Running a car can be a dear do. Fuel costs, insurance, MOT and road tax are all hefty necessary outlays before you even get into things like maintenance, repairs and upgrades.
The price of petrol rose to a three-year high at the start of 2018, with the average cost of unleaded bloating to 121.11p – its most expensive since December 2014, so says the RAC. Similarly, a full 55-litre tank of diesel will hit you for £67.90, which is £4.64 more than it did in the summer.
Yep, there may be many costs associated with motoring, but fuel is the one most likely to bust your bank balance. So to mark National Cut Your Energy Costs Day (Wednesday 10th), we’re highlighting some quick fixes you can execute right now to bring down the financial faff of motoring.
Get the right insurance
Some people often assume that third party insurance is the cheapest option. It is the minimum level of cover required to legally drive on UK roads and will cover you for any damage to another vehicle and protects passengers in your car and the public, but it stops short of covering fire or theft.
There was a time that third party was the cheapest, but in some cases, going fully comprehensive can be the more cost-effective route. This may seem bizarre but being fully comp may mean you’re considered a lower risk.
Update your photocard licence
Moved house recently? If the address on your photocard licence is out of date, you could be fined up to £1,000. Quite silly really as updating will set you back as little as £14 online and no more than £21.50 in a post office.
Check your road tax
Paper tax discs were abolished in 2014, but that doesn’t mean road tax – or vehicle excise duty, as it is officially known – went with it.
The number of untaxed vehicles has tripled to 755,000 since the humble tax disc disappeared from our windscreens, so make sure your car isn’t one of them by entering your reg plate at https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax.
One word of note: even if your car is exempt from paying road tax (an electric car, for instance), it still has to be registered with the DVLA.
Have a clear-out
Some people use their car as a mobile storage compartment as much as a way of getting about, keeping all manner of pointless garbage in the boot and on the back seats.
If you’re carting around anything particularly weighty, you’ll be using more fuel, meaning you’ll be returning to the fuel pumps much sooner than you would be otherwise.
Lighten the load of your car and you’ll ease the burden on your pocket too.
Address bad driving habits
Harsh braking, over-revving and driving too fast in the wrong gear are all surefire ways to run your fuel tank dry sooner rather than later.
Instead of braking frequently, you can conserve fuel by driving slightly slower. Look ahead down the road to anticipate the traffic and you’ll be able to let your car slow naturally. Always drive in the highest gear possible too (without putting a strain on your engine obviously).
Let the council do your MOT
MOTing your car isn’t expensive (it should never cost more than £54.85), but the repairs that can stem from the test have the potential to hit you hard.
Council-run MOT centres generally don’t do repairs, so there’s nothing in it for them by failing your car. People have been quoted repairs approaching four figures, only to have their car pass without any work at a council-run MOT garage.
Stick with the regular fuel
‘Premium’ or ‘high performance’ fuel may sound impressive, but tests have shown that unless you’re driving a high-end sports car, this super fuel is unnecessary.
That said, the AA suggests using a high performance fuel every third or fourth tank full to keep the engine clean and efficient, before switching back to ‘normal’ fuel.
Have your motoring costs spiralled out of control? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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