Owning and driving a car comes at a big cost. As well as the initial outlay of buying a car in the first place, there are ongoing costs to factor in during the year, including fuel, road tax, insurance and maintenance.
It doesn’t help that the price of fuel has been steadily increasing, as has the price of used cars - in part because of delays in getting hold of a new one.
But the thrifty driver can always find ways to reduce costs as much as possible. Here are ten ways you can save money as a driver.
1. Buying a new car? Be shrewd about new car options and extras
If you buy a new car, you’ll be offered all sorts of options and extras. Of course, there’ll be some features you really want or need. But you should also consider longevity and resale value when choosing between which add-ons, if any to take. For example, upgraded stereos are pricey and may not hold their value, while on the other hand, metallic paint is often sought after by second-hand buyers, which can add to a car’s resale value. See our article for help on the best options and extras to choose.
2. Haggle when car shopping
It’s always good to try and haggle down the asking price when buying a vehicle. According to Money Advice Service research, nearly two thirds (64%) of those who tried to negotiate when buying a car were successful. If you’re not sure how to get started, read our tips to get the best price at a car dealership. It’s always worth a try, as ultimately the seller wants your business.
3. Don’t be afraid of (all) high mileage cars
A used car with a high mileage can certainly put off some car buyers. But high mileage shouldn’t necessarily rule it out. If you do your homework, you can make big savings by finding a used car with a high mileage. Try and choose a brand with a track-record for being reliable and durable.
4. Pay less for insurance
There are several ways you could reduce the cost of your car insurance. For example, if you add security measures such as a tracker or an immobiliser, as the lower your chances of making a claim, the cheaper your insurance should be.
Find out more ways to cut the costs of your insurance here.
5. Check your tyre pressures
Keeping your tyres at the right pressure is a basic bit of car maintenance that can keep you safer on the roads as well as saving you some money. This is because under-inflated tyres increase your vehicle’s drag, reducing fuel efficiency and making driving conditions more dangerous.
Also, ensuring your tyres are at the correct pressure will maximise their lifespan, as under or over-inflated tyres wear more quickly.
6. Avoid overloading your car
The heavier your car, the more strain it’s under and the harder it has to work to speed up or slow down; handling may be affected too, while overloading can also be dangerous, reducing visibility.
If you’re struggling to fit everything in your car, one way to solve your space problems is to add a roof box. These are probably the easiest and most popular way to create more space. However, be sure to remove the box when you don’t need it, as it won’t do any favours for your fuel efficiency.
7. Pay less for fuel
Don’t pay over the odds for fuel. Petrol is generally cheaper at supermarkets and in towns and cities as opposed to rural locations.
There are also apps and websites that can help you find the cheapest places to fuel up. One is PetrolPrices.com - just enter your postcode and it will tell you the prices currently being charged at your local forecourts.
See our guide for more tips on saving money on fuel.
8. Wash your car yourself
OK, paying for a car wash is convenient. But it can also get quite pricey and means you miss out on that warm satisfaction of having cleaned away all the grime yourself.
So, why not give your car some love and care and wash it yourself. Just be sure to do it properly to avoid causing more harm than good. You can make it more fun by using a jet washer if you have one.
9. Don’t ignore warning signs
If you want your car to last as long as possible - without spending too much time at the garage - then keep an eye out for the tell-tale warning signs. These might be on the dashboard or simply changes to how your car feels when you are driving.
If you hear an unusual noise or if your car is handling oddly, don’t ignore it as it will probably end up costing more money to fix than if it’s sorted out straight away.
Take our quiz to see how much you really know about car dashboard light warning signs!
10. Prepare your car for its MOT
Unfortunately, once cars reach a certain age, an annual MOT is just a fact of life.
Many people simply drive their car to their nearest MOT centre and cross their fingers. But often, a little bit of preparation and maintenance can make a big difference before the big day and help you save
According to new research from GoCompare, each year over 2.6 million vehicles fail their MOT due to simple defects they could have detected themselves, such as faulty lightbulbs, and many car owners end up having to pay for a retest as a result.
With a bit of preparation many MOT failures – and the subsequent hassle and extra expense – can be prevented.
It’s just one of the many small savings you can make to ensure you aren’t paying over the odds for your run-around.
Go to Solved to read more about driving, the rules of the road and road safety.