How to drive down your car running expenditure

By Martin Lewis, April 5, 2013
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The cost of running a new car is nearly £4,000 a year – and older cars are not too far behind. Most bills are drip-fed so it is easy to pay without realising that for most homes, a car is the second biggest cost after a mortgage or rent.

Here are five tips on how to save money on your motor:

PRIVATE PARKING FIRMS CANNOT FINE YOU

Tickets from supermarkets or private car parks may look like fines but they are just invoices — a claim that you broke a contract with the landowner. Like any invoice, if it is genuinely unfair, simply explain why and tell them you will not be paying. The only way they can enforce it is by going to court. If that does happen (often it does not), then a judge can decide. With official council tickets you can be fined, but even then you have a right to appeal.

GET 3% CASHBACK AT PETROL STATIONS

The Santander 123 credit card pays 3% back on petrol spending (to a maximum £9 monthly), 2% in department stores and 1% in supermarkets. It has a £2 monthly fee, but that is easily covered for heavy drivers. But only do it if you can set up a direct debit to repay it in full each month, or the 18.9% rep APR on purchases will swallow the gain.

DITCH THE CAR FOR A CLUB?

l If you live in a city and don’t drive often, car clubs such as Zipcar.co.uk and CityCarClub.co.uk can beat owning a car or taking taxis. You pay to join and only use it when required.

But watch out for extras as time spent in traffic may incur a late fee, plus there are fines for extra mileage.

20-YEAR-OLD SAVED £1,050 BY ADDING EXTRA DRIVERS

Young drivers can pay astronomical rates. Adding a safe second driver can slash your risk and therefore price. As one 20-year-old tweeted me: “£1,600+ on my own, £550 with two named drivers.” If that is still too costly, you can get in-car “black box” tracking from the likes of coverbox.co.uk and co-operativeinsurance.co.uk— you either pay per mile or based on how and when you drive.

NEVER AUTOMATICALLY OPT FOR THIRD PARTY

Most people seeking cheap car insurance choose third party but comprehensive can be cheaper. Opting for the latter could show insurers that you present a lower risk. There’s no rule, so do check both.

    Last updated: 10:45am, April 5 2013