Can you afford to keep driving?
Maybe, Maybe Not!
Driving is certainly not getting any cheaper! Various pieces of research throughout 2017 indicated that the cost of motoring is continuing to increase. HPI – the vehicle history checking company – found that the cost of motoring rose by more than 10% from 2016 to 2017. Another survey by Consumer Intelligence discovered that 34% of car owners – 42% in London – say they have already cut back on driving because of the cost.
Meanwhile the car rental company Auto Europe surveyed 2000 British motorists and came up with the infographic below that indicates some of the costs of motoring on an annual and lifetime basis. Remembering that these costs are over and above the costs of the car itself it gives a lot of food for thought!
Image credit: AutoEurope
So is there anything that we can do about this? If we own a car are we always going to have to put up with rising costs or are there things that we can do to limit these? Here are ten tips from Logbook Loans that can help car owners to save money and keep on the road!
By far the highest ongoing cost for drivers is fuel. So for those journeys that are essential (see point 10 below) trying to economise on fuel is the best money saving technique you can use. Be careful the type of fuel you buy at the pumps as many petrol stations sell premium unleaded petrol which is more expensive than their normal unleaded, but it is sometimes difficult to spot the difference at the pump. Also look for special offers on fuel: in particular the major supermarkets often have good deals which would make it worth a detour even if it is not where you normally purchase your fuel.
Also be careful about the way you drive and what you use in your car. For example, air conditioning can consume a lot of fuel, as can additional weight in or on the car – so make sure your car is empty of all unnecessary clutter, and remove additional items such as roof racks or bike racks when not being used. Also aim to drive at consistent speeds and avoid lots of accelerating and braking as these too can drain fuel.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the development of electric cars as they have the potential to be a lot more economical in the long run. Check out our article Petrol vs Electric Cars for more information.
All cars over 3 years old in the UK have to have a valid MOT certificate. If you do not have one you could be fined up to £1,000, and even prosecuted. So it’s important to remember to get your car MOT’d. But you can save money. First of all be careful where you get the MOT done. A useful tip is to investigate whether there is a Council MOT testing centre near you. Many councils have MOT test centres for council vehicles but not everyone knows that they are also open to the public. As the centre only does MOTs and is not looking to get more business from you there is no incentive to fail your car for faults that either don’t exist or are borderline. If you do not have a Council MOT centre near you then it may be worth checking out service centres such as Kwikfit and Halfords that provide MOTs as a one-off service rather than being part of a fully functioning garage.
Wherever you get your MOT done, it is a good idea to carry out some simple MOT checks yourself before heading off for the test. Why fail your MOT (and then have to pay for another one!) on minor things that you could fix yourself such as faulty lamps and reflectors, bald tyres, damaged windscreens, ineffective wipers and illegible registration plates.
Your car is more likely to pass its MOT if it is regularly serviced and well maintained. This does not have to cost a fortune and prevention is always better than cure in terms of the well-being of your car. Check out our recent article on Car Maintenance – all you need to know for more help and advice. You can also learn a lot about basic car maintenance from online tutorials. It is also good to find an expert that you trust for when more complicated issues arise. Word of mouth is really valuable here so ask your family and friends for their recommendations. Even better is if you can find someone you know who is good with cars and perhaps can help you with the maintenance while in turn you help them with something else. Never ignore signs that something is wrong with your car – such as warning lights or unusual noises – the earlier you deal with issues the easier they are likely to be to fix.
As well as car maintenance itself, it is important to keep your car clean to keep it in the best possible condition and to make sure that lights work as effectively as they should. The cheapest way to keep your car clean is to wash it yourself, and to clean and vacuum the inside. It is tempting to take it to a service station car wash but the cost can really mount up, so getting into the habit now of regularly cleaning your car will pay dividends in the future.
Insuring your car can be really expensive so it pays to shop around. Research car comparison websites and also check out the companies that do not appear on these websites. Ask around to find recommendations from family and friends. Always read the small print: make sure that you are not paying for things that you do not need. Also consider opting for a slightly higher excess: whilst this would mean you’d have to pay a bit more in the event of an accident, it is also likely to save you money on your premium. Other ways that may help you to reduce your insurance policy are to add a second driver or if your car is not worth very much, consider third party cover instead of a comprehensive policy.
Parking can be a nightmare! Not just the act of parking itself, but also the cost of parking. If you need to drive to work then finding a good value place to park is essential. It is worth investigating whether any nearby car parks have weekly or monthly passes. Also check out websites such as Parkopedia that can check postcodes against databases of thousands of car parks, metered parking and free parking. One other option in many cities is Park & Ride which may work out cheaper and a lot less stressful than parking in the city centre every day.
ROAD TAX / TOLLS
As well as paying our standard road tax charge, all over the UK there are an increasing number toll roads and different types of charges. Also those of us who work in central London are very familiar with the London Congestion Charge! Sometimes your journey will necessitate one of more of these charges but if you can plan accordingly do try to avoid them if at all possible. Sometimes they vary according to CO2 emissions or the type of petrol the vehicle uses so this is something to consider if you keep getting hit with them. Otherwise try to plan your journey to avoid the areas where charges apply, unless the time (and fuel) needed for this is going to outweigh any savings that you do make.
It’s so annoying when you get a traffic fine, particularly if you did not realise that you did anything wrong! So always be on your guard when in traffic. Be aware of speed limits, road signs, bus lanes, parking restrictions, and make sure that you always have your car and insurance documentation with you.
One good way to keep on the road but reduce your costs is to car share with someone else. If you have one or more friends or work colleagues who make the same kind of journey as you, then you could do alternate days or weeks of driving between you. This still gives you the opportunity to drive and give your car an outing, but reduces the running costs and wear and tear on the car. If you don’t have anyone to car share with there are also various websites – such as Carshare – where you can team up with others to give it a try.
AVOID UNNECESSARY JOURNEYS
Last but not least, every time you use your car think about whether your journey is really necessary. This is not to put you off driving but just to use your car more wisely. Some journeys are just as easy to walk, cycle or take public transport. It could be less stressful for you, and also cheaper. If you commute into an office every day it may be worth discussing with your employer if you could perhaps work from home at least one day a week, therefore reducing your commuting time and wear and tear on the car. When arranging meetings consider whether they could be done online instead – there are many different apps that allow two or more people to talk online which can sometimes be more productive. So think before you drive: do you really need to?
We hope that the above tips help you to keep on the road and keep your costs down. Why not check out some of our other articles to read more car advice from Logbook Loans?