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Money saving

How to save money on your car

Posted 02 October 2016 by Christine Walsh

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We share our top tips for saving money, if you’re running a car.

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to saving money on all things cars. Having your own car can be great. The independence it can provide you can be invaluable, and of course for some people it’s absolutely essential for their work. 

It can’t be denied, however, that running a car can be very expensive. Some car costs are unavoidable, but there are some ways to keep your spending to minimum – let’s go through them. 

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Car insurance

This comes first as it’s an important legal requirement and, apart from buying the car itself, is probably the biggest cost. You’ll need at least third-party car insurance – this will pay out for any damage to another driver’s car or property in accidents you cause.

Make sure you compare the prices out there: sites like MoneySuperMarket and GoCompare will show you what’s on offer.  

If you’re just looking to renew your car insurance, comparing is just as important as insurers normally offer their best deals to new customers. Just make sure that the policies you’re comparing cover everything you need. 

There are two types of excess when it comes to car insurance – compulsory excess and voluntary excess. The compulsory excess is decided by your insurer whereas, as the name suggests, you decide how much you’re willing to pay in voluntary excess. If you have an accident, you will have to pay both the compulsory and voluntary excess before the insurance kicks in and covers the rest. 

See whether you can reduce your premium by increasing the amount of voluntary excess. Just always ensure that you can realistically afford it. 

Make sure you’re only paying for what you need when it comes to insurance – all those extras, like legal expenses and a courtesy car, might not be necessary. 

Petrol and diesel

Another expense is buying petrol or diesel, so it’s really important you keep the cost down as much as possible. PetrolPrices.com will give you the lowest petrol price in your area – pretty nifty! 

This may not always be possible, but see if you can avoid driving during rush hour. You’ll stop and start less and so use less fuel on your journey. Checking your tyre pressure is right, not carrying around unnecessary weight (or a roof rack) and accelerating and braking gradually are also good little tips to remember, if you’re trying to use less fuel. 

MOT

Once a car is three years old, it needs to go through an MOT test every year to make sure it’s still roadworthy. 

You do have to pay for this test, the maximum cost being £54.85. Not all test centres charge the same amount for the test however. Your local council may have their own MOT testing stations for council vehicles, like buses and vans, but any member of the public is still allowed to have their personal vehicle tested there as well. It’s worth checking with your council to see how much they charge. 

If your car fails its MOT, it needs to be re-tested. The re-tests are sometimes free depending on what the car failed for and where you get the re-test done. Here you can find a list of what you can fail on and still get a free re-test. As long as your car has failed for one of these reasons, and you have it re-tested at the same test centre within 10 days of it failing, the re-test should be free. 

Before you go for your MOT, you should make sure that your car isn’t going to fail on something you could have easily checked and fixed beforehand. Check all your lights are working, your tyre pressure is correct, and the windscreen isn’t damaged. 

General maintenance

As with anything in life, cars suffer from wear and tear and if you own one, you have to expect that at some point you’ll have to shell out for repairs and general maintenance. But taking really good care of your vehicle is a sure-fire way to minimise the costs of repairs and maintenance

If your car needs something doing to it, make sure you shop around and find a garage that a) you trust and b) is charging you a reasonable amount based on your comparisons. 

Make sure you familiarise yourself with your car’s service manual. This will tell you what checks you need to do on your car, how to do them and how often. 

Always make sure your tyre pressure matches with what is recommended in your manual. Apart from the financial saving, you will be minimising the risk of your tyres blowing and causing an accident. 

You should always make sure that your brakes are working properly – a strange grinding noise is cause for concern. Apart from the obvious safety benefit of properly working brakes, not getting them looked at sooner rather than later can sometimes result in them failing altogether and you having to pay for them to be replaced. 

Getting your car serviced

Every now and then it’s necessary for you to get your car serviced – your manual should tell you how often your particular model of car needs servicing. 

This may not be a legal requirement like the MOT, but by doing this you’ll stop any little problems becoming big, expensive ones further down the line and increase your car’s re-sale value. 

For more information on how to get your car serviced have a look at this Money Advice Service page. You’ll also see a rundown of the costs you could incur if you don’t get your car serviced. 

Car tax

Another expense that you can’t get around is your road tax. This is the tax that you have to pay for every vehicle that will be used on the road. 

What you have to pay is based on what year your car was registered, you can find out more information on this Government page. The best way to stop this cost causing you headaches is to save a little towards it every so often. You can also pay it by direct debit, monthly, every six months or yearly. 

Car-sharing

If you’re in a position where you can realistically cut down on how much you use your car, this will definitely reduce the costs involved. 

One way to do this is to share a lift to and from work. See whether your employer runs this kind of scheme, or if they don’t, Liftshare might be able to help. This is a service that matches drivers and lift-seekers, so you can both save money by sharing travel costs, whilst helping the environment at the same time. 

Public transport

It might be an option for you to start using public transport, or even walk more depending on where you live. It might be worth seeing if there are certain journeys here and there you could make using an alternative means of transport and save some money. 

Have a look at our previous blog how to get around for less, for even more tips. Here you’ll learn how to save more if you’re travelling by train, and about the concessions available on public transport. 

So there you have it. Some essential information on how to keep the costs of running your car to a minimum. If you’re looking to save money on any other area of life, make sure you check out the rest of the blog for loads of tips. 

 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.