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How to Reduce Your Car Running Costs

How to Reduce Your Car Running Costs

Everything seems to be getting more expensive, and motoring expenses are no different. With the estimated cost for 2023 being over £3,000, car running costs will soon make up an even larger portion of the costs of modern life.  

Energy bills can be reduced by lowering your central heating temperature, food bills by eating out less, but car running costs seem to be immovable, fuel and road tax (VED) is set by the government for example. But there are some ways we can save money on cars, and in this blog we’ll explain how to reduce car running costs with easy and actionable tips. 

Costs can be broken down into two categories, fixed and variable. The former being yearly expenditure such as Tax, Insurance, MOT, whereas Fuel is variable, and depends on how and how much you drive. 

How to reduce fixed motoring costs

Shopping around and doing your research before purchasing a car can make a big difference to your yearly expenses. 

Reducing your Road Tax (VED)

If you already have a car, and are not thinking of, or in a position to change it, then this one is difficult. The only way to reduce your vehicle’s excise duty is to convert your car to an ‘alternative fuel’ such as LPG.  

This isn’t feasible for most people, as the conversion costs in excess of £1,500 in most cases, but if you intend to keep your car for a long time, and it’s particularly thirsty, it might be worth considering.  

If you are in receipt of PIP, you may well be eligible for a road tax reduction. So be sure to check out the .gov guide here. 

If you’re in the market for a new car though, check sites like Autotrader to find cars sorted by lowest tax band, the other advantage to this is that those types of cars usually get better MPG too.

Getting cheaper car insurance

Insurance is often the largest one off bill when running a car, the average premium hovers around the £450 a year mark, but this drastically increases if you’re under 25, have any driving convictions or are in a job deemed risky to the industry.  

Disclaimer: Do not try to mislead when taking out insurance, intentionally deceiving with regard to things such as; who drives the car, your job, the car's modifications and where you live. This is an offence and will cause many more issues down the road - including criminal charges and fines - always be honest with the insurance company. 

That said, there are a few legitimate ways to help reduce your premiums 

  • Shop around: Try a few comparison sites, as well as calling a few companies and bidding their quotes against each other 
  • Add another driver: Particularly if you’re a younger driver, adding a responsible named driver can reduce the risk and therefore the premiums 
  • Get quotes in plenty of time: For some reason, insurers offer the best prices 23 days ahead of the renewal date 
  • Try multi-car policies: if you have more than one car at your address (even if they're not due at the same time) you can sometimes save by taking out one multi-car policy 
  • Tweak your job title: profession plays a large role in assessing risk, but sometimes the job titles are a bit vague, meaning there is some scope to select the best one that still matches your description to reduce the cost - as above though, do not be deceitful. Money Saving Expert’s tool is the best for researching this. 

Servicing, Repairs and MOT

Cars are complex machines, with lots of moving parts and complex systems, because of this they need regular maintenance and sometimes repairs. Alongside your MOT cost these can contribute to a significant chunk of the overall cost of running a car. 

The MOT is an annual inspection of roadworthiness, but does not include servicing. For more information on what is included in an MOT check out our guide here. 

One way to help with car repair costs is to have your car checked over regularly. Annual service is the ideal time for this to be done. Not only can the mechanic refresh the various fluids, but they can also check for excess wear and damage, allowing you to plan your repairs in advance.  

Preventative maintenance can also reduce the likelihood of being stranded at the side of the road, and costly towing/recovery fees.  

To read more about the benefits of regular servicing, or to see what's generally included in a service, read our guide here

If you have a major service or repair coming up and you are worried about being able to cover the bill, Bumper’s zero interest repair financing could be ideal for you. It allows you to split the cost into easy-to-manage monthly instalments at 1000s of garages and dealerships nationwide.

7 Tips to reduce your fuel costs 

Fuel prices fluctuate along with the economy and global oil prices, recent increases have been attributed to some to be due to the war in Ukraine. However, the cause of the price increases aren’t the biggest issue for most, the strain on their wallet is. 

Increasing your car's efficiency may not appear to have much effect, but over a year of driving it can have a significant impact. We’ve detailed some great ways to increase your economy below: 

1. Walk or cycle more

It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to not realise how much using your car for short journeys can amount to, especially if you consider the effect taking short journeys has on your vehicle.  

Engines are designed to work best at an ‘operating temperature’ - approx 90 degrees celsius. Short journeys will not get the engine up to temp, and as a result return worse fuel economy than normal.  

2. Modify your driving style

Simply adjusting the way you drive is the easiest way to increase your fuel economy, and it can have a much bigger impact than you might think. 

One way to reduce fuel consumption is to look further ahead - Acceleration is the enemy of fuel efficiency, so any time you can avoid coming to a complete stop, will mean fuel saved. 

Prime examples are when a car in front is slowing to turn. Pre-empting the stoppage, increasing the gap to the car and slowing down gradually, allows you to retain more of your car's momentum. 

3. Remove clutter

The heavier the object, the more energy it takes to move it, this applies to cars too. It’s part of the reason SUVs get worse fuel economy than light, compact cars.  

If you’re carrying around extra weight in your vehicle, that will affect your fuel consumption. Things like extra water bottles, tools and other stuff all take effort to haul around. 

Spend half an hour giving your car a good sort out and save money! 

4. Check your pressures

Tyres play a huge role in how your car drives, affecting braking, steering and fuel economy. Think back to how much harder it is to ride a bicycle with a flat tyre, now imagine that but on a car weighing well over 1,000kg.  

Check your handbook for the optimum pressures, they depend on how much weight you’ll be carrying and need to be adjusted accordingly to ensure braking and road grip are not affected. 

5. Slow down

A significant amount of the energy required to propel your car along is used on overcoming the aerodynamic drag of the vehicle, however this is not directly proportional to the speed, the faster you go the more energy needed. 

In real terms this equates to a worse MPG figure the faster you go. For example travelling at 60mph can save up to 10% on fuel when compared to travelling at 70mph. In most cases this will barely impact your journey time at all.  

6. Turn off Air-Conditioning

Cooling down the air inside your car takes quite a bit of energy, the air conditioning system is driven directly from the engine. Naturally this will sap an amount of energy from the engine, not used for propulsion.  

It’s estimated that using your car's air conditioning can reduce the MPG by up to 10%, saving you money. If you can't do without your air conditioning, then at least make sure it is efficient as possible by getting an air con recharge.

7. Plan your journey

Differing engine types have weaknesses and strengths, for example Diesel engines are not very efficient in cities, whilst hybrids are, and vice versa.  

Google Maps route planner allows you to select your engine type, the best route will then be selected based on where your car will be most efficient.  

Eco-friendly routing is found within the app’s settings, more information can be found here.

For more information on fuel consumption, check out our in depth guide, which also helps to identify the possible causes for poor fuel consumption. 

Repairs to fit your budget

Split the cost of repairs and services into interest-free monthly repayments with Bumper. Choose from 1000s of reliable garages and dealerships nationwide. 

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