Drive down the cost of running a car

By Martin Lewis, July 27, 2012
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The average cost of running a new car is around £6,000 a year, according to the AA. So it is hardly surprising that the cost of driving is one of the single biggest issues affecting people’s finances today — even after the fuel duty rise has been postponed.
Here are 10 quick tips to reduce the cost of motoring.

l. Is your photocard valid?
Even though your licence may be valid, you risk a £1,000 fine if the photo is out of date. These need renewing every 10 years and 1.8 million are out of date. To find out if yours is one of them, take a look at section 4b on your licence to see the renewal date. If it has expired renew it ASAP — it will cost £20.

2. Use 2 comparison sites
If you are looking to compare car insurance, make sure you use more than one comparison site. Each comparison site looks at different firms, so combine them to make sure you get the best coverage.
My top two picks to combine are Gocompare and MoneySupermarket, then add the big insurers they miss, including Aviva and Direct Line, and Admiral if you have more than one car.

3. Unfair parking ticket?
Getting a ticket slapped on your window can be a nightmare. While we are to blame at times, sometimes they do arrive unfairly.
Fifty per cent of those who challenge council parking tickets they believe are unfair, and take them all the way to the Independent Traffic Penalty Tribunal, win.

4. Avoid young driver hideous insurance costs.
The average price for a 17-22 year old male is £3,200, but you can cut thousands with the right approach.
Firstly, try adding a second named responsible driver to lower the risk average. One of my Twitter followers — a 20 year-old male — told me he had been quoted over £1,600 on his own, but just £550 with two named drivers. Secondly, do full comparisons on the comparison sites.
Thirdly, check specialist young driver policies that use black boxes to monitor your driving. You can pay per mile with Coverbox, pay how you drive with Co-op and pay less for driving during the day with iKube.

5. Cut petrol costs by 30 per cent
The big trick to learn is how to drive as quickly, but with a technique that means you use less fuel.
The key is accelerating less aggressively, moving into a higher gear earlier, and using road positioning so you brake less and the car can slow down gradually. For some, it cuts costs by 30 per cent.
You can also make your car more efficient by checking that your tyre pressure is correct — taking off unused roof racks and so on should help. Find the cheapest forecourt with www.petrolprices.com and use the top credit cards offering cashback (fully repaid so there is no interest) to get three per cent back on all fuel spending.
Combine these techniques and many regular drivers could save £500+ a year. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/petrol.

6. Get basic AA breakdown cover for under £10/year — or try haggling
If you are happy with the cover you have got, but not the renewal price, then get on the phone and tell them. Some 73 per cent of AA customers who haggle, succeed, as well as 59 per cent for RAC.
Alternatively, if you are getting basic new cover, the RAC or AA often pay big cashback if you go via cashback sites like www.topcashback.co.uk or www.quidco.co.uk, meaning that after the money back, the year’s policy can often cost under £10.

7. Book holiday car hire EARLY to get it for £10 a day
Use www.carrentals.co.uk and www.kayak.co.uk comparisons to find the best deals — £10 a day is sometimes possible.
When you pick-up, hire firms will try to flog “excess insurance”, but it is possible to do it for less than half the cost via comparison site www.moneymaxim.co.uk.

8. Don't assume 3rd party insurance is cheapest
Bizarrely, the lowest level of cover is not always cheapest. Sometimes, comprehensive wins, as choosing it means you are considered a lower risk and the discount for this sometimes outweighs the discount for getting lesser cover. So if you were going for 3rd party, get a comprehensive quote as well.

9. Hidden council MOT centres can slash costs
These are designed for the councils’ own vehicles such as buses, but by law, they must be open to the public. As they generally don’t do repairs, they have less vested interest in failing people, so anecdotally people get fewer fails.
One example: “My 4x4 failed with a £1,200 bill at the local garage. My council-run MOT centre passed it.”
Of course, if you are happy with your local firm, stick with it, but if not, this is a useful option. A full list of them is available at www.moneysavingexpert.com/mots.

10. Private parking companies CAN’T fine you
It may be dressed up to look like a parking fine, but if you get a ticket at a supermarket, housing estate, etc, rather than from a council or police, it is not a fine, it is an invoice.
So if you think it’s unfair, don’t “appeal” against it as you are accepting its jurisdiction. Instead, as with any invoice you think is unfair, tell them, explaining why and don’t pay it.
The only way they can force you to pay is to take you to court, where a judge decides and often that is not worth it.

    Last updated: 8:31am, July 27 2012