July 24, 2020 at 11:02 AM
The cost of motoring is ever increasing. Fuel prices remain high, insurance costs are going up, vehicle tax for many cars is up and with more and more restrictions being placed on cars and vans in cities, it's wise to know more than a few ways to save some money. Below, we've picked some simple tips you can use day to day to make sure you aren't hit with any additional motoring costs.
Know Where to Park
Parking fees continue to rise and with towns and cities trying to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles using fossil fuels, this is likely to be a trend that will only intensify.
In London for example, there is the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) which specifically targets cars that do not meet environmental standards. In the ULEZ, diesel vehicles registered before 2015 that do not meet Euro 6 standards, petrol vehicles registered before 2006 that do not meet Euro 4 Standards and motorbikes and mopeds that were registered before 2007 that do not meet Euro 3 standards will all be subject to a £12.50 per day charge for every day they enter the ULEZ.
This area is set to expand to Greater London in 2021 and other cities are following suit, with low emission zones in force in cities already, including Glasgow, Leeds and York. Many more cities have plans and proposals to introduce their own so knowing where to park could save you £100’s.
Avoiding congestion charges and inner city parking fees doesn’t have to be that difficult, if you are prepared to travel a little more than usual once parked. Park and ride schemes offer free parking and cheap travel into city centres and most large towns and cities have ample parking on their outskirts to encourage keeping cars outside the main areas of traffic.
If you are in a van, it's less likely though that you will want to travel a long way from it, especially if you are working.
There are several apps and websites that can guide you to the cheapest parking in your area, such as https://www.justpark.com/ which can even help you rent peoples driveways, and https://www.parkonmydrive.com/ which searches big chain parking facilities all the way down to finding a drive you can pay a considerably lower amount to park on. These are ideal for anyone who is able to walk 5-10 minutes and of course, could save you a parking ticket and £60 in most towns/cities.
Fill Up For Less
Fuel prices can vary quite a lot in towns and by as much as 15p per litre if you use out of town service stations, particularly those off the Motorway. On a typical fuel tank, that could mean paying £7.50 more per tank, based on a 50 litre average size. Would you pay that amount extra for any other service or product?!
So, choosing where to fill up (and planning ahead so you don’t find yourself having to use the nearest station) is one of the easiest ways to reduce your cost of car travel.
There are a lot of websites and apps that can help you find the cheapest petrol and diesel prices around the UK. https://www.petrolprices.com/ Started off as a fuel price comparison website and now has an app that can price compare across over 98% of the country – and best of all, it’s free!
It’s also worth considering if you need a full tank and it’s always advisable to keep your car clean. Estimates suggest that for every extra 100lbs of weight in a car, the fuel consumption rises by 1-3% an this is much worse for smaller engine cars.
Don't Skip That Service
OK, so this might seem like an odd way to save money but regular servicing is actually likely to save you in the long run. Oil changes are of coure essential maintenance as your engine needs lubricant to ensure peak performance which in turn has a direct impact on your fuel economy. Allowing oil to age and thicken could even lead to engine failure which is a cost no one wants.
As well as this, regular inspection of the working parts of your car could let your garage solve small problems before they become big ones. And, if something is about to break or needs urgent replacement, it's cheaper to have this done when it suits you, at a garage, instead of on the side of the road.
Carpooling is a fantastic way to save money on travel, particularly commuting. Many of us drive to work “enjoying” the exact same drive as our colleagues. You might even enjoy waving at one another on the motorway from time to time.
If you think about it, that’s a good way to spend twice as much as you need to. Speak to colleagues or advertise your carpool plans around your business and you could group together to share the driving and fuel costs, or you could simply split the costs with someone who drives into work each day anyway. So long as you get along, this will save money, reduce your impact on the environment and you never know, that extra time networking before and after work may just pay off.
Don’t just confine yourself to colleagues though if you can’t get a carpool set up, consider expanding your carpool to an area or town. Websites like https://www.blablacar.co.uk/ride-sharing/ and https://liftshare.com/uk are great for finding like minded travellers.
Know The Law
This might seem obvious but by keeping up to date with laws, road changes and restrictions could save you a lot of money. For example, smart motorways have been in place in the UK, since 2006 but many drivers who don’t do a lot of motorway driving could be caught out. Knowing when lanes are open and closed could avoid a £100 fine, for example.
Using your mobile phone, speeding, driving to close to vehicles and bicycles are just some of the more simple things that could land you a hefty fine. Knowing the rules of the road, driving responsibly and paying attention to all road sings should mean you avoid these potential costs.
Although the tips above are sure ways to reduce incidental costs, your car is a big part of your costs. This will dictate your road tax, your insurance, your fuel consumption and your servicing and maintenance costs.
Aside from the cost of the car itself, there are a few areas to look at if you want low cost motoring. Consider the fuel your new car will use and whether or not you need diesel in particular if you are considering it. Diesel cars are now subject to parking surcharges, higher road tax and high vehicle excise duty as part of the UK’s drive to eventually ban the sale of cars using fossil fuels by 2035.
Diesel continues to be a solid option for high mileage drivers due to its efficiency and high torque and power, so while there are some off-putting elements to diesel, weigh these up against your needs.
Petrol on the other hand, is better suited to drivers covering low miles, in smaller cars and for anyone driving in town and in cities more often than on the open road.
The other potential benefit from a smaller petrol engine is lower insurance premiums. The 10 cheapest cars to insure in 2020, according to conufused.com, are all small hatchbacks with small petrol engines.
Of course, hybrid and electric cars are becoming more popular, more affordable and easier to find, with fantastic options now available from the Ford Electric and Nissan Electric ranges offering hybrid and electric power across more and more models.