Running a car can feel like a real drain on your finances, and when you’re on a smaller budget there’s plenty to consider when it comes to your automotive expenditures.
But while there are some things you never want to skimp on, owning a car doesn’t have to cost the absolute earth. With a little perseverance, there are a few ways you can seriously save money on your car…
Stop visiting that local garage
We all know that petrol prices vary from station to station. We all know that, as with just about anything, if you want a good deal you’ve got to shop around. Still, that doesn’t stop most of us from slipping onto the forecourt of a more expensive petrol station to fill up, just because it’s local and therefore convenient.
Sure, you might’ve paid extra for the convenience of getting home five minutes earlier, but those extra pennies soon add up over the course of a few months. Really, we should all be treating our petrol stations the way we choose our car insurance: Don’t just opt for the first one to come along simply because it’s there.
A little research (or, in this case, a little drive), could save you a lot of money, and there are even sites online that will reveal the best petrol prices in your area.And while you’re at it, don’t bother buying that ‘premium’ fuel – if you’re driving a standard car, regular fuel will do the same job for cheaper.
Close your windows and take off your roof-rack
If you’re making a long-haul journey on the motorway, you can save some real money with this one life hack: Wind up your windows and remove the roof-rack.
When you’re moving at speed, the shape of your car impacts its performance and how much it costs to actually run. Essentially, if your car’s not aerodynamic it’s going to create drag, which means it uses a lot more fuel as it fights against the air current. Windows down and roof-rack on is just about the opposite of sleek.
That doesn’t mean you should always keep those windows up. Experts reckon that if you’re travelling at speeds up to 45mph, it’s far more fuel-efficient to lower your windows and switch off the air conditioning.
Buy your car parts from an authorised dealer
No two ways about it, if you’re buying genuine car parts directly from your car manufacturer, you’re going to be paying through the nose. Trouble is, you really need authentic car parts since they’re designed for your particular make and model, are much more durable, and produced to a higher safety standard than cheaper, knock-offs. But your budget’s limited so what can you do?
It all comes down to shopping around for authorised dealers. There are plenty of them out there, like this one for Honda. Finding the right online provider can help save compared to the big-name brands. If you’re going down this route, it’s always worth checking the company has good online reviews, since you’ll want guarantees that your parts and spares are genuine.
Use council-run MOT centres
It’s the moment we all dread, right? When the MOT’s due and you’re certain the ol’ rust-bucket on the drive is going to fail – and cost you hundreds in repairs. You can limit the costs right off the bat by, first, performing a DIY MOT, checking for the usual issues that arise, such as broken lights, the suspension and tyre tread and pressure.
Next, you want to decide on the right MOT centre for you. If you reckon that your car is going to need some serious sorting out, then you may want to pop along to your usual garage, where they’ll carry out both the MOT and repairs. But there is another option, especially for those who think their car’s in fair shape, or worried that their garage will try to rip them off on repairs.
Councils run their own MOT centres for their own vehicles, and they’re legally obliged to remain open to the public too. What’s great about council-run MOT centres is that, since very few offer repairs, there’s no incentive for the mechanics to exaggerate the repair work needed to bring your car into line – which could save you shelling out more than you have to.
When you’re mindful of your household budget – or even if you’re not, you can still maintain a car without burning through cash. All it takes is a little planning, some shopping around, and breaking a bad habit or two. Of course, you could just walk, but that’s no way to reach the national speed limit, is it?
Further reading: Cut down on car and travel costs @ moneyadviceservice.org.uk.