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Ten ways to drive down the cost of motoring
The average cost of running a new car is up to a hefty £6,000 a year, according to the AA. So it’s hardly surprising the cost of motoring 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 drive down the cost of motoring.
1. 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Even though your licence may be valid, you risk a £1,000 fine if the photo is out of date. These need renewing every 10 years and 1.8m are out of date.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’s expired renew it ASAP, though it will cost £20 to do.
2. Don’t use a comparison site, use two
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.
At the moment 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’ve more than one car in the home. Many more ways to slash costs at www.moneysavingexpert.com/carinsurance
3. Unfair parking ticket? Challenge it
Getting a ticket slapped on your window can be a nightmare. While we’re to blame at times, sometimes they do arrive unfairly.
I remember parking at 7pm by a “no parking until 6:30pm” sign and finding a ticket when I got back – so hastily I took a picture. Turned out it was in a new “no parking till 8pm” zone but they’d forgotten to take the old sign down. My first appeal was rejected, but I persevered and they backed down.
In fact, 50% 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 hideous young driver insurance costs
The average price for a 17-22 year old male is £3,200, but you can cut £1,000s with the right approach.
To bag a-Ford-able cover (sorry): a) 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’d been quoted over £1,600 on his own, but just £550 with 2 named drivers. b) Do full comparisons on the comparison sites (see point 2). c) Then 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%
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% alone.
You can also make your car more efficient by checking your tyre pressure's correct, taking off unused roof racks and so on. Find the cheapest forecourt with www.petrolprices.com and use the top credit cards offering cashback (fully repaid so there’s no interest) to get 3% back on all fuel spending.
Combine these techniques and many regular drivers could save £500+ a year. See www.moneysavingexpert.com/petrol for full how-to.
6. Get basic AA breakdown cover for under £10/year (or haggle)
If you're happy with the cover you've got, but not the renewal price, then get on the phone and tell them. 73% of AA customers who haggle succeed, as well as 59% for RAC. So don’t be a shrinking violet - be a bloomin’ marvellous bargainer.
Alternatively, if you’re 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 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
When you pick-up, hire firms will try to flog "excess insurance", but it’s 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 isn't always cheapest. Sometimes, comprehensive wins, as choosing it means you're 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, also get a comprehensive quote as well.
9. Hidden council MOT centres can slash costs
These are designed for councils' own vehicles (eg, buses), but by law they must be open to the public. As they generally don't do repairs, they've 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’re 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's not a fine, it's an invoice.
So if you think it’s unfair, don’t “appeal” against it as you’re 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’s not worth it.