MARTIN LEWIS: How to save motoring money
10:03am Monday 17th October 2011 in Martin Lewis
IT’S hard for drivers not to feel under siege. With huge hikes in petrol and insurance, the average cost of running a (new) car has zoomed ahead to £5,500 a year according to the AA.
So it’s time to put your foot down and not take it anymore.
Many people can slash thousands of the annual cost of motoring. Here are my top 10 ways to screech costs to a halt:
1. DON’T assume third-party insurance is cheapest
While it’s the lowest level of cover, counter logically, third-party isn’t always cheapest.
This result occurs as the mere act of choosing comprehensive cover (which covers damage you cause to your own car) can make some insurers assess you as a lower risk.
While there are no hard and fast rules, if you were planning on third-party, also try comprehensive quotes too, just in case. For more help slashing car insurance costs, go to moneysavingexpert.com/carinsurance
2. Haggle down breakdown
If your breakdown cover renewal quote is too costly, ask them if they can cut it or you’ll consider leaving.
The success rates from haggling this way are huge; a poll on my site found 73 per cent of AA hagglers succeed and 59 per cent of RAC.
Alternatively, if you time it right you can sign up via cashback websites like Topcashback.co.uk or Quidco.com and sometimes get cashback, often bringing prices down below £10/year for basic cover.
3. Hidden council MOT centres prevent fails
The annual car check-up once your vehicle’s three years old can come at a hefty price. For most, the problem’s the cost of repairs, not the test.
Some mechanics can be overzealous at faultspotting, as it gains them lucrative business.
Council-run MOT centres are set up to do the authority’s vehicles (eg, buses), but must also open to the public. As they don’t offer repairs, they’ve no vested interest in failing you.
I’ve had countless feedback on how well this works, such as “my garage said repairs would cost almost £1,000 – the council test centre passed it without any work needed.”
For a full list of council MOT centres, see moneysavingex pert.com/mots
4. Your car doesn’t need to drink premium fuel
Many forecourts sell high performance fuels, yet unless you’ve a sports car, there’s little difference – don’t waste your cash.
5. Get £100s back on petrol and diesel spend
The Santander.co.uk 123 credit card pays three per cent cashback on fuel spends up to £300 per month, plus two per cent back at department stores and one per cent in supermarkets.
Yet you’ll need to pass a credit check and ONLY do this if you set up a direct debit to repay in full each month to avoid any interest, or you’ll be hit by 18.9 per cent representative APR.
Done right many will gain large, though there’s a £24 annual fee, so it only adds up for regular drivers who do all their spending on the card.
A family filling up for £60 a week and £150 supermarket shop would be £150 a year up, incorporating the fee – just for using different plastic.
6. Make cash from your driveway
If you live in a city, near an airport or footie stadium (anywhere where parking’s pricey), your driveway may be paved with gold.
Renting out a parking space can make you up to £200 a month; check out sites like parkatmyhou se.com and parklet.co.uk
7. 57 per cent who fight unfair council parking tickets win
If you get an official penalty charge notice from a council, and you think it’s unfair, whether due to unclear signage, or just you didn’t do it, don’t despair! Most people who fight it all the way win.
If you parked on private land (such as a supermarket car park), tickets may look official and use similar initials, but they are NOT fines, they’re just invoices. If you think they’re unfair, don’t pay up.
Gather evidence, eg, mobile photos of the scene, unclear signs and murky road markings, then write back disputing it.
Find full info on how to fight unfair tickets of any kind at moneysavingexpert.com/ parking
8. 1.7 million PHOTO driving licences out of date - avoid £1,000 fines
Photocard driving licences started in 1998; the photo needs renewing every 10 years. Those driving on expired cards risk a £1,000 fine – the update costs £20. Urgently check the end date (section 4b) and if expired, sort it.
9. Check your light bulbs pre- MOT - not as obvious as it sounds
Thirty five per cent of MOTs fail first time. The most frequent reasons are things that are frankly obvious – over 20 per cent of tests fail due to bust light bulbs, then there are also easily checked suspension problems, handbrake tension, worn tyres and windscreen damage.
So do a quick walk around and play with your car first and, where possible, fix before the test.
10. Less pedal to the metal saves 30 per cent on fuel
This is the biggie. How you drive has huge impact on cost, and I don’t just mean ‘boy racers slow down’.
Think of the accelerator as a money pump: the harder you press, the higher your fuel spend.
This isn’t about max speed, but not revving so hard to get to it.
Accelerate gradually, stay under 3,000 revs and drive in the highest comfortable gear.
Remember that braking burns fuel – it converts the speed you’ve paid for into heat. I’m not saying never stop, but that good road positioning with lots of space in front lets you slow naturally without braking to eke out your fuel.
These are just the start. For more than 40 more ways to slash costs, including halving hire car costs in minutes, fuel discount vouchers and finding the cheapest petrol station, see moneysavingexpert.com/motoringtips
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