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Ways You Can Save on Everyday Car Expenses: Tips for Motorists

Owning and operating a car can be quite expensive, especially when you consider the multitude of costs that accumulate on a daily basis. Fuel prices in the UK are among the highest in Europe, mainly due to taxes. In addition, car insurance rates can vary dramatically based on factors like age, location, and driving history, but they are generally costly.

Then there are the daily parking fees, which can be exorbitant, particularly in our major cities. Routine maintenance isn’t cheap either, with regular MOT tests, servicing, and the occasional repair bills adding to the expenses. Furthermore, residents of cities with congestion charge zones have to pay a daily fee to drive in certain areas during peak hours.

Lastly, incidental costs like tolls, fines for parking or speeding, and the wear and tear on tyres and brakes contribute to the everyday financial burden of motoring. All of these factors combined make the daily cost of car ownership a significant financial commitment.

So, we’ve put together some tips on how you can save money on your car costs.

Fuel Efficiency

Compare Fuel Prices

Comparing fuel prices in the UK is essential for motorists looking to save money, given that the country has some of the highest fuel costs in Europe. Various apps and websites provide real-time information on petrol and diesel prices across different stations, allowing drivers to find the most affordable options in their area. By taking a few minutes to compare prices before filling up, motorists can make informed decisions that could save them a significant amount over the course of a year.

Efficient Driving

Efficient driving can make a substantial difference in fuel consumption. Adopting good driving habits such as smooth acceleration, maintaining a steady speed, and avoiding rapid braking can improve a car’s miles-per-gallon (MPG), reducing fill-up frequency. Over time, these savings can accumulate, potentially reducing your annual fuel expenses by a noteworthy margin.

Regular Maintenance

Regular car maintenance can lead to significant cost savings for motorists by enhancing fuel efficiency and preventing minor issues from escalating into expensive repairs. For instance, keeping tyres properly inflated can improve mileage, while regular oil changes and air filter replacements ensure that the engine runs smoothly, thereby reducing wear and tear.

Additionally, regular check-ups can catch potential problems early on, such as issues with the brakes or transmission, allowing for less expensive fixes compared to the cost of major repairs or replacements down the line.


Related Reading: How To Save Fuel: 6 Top Tips


Car Insurance

Use Black Boxes

Installing a black box in your car can help you save money on insurance premiums by monitoring your driving habits and providing data to insurers, who may offer discounts for safe driving behaviour. These devices track factors like speed, acceleration, braking, and the times you drive, enabling a more personalised insurance rate based on your actual risk profile rather than generalised statistics.

Young or inexperienced drivers, who typically face higher insurance costs, can especially benefit from this technology by demonstrating responsible driving, thereby reducing their insurance expenses.

Invest in an Extended Car Warranty

Investing in an extended warranty for your car can offer financial protection to drivers by covering the cost of repairs and parts. This can be particularly beneficial for those driving older or high-mileage vehicles, where the likelihood of mechanical failure and the associated repair costs are higher. By paying for a warranty upfront or in instalments, you can avoid unexpected and potentially significant out-of-pocket expenses, making managing your overall car ownership costs easier.


Related Reading: Do I Need Extended Car Warranty For A Used Car


Repairs & Maintenance

DIY Basics

Learning how to perform simple tasks like changing wiper blades or air filters can provide significant financial benefits, especially when it comes to saving on labour costs. These are tasks that often don’t require specialised tools or extensive automotive knowledge, yet many people pay a premium to have them done at a garage or dealership.

You can easily grasp the basics of these simple maintenance tasks by investing a small amount of time to watch instructional videos or read manuals. You will save money that would otherwise go towards labour costs and gain a sense of empowerment and confidence in maintaining your own vehicle. Over the course of a year, these small savings can add up, making your overall car ownership experience more affordable and less reliant on professional services for every minor issue.

Independent Garages

Considering independent garages for repairs and MOT tests can be a financially savvy choice, as they often offer services at a fraction of the cost compared to official dealerships. However, while saving money is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of quality, especially when it comes to car parts and service.

Before committing to an independent garage, it’s crucial to do some research to ensure they have a good reputation and use high-quality, reliable parts for repairs. Customer reviews and recommendations can provide valuable insights into a garage’s credibility and the standard of their work.

