It's enough to make even Jeremy Clarkson wince. The average yearly bill for motoring is now £4,600, not including buying the car. So here's how to cut the bills…
● Fight unfair fines
If you get a parking ticket you believe is unfair, you don't have to accept it. For instance, private parking firms can't fine you. Their tickets look like tickets but are actually just invoices. So if you get an unfair one, reply explaining why and that you won't pay. It can't "hit your credit record" or "send bailiffs" without the time and expense of court action. For how to fight them and template letters see www.mse.me/parkinginvoices
Also, unfair council tickets can be appealed against. Of those whose appeal is turned down by the council at first, 50 per cent win if they keep going to the final stage. For help see www.mse.me/parkingtickets.
● Combine car insurance comparison sites
The competition authority is planning to ban comparison sites from having agreements with insurers not to do cheaper deals elsewhere. This means these sites are likely to morph from pure comparisons to marketplaces, with different sites cheaper for different insurers. For a long time I've suggested combining comparison sites to get a wider search, now it's even more important. For my list of which to combine see www.mse.me/carinsurance.
● Combine cars
Comparison sites check only one car at a time, so you miss out on multi-car insurance discounts. The big one's Admiral Multi-car, but also Churchill, Direct Line and Privilege do it.
● 'Oo repairs' MOT SITES can mean fewer fails.
It's not the cost of doing an MOT that's the big threat - it's the repairs. If your motor's like new, find the cheapest test and always get several quotes for repairs. However, if your car's older and you're unhappy with your current centre, check council-run MOT test centres. They're usually for buses or taxis, but are open to the public, too. They don't do repairs so have no interest in failing you. For a list, go to www.mse.me/councilMOTs.
● Check your licence
Photocard licences need renewing every 10 years and more than 2m are out-of-date. There's a £1,000 fine if you're caught, so check the date printed on section 4b of your card.
● Be counter-logical
Most savings can be made if you ignore common sense.
Third party's not always cheapest. Merely selecting comprehensive makes some insurers see you as a lower risk - which can cut the price. So always check both.
Adding a responsible second driver can bring down your risk average and price. Of course, it must be someone who may drive your car.
Tweaking your job description can cut costs. These days many people have such specific job descriptions car insurers don't list them. As Fabsternation tweeted: "Thanks. Changing from creative director to marketing manager saved £300."
● Cut fuel costs
It's not all about driving less or getting a fuel efficient car:
● Make your car more efficient so it uses less petrol to push it. Check tyre pressure, get rid of excess weight, take off roof racks.
● Change driving technique to save up to 30 per cent. It's less about slowing down, more about gradual acceleration, shifting up a gear sooner and using road positioning to reduce braking.
● Find the cheapest forecourt. There can easily be a 9 per cent difference in an area. Use www.petrolprices.com to compare.
● Spend on the www.santander.co.uk 123 credit card and each month it gives 3% cashback on fuel (max £9/month) plus 2% in department stores and 1% in supermarkets. Repay in full each month to avoid the 16.5% representative APR.
There is a £24/yr annual fee (though Santander 123 bank account holders get this wiped in the first year) but serious drivers should easily offset it with cashback earned.
● Argos £5 off £35 toy exchange
Take an unwanted toy to your nearest Argos or Barnado's shop by November 25 and you'll receive a £5 off £35 toys voucher to spend on items in the "toys and games" section till Christmas Eve. Argos will then donate your unwanted toy(s) to Barnardo's shops for the children's charity to sell on. For more info see www.argos.co.uk.