How to Save on Car Running Costs

They may be essential to everyday life, but running a car is a costly business. Whether it’s getting your car through its annual MOT or wincing at the rising cost of petrol, cars can be a real drain on your finances. There are, of course, certain fixed expenses that you may not be able to do much about - standing charges such as road tax and MOTs. When it comes to your day-to-day car running costs, though, there are a few savings you can make here and there to leave a little more in your wallet.

Buying the right car

Saving on day-to-day car running costs starts by choosing the right car. It goes without saying that there’s big variation in how much it costs to run a car, meaning that the price you pay for the car itself is only part of the consideration in choosing which model to buy. Some cars are more fuel efficient, for example, saving you money on petrol; but these savings could be offset by parts being more expensive, making servicing more costly. New cars cost more and you’ll lose more in depreciation, but they’re likely to be more fuel efficient and less likely to need expensive repairs than older, cheaper cars.

Choosing a car that’s in a lower insurance group will help you save on car insurance costs; you can find out which group a particular car belongs to by looking online. If you’re not sure how much your car is going to cost you to run, you can find out using a handy car running costs calculator. Even if you’re not thinking of changing your car, you can also use this calculator to work out a breakdown of where you’re spending money on your current car, so you can see what’s costing most and where you can make savings.

Keep your car in great condition

For many people, car maintenance is something only thought about when it’s time for the car to have its annual service, or when something goes wrong. But if you’re serious about reducing your car running costs, taking on some basic maintenance yourself is a good first step towards saving money on the day-to-day running costs. This includes cleaning your car; why pay for a car wash when you can clean it yourself?

Keeping your car in good working order makes it less likely that you’ll suffer a breakdown and need to fork out for expensive repair bills. Not only that, but taking simple measures such as keeping your tyres inflated will help improve your fuel economy, saving you money on petrol (more on this next). Take a look at our car maintenance and repair tips for how you can keep your car in tip-top condition.

How to make savings on petrol

Whether you run a petrol or a diesel car, fuel is one of the biggest day-to-day expenses you have to cover as a car owner. Improving your fuel economy is therefore a big step towards making savings on your running costs. This is something you can do even if you don’t own a particularly fuel efficient car, as your driving style has an impact on how much fuel you burn. If you’re doing a lot of braking and accelerating, you’ll use more fuel than if you drive smoothly, for example. If your car tells you when to change gear, it’s worth doing as it says, as you’ll improve your fuel economy by driving in the highest gear possible for the speed you’re driving at.

If you routinely drive around with a roof rack on your car, you’ll be burning more fuel because your car isn’t as aerodynamic; remove it when you’re not using it to save on fuel. Tyre pressure also affects fuel burn, so keep your tyres inflated to the correct pressure indicated in your car manual. Sitting in traffic burns lots of fuel, especially if you have the air conditioning on. If it’s looking as though you won’t be moving for a while, turn the engine off and open the windows to keep cool.

You can, of course, also save money by shopping round to find the cheapest petrol in your area. Driving around trying to find the cheapest price could negate any savings you make, but planning ahead so that you don’t have to fill up at a more expensive petrol station in a remote rural area or on the motorway will help bring down the cost of refuelling. Take a look at and type in your postcode to find the cheapest petrol in your area.

Parking and toll fees

Parking costs can add up if you have to park in town or city centres a lot, so this is another area where you can potentially make savings. Try using apps such as JustPark to see if you can find somewhere cheaper to park, or have a scout round the local area to see if you can find free roadside parking where you could leave your car as long as you need to. If you’re planning a trip, you can tell your sat nav or Google Maps app to avoid toll roads if it won’t add significantly to your journey time (and therefore burn more in fuel than you save in tolls).

Saving on your car insurance

Car insurance is a standing charge rather than a day-to-day running cost, but unlike the other fixed costs associated with car ownership (road tax, for instance), you can make big savings on your car insurance. Try us for a quote.

Taken individually, the savings in each of the tips we’ve outlined here may not seem much – but follow each of them carefully and you might be surprised how much you can save on your car running costs.

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