credit Card Bill
While 58% of Britons use a credit card to pay for their fuel, 28% are paying off less than 25% of their credit card balance each month. When you add the interest from your credit card bill, the cost of fuel is even higher. Try to pay off your credit card debt as soon as it comes in every month, and if you can, use cash or a debit card to pay for fuel.