Five surefire ways to run your car more cheaply
Need to save cash? Of course. Let motors.co.uk guide you to dead-cert spending cutsSaving money is good. And, because you’re reading this, I’m reckoning that it’s a subject dear to your heart, writes Ray Castle of motors.co.uk.
So, get a cuppa, get comfy and read on. Because I promise that, if you act on what I’m about to share with you you, you’ll be richer. Here’s the motors.co.uk surefire guide to saving money:
1: shop for the cheapest insurance quote
For many of us, buying insurance is the biggest single bill we pay on our cars. Yet, according to the AA, fully a third of us just renew with our current insurer, never pausing to seek quotes from even one rival. That makes no sense, because no two insurers are like and prices can come in hundreds of pounds apart. Use motors.co.uk’s own quote provider service to see what dozens of companies offer, but also try price comparison sites while not forgetting that major insurers such as Direct Line and Aviva stand apart and only quote direct to drivers.
What’s more, several big companies, Saga and first direct to name but two, promise to beat prices given like-for-like by any rival – by 10% in first direct’s case.
When applying, make sure you have enough cover. It’s no good agreeing to a £500 excess if you’ll struggle to afford that when you come to claim. But don’t pay for cover you don’t need. There’s no need to fund cover for driving 10,000 miles a year if your annual mileage won’t go above 4000, nor should you fork out extra for a legal advice helper if, say, your employer provides this as part of your staff package.
2: Barter down the cost of servicing and repairs
Garages may offer fixed-price or menu-priced servicing but what they actually charge is negotiable. So the watchword is to shop around and compare prices. Remember, though, to compare like for like. If you need a loan car, or you’d your car collected from your home, some franchised dealers offer such services within the price. Independent garages may charge less but want you to drop off and collect your car from their forecourt. And, if you want a car meantime, you’ll need to sort it out yourself. Big dealers in cities have higher business overheads than those in the country and their prices reflect that so, if you’ve a choice, take it.
If your car is new enough to be still under its makers’ warranty you’ll be inclined to get work done at a franchised dealer. It’s simpler that way and the stamp they’ll put on the service record will make it easier to sell the car whenever you need to. But if yours charges too much, ask them to price-match against the competition. If their workshop diary has gaps, we’d expect them to agree because discounted work is better than none.
When asking for a price cut, ask politely and with a smile in your voice. A drop of charm’ll work wonders.
3: Don’t use your car as a cupboard
Easy isn’t it, to keep a bootful of stuff ‘just in case’? Spare shs, gym kit, that old stereo player you’ve been meaning to take to the tip. It mounts up and the extra weight can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10%. That’s £114 extra if you drive 10,000 miles a year in a car that would otherwise average 40mpg. Clear out your clutter and then take everything with you after every journey.
4: Keep ‘em pumped and topped up
Your tyres, oil, engine coolant and screen wash, that is. Tyres need a pressure-check monthly, engine fluids weekly and before every long journey. For tyres, set them at the manufacturer’s recommended figures – these’ll be in the car’s handbook or else marked on the car – often on the inside of the fuel flap. For best accuracy, check them when they are cold and use a foot pump with a gauge. Don’t rely on the kit at your local petrol station because most are inaccurate. Look, too, at the treads, watching for cuts, bulges or signs of uneven wear. Too much air or too little can make the tyres skid, or overheat and burst. Under-inflated tyres will hit the car’s fuel economy.
Check oil, coolant and screenwash levels. It’s not unusual for a car to use up to a litre of oil per 1000 miles driven. But if it’s using more than that, there’s a leak. Check the level only when the car’s parked somewhere flat, otherwise you’ll get a false reading. If you need to top up, do it gradually and never overfill the engine. Coolant shouldn’t drop more than a tiny amount.
5: Drive smart
Go easy on the throttle and change up early. Look ahead and plan your driving rather than rush to the next hold-up, then slam on the brakes. If the lights turn red, try to adjust your speed so that they’ll turn green again by the time you reach them. Stay off the brakes whenever you can.
Keep your speed on the motorway to 60-70mph. Drive above 80mph and fuel consumption in most cars doubles.
If your car has an in-dash fuel economy monitor, switch it on. Then challenge yourself to see how good you can get the figures. If you can improve by 3mpg, you’ll save an easy £100 over 10,000 miles.
For more great money-saving tips – and to view and buy over 150,000 new and used cars, go to motors.co.uk now