Owning a road vehicle isn’t cheap. I’ve had one for just over a year (meaning we’re now a two car household!) and I was totally unaware of how much it costs to run. Driving costs can often be the reason for many people’s financial struggles, but for a lot of us, having a car is a necessity. You shouldn’t have to sell your vehicle and resort to a life of public transport as a result (in some cases, this may be even more expensive).
So, with that in mind, here are just a few ways that you can lower your running costs and keep yourself on the road.
Insurance can be one of the biggest costs as a driver. However, there are ways to bring this down. The first is to up your excess. These are the costs that you are willing to pay out of your own pocket in the event of an accident. When it comes to insurance schemes that protect against theft, having anti-theft devices in your car such as a steering wheel lock or storing your car in a garage can bring your rates down. More extreme measures to bring your insurance rates down include taking an advanced driving course, or contrastingly taking out a black box insurance scheme. I took Pass Plus immediately after my test, and some insurers still ask whether you have it more than ten years afterwards.
The amount of road tax you pay depends on the type of vehicle you have and the amount of emissions it produces. Opting for an electric vehicle allows you to go tax free. Indeed, most electric cars are pricier than fuel versions, however there are cheap alternatives and of course, second hand models. If you’re looking for a bike, it doesn’t cost much to buy a scooter which will do the job for most errands (but clearly not if you’re going to do a lot of motorway miles). Another tax-free method is to opt for a car over forty years old. These classic vehicles may result in more maintenance costs, so make sure to get one in good condition that hasn’t got too many miles on the clock.
Aside from going electric, there are many ways to cut your fuel costs. Being fuel economical is largely about how you drive (i.e. not accelerating too hard, driving in the right gear). The more revs the use up, the more fuel you’ll burn. There are other things you can do to bring down fuel usage. Less weight and well-inflated tyres will make your driving smoother and use up less fuel. You can also cut down costs by shopping around. If you’re in the US, apps such as GasBuddy are useful for showing you the price of all nearby fuel stations so that you can find the cheapest petrol or diesel rates. So far, I don’t think we have anything like this in the UK, but supermarkets are almost always cheaper than stand alone petrol stations so if you can wait it out until you do your shopping, you’ll save a few quid filling up there.
Servicing and repairs
Even if your vehicle is indestructible and seems to suffer from no obvious faults, it will need to be regularly serviced. Cutting costs in this area depends a lot on which mechanic you use. It’s not always sensible to look for cheaper rates as these mechanics may be compensating for a bad reputation (in other words, they could do more harm than good to your vehicle). Staying with a trusted mechanic can sometimes be beneficial as you may be given loyalty rates. Of course, you may also be able to save costs by doing repairs yourself if you’re savvy under a bonnet. You can also save costs on parts by buying them yourself directly from a distributor. Just be careful of buying second-hand – buying partially-worn tyres is a common way in which people try to save costs, however these tyres are likely to have to be replaced sooner, making it worthless. We’ve fallen prey to the part-worn tire and it meant changing it three times instead of one… definitely a false economy!
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