UK motorists spend an average of £3,500 a year on car running costs. (Source: survey by webuyanycar.com, November 2013). This includes fuel, tax, MOTs, servicing and car insurance, as well as maintenance costs such as parts and repairs.
Considering this, your car is likely to be one of your most expensive assets. However, there are ways that you can keep these costs down while ensuring that your car is kept in the best condition.
Here we have put together a guide of thrifty ways you can run and take care of your car:
Shop around online
As with most things, shopping around online is the most effective way to find the best deal for your car.
Comparison websites are great for finding cheaper deals, especially if you’re looking for car insurance. But with lots of comparison websites available it’s difficult to know which is best to use. Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert site has a list of what they have found to be the cheapest comparison websites. It may also be worth trying out a few of these to see which offer the best price. In addition, this page also includes other ways to cut down the cost of your car insurance.
Online tools can also help you find the lowest fuel prices in your area. Websites including petrolprices.com (also available as an app) are constantly monitoring fuel costs across the UK, allowing you to compare prices wherever you are to get the best deal available. You can also set alerts to notify you of any changes on the best fuel prices.
Likewise, there are also sites such as partsgateway.co.uk that can provide you with comparative quotes for car parts. Alternatively, checking different places online yourself or contacting dealers by phone can help you get better deals for car parts.
Buy used or aftermarket parts
There are two types of car parts: OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and aftermarket (sourced elsewhere and not by the car manufacturer). The main difference between these two types of car parts is often just the price. Aftermarket parts are usually just as good as the original and are often considerably less expensive. Sometimes aftermarket parts can even be better than the original as any known faults with the originals are often worked to resolve in the aftermarket parts.
Another way of saving on car repairs is by sourcing refurbished parts. Amazon’s car and motorbike section is a good place to look, as well as eBay. If the work is too much for you to carry out yourself you can always ask garages to quote you separately for the parts and repairs and ask if they would do the work using the parts that you supply.
DIY car maintenance
For heavy duty car repairs, it’s best to let the professionals take care of the job, but there are other small things you can do to cut the costs for when it does need to go to a garage. There’s a great DIY car section on wonderhowto.com which includes videos and guides on how to make repairs on different car models.
Take care of easy repairs yourself
Easy car repairs including replacing your own windscreen wiper blades, changing bulbs and fuses can be taken care of yourself. These jobs can be easy to carry out yourself, as well as avoiding the unnecessary expense of taking it to a car garage.
Replace your air filter
Your air filter should be checked and replaced every 30,000 miles or so (you should be able to find out exactly when in your car manual). This will help to keep dirt out of your engine and improve fuel efficiency. You can make this fix yourself in five minutes.
Do a pre-MOT check
Another way to help save money is by checking the basics of your car a few weeks before your MOT is due. According to moneysavingexpert.com, nearly 40% of MOTs fail the first time and many are due to simple avoidable reasons. Sorting these things out before your test can help to avoid paying for unnecessary retests. The Money Saving Expert site has a DIY MOT guide which includes all the checks you can do yourself.
Drive more efficiently
The AA claims that you can save an average of 10% on your weekly fuel bills by driving more efficiently. It might take some practice but there are ways that you can change your driving so that it doesn’t waste as much fuel, therefore saving you in petrol costs. Rapid acceleration, speeding and hard braking are some of the things that can significantly lower your miles per gallon.
To help, The AA has put together a guide on eco-driving and the benefits of doing so.
Replace your vehicle for something smarter
If your car is costing you a lot in repairs then it might be time to swap it for something newer, safer and cheaper to run. This is especially the case if your car is older and less efficient.
The first place to start is to know if the repairs are costing you (or are about to cost you) more than the car is worth. Getting regular car valuations, through Auto Trader or other online providers, will give you a good idea of the value of your car. You will then be able to weigh up whether it’s in your best interest to pay the cost of repairs if anything happens, or if you’d be better off selling or part exchanging the vehicle for something that will cost you less in maintenance costs.
You should also look at future issues you might have with the vehicle. If you’ve just had a few expensive repairs, then what’s the next thing that is likely to need repairing? Chances are your car could end up costing you a lot more money in the long run.