Choosing an independent garage that balances affordability with quality allows you to maintain your vehicle’s performance and safety without breaking the bank.


Related Reading: How Often Should You Service Your Car For Optimal Performance?



Free Parking Spaces

Utilising apps or websites that list free parking spaces can be a great way to save money, especially in urban areas where parking fees can quickly add up. These platforms usually provide real-time information, allowing you to find convenient spots without circling the block endlessly.

However, it’s crucial to read the signage carefully once you arrive at the parking space, as restrictions may apply for certain hours or days, and overlooking these details could result in expensive fines.

Residential Permits

If you live in a busy area where parking is scarce or expensive, investing in a residential parking permit could offer long-term cost savings. These permits usually come at a fixed fee and allow you to park within designated zones near your home, eliminating the need to pay daily or hourly rates at parking metres or garages.

Before committing, it’s worth doing the maths to compare the cost of a permit against what you’d typically spend on daily parking to ensure it is indeed a more economical option.


Related Reading: The Most Economical Family Cars In The UK: 2023 Edition


Tolls & Congestion Charges

Plan Your Route

Avoiding toll roads and congestion charge zones can be a simple yet effective way to cut down on daily commuting costs. By planning your route carefully, you can navigate around these costly areas, which is especially beneficial for those who drive frequently.

Navigation apps offering toll-free route options can make this easier, helping you maintain a more budget-friendly drive without sacrificing too much time or convenience.

Pay in Advance

For motorists who can’t avoid toll roads or congestion charge zones, paying these fees in advance or setting up an account can offer financial savings. Many toll operators and city councils offer discounts or reduced rates for pre-paid accounts, making it a more economical option than paying on the spot.

Managing these expenses through an account saves you money and streamlines the payment process, reducing the likelihood of late fees or fines.


Related Reading: The Least Depreciating Cars For New Drivers In The UK: Get The Best Value For Money


Public Transport & Car Sharing

Off-Peak Travel

If possible, travelling during off-peak hours can be a smart way to save both fuel and time. During these hours, roads are generally less congested, which means less time idling in traffic and, therefore, less fuel consumption.

Not only does this result in immediate savings at the pump, but it also allows for a more efficient use of your time, as you can reach your destination more quickly and with less stress.

Car Share

Car-sharing with colleagues can be an excellent strategy for reducing fuel costs and parking expenses if you commute to work. By sharing a ride, you and your coworkers can split the costs of petrol and any parking fees, which can lead to substantial savings over time.

Beyond the financial benefits, car-sharing is also a more environmentally friendly option, reducing the number of cars on the road and thereby decreasing each person’s carbon footprint.


Related Reading: The UK’s Most Reliable Used Car Manufacturers (And The Least)


Seasonal Tips

Winter Tyres

Investing in winter tyres may require an upfront expenditure, but it’s a move that can provide significant long-term financial benefits. The enhanced grip and performance of winter tyres can substantially reduce the risk of accidents in icy or snowy conditions, thereby potentially saving you the considerable expense of collision repairs and insurance claims.

Moreover, avoiding accidents also means avoiding the potential spikes in insurance premiums that often follow a claim, making winter tyres a wise investment for both your safety and your wallet.

Check Fluids

Properly maintaining the levels of essential fluids like coolant and oil is crucial for vehicle performance and longevity, especially in the extreme temperatures of summer and winter. Neglecting this basic task can lead to overheating in hot weather or freezing in cold conditions, both of which can cause severe damage to your engine and other components.

Regularly checking and topping up these fluids can prevent potentially catastrophic failures that result in expensive repairs, keeping your car running smoothly regardless of the season.


Related Reading: The Importance of Car Fluids: A Guide to Keeping Your Vehicle Running Smoothly



Loyalty Cards

Use loyalty cards or apps offering discounts, fuel, or car wash service points.

Eco Mode

If your car has an ‘Eco’ mode, use it. This adjusts various factors of your car’s performance to improve fuel efficiency.

Every car is different; not all tips may apply or benefit you. It’s always best to consult your owner’s manual and a professional for advice tailored to your specific vehicle.


Related Reading: Is My Car Fuel Efficient? Most Fuel-Efficient Cars in the UK