13 ways to cut your driving costs
For most people, driving is essential.
Whether you’re driving to work, dropping the kids off at school or just nipping to the local supermarket, the cost of driving can sometimes be underestimated.
From dodging unfair parking charges to making the most of your UK car insurance, we’ve come up with a whole range of money-saving driving tips for all of your motoring needs.
1. How to save money on a new car
Before considering any additional costs, you need to get your hands on a car.
There are a number of steps you can take to save money on your new motor, whether you’re buying it privately or leasing it.
When buying privately:
Know the market – Do plenty of research on the car you want and how much they are selling for on websites such as AutoTrader and Gumtree. You may get lucky and get a low price because the owner wants a quick sale, but if it seems too good to be true, be extra cautious and double check the car’s condition before committing to it!
Quiz your vendor – More often than not, you will be buying privately from a complete stranger who has no experience in car sales whatsoever. Don’t be scared to ask for ID to show that they’re the rightful owner of the vehicle and make sure that the vendor’s home address matches that on the V5 logbook – if not, query it with them!
Haggle – Many private sellers will be looking to get rid of their car as they have – or are planning to purchase – a new one. For this reason, they could be eager to get rid of the car so might be willing to knock some money off the price.
TIP: Cash payments can help you to persuade the vendor to give you a better deal, however, it is not always safe to carry large amounts with you. Pay using a bank transfer if you can, but if not, visit the vendor without your cash when first viewing the vehicle – particularly if it isn’t at their home address.
When leasing a vehicle or getting it on finance:
Don’t part-exchange – The convenience of part-exchanging your car with a dealer might seem appealing, but you can often get a lot more money when you sell your car privately! Remember, these dealers will be trying to make a profit from your old vehicle, so won’t want to pay much for it.
Don’t be conned into buying extras – Your dealer will most likely try to add extras such as Bluetooth, cruise control or alloy wheels to your car, all of which will add to the price of your new car. As a rule of thumb, if you didn’t want it in the first place, then you probably don’t need it!
How do I get the best finance deal? – When buying a car on finance, shop around for dealers offering the lowest APR – this dictates the interest you pay and can lower your monthly costs. Make sure that you know what you’re paying as some dealers will disguise expensive deals by quoting weekly payments.
TIP: When getting a vehicle on PCP (personal contract purchase), you will sometimes be quoted an optional final payment (also known as a balloon payment), allowing you to purchase the vehicle outright at the end of your term. This can sometimes work out cheaper than the car’s actual value, so consider taking up the option to purchase – even if you sell the car on for a profit straight away.
2. How can I use less fuel when driving?
Your monthly fuel costs will depend on your vehicle, engine size and the amount of time you spend driving among many other things, but there are driving tips that will save you money on petrol in the UK:
Change your driving style – You may not like to hear this, but the way you drive could be costing you extra in fuel. Changing driving habits such as over-revving, accelerating quickly, driving in a lower-than-necessary gear and overusing your brakes can all increase your fuel usage.
Use your car’s tech – Some newer cars will tell you how many miles per gallon (mpg) you are achieving, which is a pretty good indicator of how efficient your economy driving really is. See this as a challenge and get your mpg as high as you can!
Watch your speed – Many people wonder: what is the most efficient speed to drive a car? The truth is that excessive speeding is one of the key contributing factors to high fuel consumption. There is no optimum speed to drive at, but cars are typically most efficient at around 45-50mph.
Don’t stop moving – to the funky, funky bea… no, but seriously, getting a car moving can take a lot of energy, so if you can avoid stopping your vehicle at traffic lights by approaching them slower, you could potentially get a few more miles for your money.
TIP: Do you save fuel in neutral? - You may have heard that it is more efficient to pop your car into neutral where possible, but this can be dangerous. When coasting you have no access to your accelerator to avoid any unexpected hazards and your car is much harder to handle – it simply isn’t worth the risk.
3. Get cashback on fuel
Speaking of fuel, there are plenty of cashback credit cards which you can use to get some money back on your fuel costs.
A cashback credit card works by paying a small percentage towards your transaction whenever you use it, with some offering special offers for new members allowing you to claim up to 5% cashback for up to 3 months.
You must spend a minimum of £3,000 on this card over the year (around £250/month) in order to qualify for cashback and, as with any credit card, will be charged interest if you fail to repay in full every month.
TIP: Make use of supermarket loyalty cards when filling up on fuel. Supermarkets like Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s hand out loyalty points at their own petrol stations, as well as selected garages.
4. Don’t let your licence expire
All UK driving licenses hold an expiry date – usually 10 years after you last renewed or attained it.
How to renew a driving licence that has expired: You should receive a reminder though the post if your driving licence is at risk of expiring. Failing to comply could see you fined up to £1,000 if caught.
It costs just £14 to renew online, £17 by post or £21.50 at a post office.
5. Don’t dodge your vehicle tax
The amount you pay on car tax will depend on what tax band your vehicle falls into, but however much it is, you are breaking the law by not paying it every year.
Just because you no longer require a paper tax disk, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to pay car tax. Failing to pay it could land you a £1,000 fine on top of any back payments deemed necessary.
You might even have your vehicle clamped or impounded, adding an extra £200 release fee and £21 daily charges until you pay it – expensive business, all for avoiding a payment which could be as low as £10.
