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Running a car: Eight ways to help you save money on your motor

Buying a car is expensive, but it's critical you budget for the running extras too.

The average annual running cost of a car is £1,600.

That's on top of the cost of the car itself if you paid for it outright, or the monthly total if you have a car on finance.

Confused.com ran a poll to assess what their customers thought were the most unreasonable costs when running a car, and over 20% of them said the cost of fuel and insurance was the biggest rip-offs.

Aside from those two obvious choices, tax, MOT and the cost of repairs associated with it, other maintenance including tyres, headlights, etc, other motoring costs, cleaning costs, and congestion or toll road charges, were the other common selections.

We're here to help you find ways to cut your car running costs and be able to enjoy your motor without the constant stress of the financial burden that comes with it.

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Fuel

It costs £484 per year on average to fill up your car, and likely even more right now that prices have inflated to pre-pandemic rates.

There are some very simple tactics you can do yourself however to reduce the cost of fuel.

These include:

  • Removing any extra or unnecessary weight from your car.
  • Keeping your tyres inflated to their proper air pressure.
  • Only filling up your tank with as much as you need - it doesn't have to be a full tank every time.
  • Reduce the number of short journeys you take.

It's worth looking around for supermarkets that offer rewards or points for filling up at their petrol stations, as well as reviewing credit and debit card companies that offer cash back. 

Insurance

Insurance comes in as the second most over-expensive cost for running a car, but it's easy to save money on if you do your homework and shop around.

Unfortunately, unlike many other auto-renewal services like travel insurance, car insurance companies don't offer you cheaper rates based on loyalty. 

As you'd expect it's all determined on your claims history and any personal changes such as moving to a new area, adding or removing someone else to or from the insurance, and whether your car is parked overnight on your driveway or away from your house.

Like energy bills, though, you are able to compare and switch to the best deals, so it's really worth spending some time using the various comparison sites available to try and find the best deal for you.

Paying monthly can actually cost you a fair whack, so it's worth stumping up the fees upfront if possible. 

MOTs and general car maintenance

Prior to taking your car for its MOT, it's worth you conducting your own check, particularly on the lights, vehicle body, tyres, windows, mirrors, and also having the correct documentation for your car.

Keeping it clean and tidy inside and out will certainly help you too. 

If you regularly conduct these checks yourself throughout the year, you may spot problems at an early stage and be able to get them fixed yourself, saving you money along the way.

Cleaning

It's certainly easier said than done, but maintaining your car yourself rather than visiting a car wash or valet service every month will inevitably save you money.

You can buy your own valet kits and mini hoovers for low prices and it can all be done from the comfort of your own home to save you having to go out at the weekend. Perfect.

Tax

Like insurance, it's worth paying your tax for the year in full rather than spreading the costs over the 12 months. 

Although smaller, regular payments may be better for your budgeting, if you assess the bigger picture, you will end up paying more. 

Something to think about.

Parking

You can rack up significant fees when parking, particularly in major city centres or built-up areas. 

It's definitely worth considering public transport or park and ride options if you want to venture into the city.

Research your trip ahead of time to find out where the cheapest car parking spots are so you aren't driving around for hours comparing prices.

If you do opt for driving into the city, don't try and get away with parking in restricted areas or on double yellow or single red lines. If caught you'll end up paying far more in fines than you would have if you'd just paid the premium car parking fee.

Buying a car

The critical thing is to create a budget ahead of time to work out the monthly fees if you take out a finance deal, plus the extra running costs.

Use our Affordability Calculator ahead of time to work out exactly what you would ideally like to pay and tailor a deal in your favour so you can go fully equipped with the figures when buying your car.

Our Affordability Calculator allows you to enter exactly how much you'd like to pay on a car finance deal and the length you wish the term to be.

With the information you provide, our algorithm will calculate exactly what your deal could look like, plus advice on how you could save money on your interest.

Buying online can ease the pressure of going into the dealership but also limits what you can see and understand about the car before you buy.

So it's certainly worth doing plenty of research ahead of time.

Car finance

Car finance is arguably the best way to buy a car as it spreads a fixed cost over the length of time you wish to pay for it.

You can check your current finance deal using our Deal Checker, which you can access via the image below. Here we can give you an appraisal of just how good your finance deal is and how much equity you have in your car, the depreciation value of your car, and much more.

We will provide you with your own personalised dashboard where you can monitor your finance deal over time in one place.

Many people are unaware that they are able to get out of their finance deal halfway through the term and we can help show you if you are eligible when you sign up and enter your deal.

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Summary

Overall there are plenty of different ways to help you save money on your car. 

Although some of the things mentioned above may seem time-consuming, it's certainly worth trying to find the time to do them so you can spend your hard-earned money elsewhere.

The key thing regardless of whether you take any of the advice on board is to always have a monthly budget about what your expected outgoings will be and how much disposable income you will be faced with.

That way you will always be on top of what you can and can't afford and can make informed decisions about your outgoings every month.

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