How to tax a car:
You can tax your car using your debit card, credit card or via direct debit on the government’s website. To do so, you will need a vehicle reference number which can be found on:
- A recent reminder letter from the DVLA
- Your vehicle log book
- The ‘new keeper’ slip from a log book, if you have recently bought the vehicle
6. Choose your MOT centre wisely
The maximum charged for an MOT in the UK is fixed at £54.85, but it’s the cost of repairs after failing your MOT that will set you back the most.
If you feel your car has been wrongly failed in an MOT, your dealer might be trying to con you into paying extra for repairs.
Book in for an MOT at a smaller, council-run MOT centre who do not provide repairs and they will have no reason to want your car to fail. The test might cost a little more, but you’ll be in safe hands and could save yourself hundreds on unnecessary repairs.
What does MOT stand for?
A bit of trivia, here – MOT stands for the Ministry of Transport, who ensure that these yearly tests are implemented.
7. Haggle on renewal quotes
Whether your renewing your breakdown cover or your car insurance, clear a couple of hours in your diary to shop around for the best deal.
Taking time to compare breakdown cover quotes can save you a fairly large sum on your renewal, given that many firms begin their negotiations with a sky-high quote in the hope that you won’t look for a better deal.
The same can be said when renewing your car insurance, where you can sometimes get better deals by getting a renewal quote up to 3 months before you’re even due to renew! Some insurers will give you a car insurance quote which remains valid for 60 days, meaning you can go back to it if prices go up. If they go down then you can just get a new quote – you have nothing to lose!
Here at Bobatoo, we work with all the leading UK car insurance companies to help find you great cover at a great price that suits your individual needs. Get your free, bespoke quote today!
8. Consider fighting any parking tickets
Over half of those who fight unfair parking tickets come out victorious.
If you think you have been penalised for parking when…
- You could not have possibly seen a sign telling you not to park
- You’ve been misled by road markings
- You’ve broken down
- You were on your way to/way back from the parking meter
…then you might have a case.
If you plan on appealing a parking ticket then do not pay it, as this will be taken as admission of liability.
Do you have to pay parking tickets issued by private companies?
Tickets handed out by private parking firms – such as those used at supermarkets – cannot technically ‘fine’ you. The tickets received in these cases are invoices and can also be appealed in cases of misleading or absent signage.
9. Use a sat-nav
Having a sat-nav can come in handy if you get lost, but it can also save you money on your fuel.
By providing you with up-to-date traffic information, satellite navigation can get you to your destination quick, meaning that your vehicle spends less time guzzling away at pricey fuel!
Best sat-nav app
You no longer even have to invest in a sat-nav to reap the benefits of one – you can download one for free on your smartphone.
Apps like Google Maps and Here WeGo both offer the same features as a standard sat-nav, however, they will use your mobile phone data in doing so – make sure you have enough available or you could be charged.
TIP: Using your phone at the wheel is unsafe and illegal and could see you fined up to £1,000. Invest in a cradle for your smartphone or ask a passenger to use it for directions instead. And make sure you input your destination before you head off.
10. Save on insurance for young drivers
Finding cheap car insurance for first-time drivers is a thankless task, but there are a few ways that you can bump the prices down a little.
Black box insurance – Black box, telematics or ‘pay how you drive’ insurance policies will track specific metrics such as distance, acceleration, braking and time of night driven to offer you a potentially lower premium.
Youngster-specific insurers – There are some insurance providers which specialise in offering cheap car insurance for first-time drivers. These providers – such as Coverbox, iKube and DriveLikeAGirl – do not always appear on price comparison sites, so check them out individually.
Learner drivers – Getting new driver insurance on a parent’s car is the easiest way to allow a learner driver to get some experience in your car, but it comes with its risks. As well as upping costs, the policy holder risks losing their no-claims bonus in the event of an accident which could see any future car insurance quotes sky-rocket. Consider getting an individual policy for a provisional driver instead.
Get your free, bespoke quote on car insurance for young drivers from the UK’s leading car insurance companies with Bobatoo today!
11. Consider protecting your no-claims bonus
You build up your no-claims bonus by avoiding making a claim on your car insurance over several years, usually knocking two years off for every time you do make a claim.
A no-claims bonus can potentially save you hundreds on your car insurance, so losing even a couple of years off it can be costly. You can pay a little bit extra on your insurance premiums to protect your no-claims bonus, so any claims made do not impact your potential savings.
12. ‘Rent my drive’
Yes, this is a thing!
If you live in a congested part of town, near a public transport hotspot or anywhere where parking is a nightmare, then you might be able to make a few quid from letting somebody use your driveway.
In some cases, people will pay upwards of £200 to know that they can guarantee a parking space every morning – if you have a parking space going spare, you might as well make some cash from it!
If you think you might be able to make a quick buck from renting out your driveway, use ParkLet’s price guide to get a rough idea of how much you could earn.
13. Save money on car maintenance
We all like to think that we know what we’re doing when we lift up the bonnet – the reality is that most of us don’t have a clue!
By learning how to perform basic repairs to your vehicle, you’ll also be learning how to save money on car maintenance, as you won’t have to pay for somebody else to fix your car for you.
Keeping on top of basic car maintenance can also help to spot or prevent any potential major issues to your car, saving you even more cash in the long-run.
Check with your local college to see if they run any part-time car maintenance courses, or scour the internet for a solution to your mechanical meltdown.