Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert: Five ways to drive down the cost of motoring
Petrol prices are up, car insurance prices are up, breakdown costs are up - but don't let it get you down. There are many ways to slash the cost of motoring.
The drastic action is to do what I’ve done, and get rid of your car altogether. Though to be fair, for me that’s because I try and walk everywhere as I’m addicted to hitting my 20,000 steps a day target.
So let me show you five easy ways to put the brakes on your vehicular costs.
1. Don’t overpay on breakdown cover
Roadside recovery policies are especially important right now at the coldest point of year. Back-up in case your car fails is important, especially if you rely on it for work or the kids.
Most people stick with the big names, but if you’re willing to shift away from them you can make large savings. A year of cover at www.autoaidbreakdown.co.uk costs £48 - not much more than the basic policies with the big firms - and it includes home start and onward travel and includes cover for you and your spouse (including civil partners) at no extra cost. Call-out times are said to be roughly similar too.
If you are with the big firms, and want to stay that way, then the golden rule when it comes to renewal is to haggle. The success rates of those who try are incredible, in my most recent poll on it 87% of www.rac.co.uk and 90% of www.theaa.com customers who tried succeed.
2. Find the cheapest fuel
To find the cheapest petrol and diesel near you in seconds, use the nifty tool on www.petrolprices.com.
Create a free account, enter your postcode and select how far you’re willing to travel to a forecourt (5, 10 or 25 miles) - the difference between best and worst can be huge.
It’s also worth checking whether supermarkets are giving out discounts if you spend over a certain amount.
3. Drive efficiently and save
How you drive is the biggest single factor affecting your fuel costs, and in extreme cases people find they can save 30% when they change their driving habits.
• Accelerate gradually without over-revving (think of the accelerator as a money pump).
• Change up a gear earlier than feels natural, this keeps the revs and the cost down.
• Think about your road position, so you can keep moving rather than stopping and starting.
• Slow naturally where safe instead of hitting the brakes (braking late is just burning money you’ve spent to make your car accelerate)
• Listen to your car – if you hear sharp acceleration and screeching brakes, you’re doing it wrong
4. Free Halfords winter car check
Halfords.com is offering a free ‘£15’ winter car check, which includes checks to your battery, bulbs, wiper blades, oil and screen wash levels.
There’s no need to book in advance, though you can do so online if you want, and the check should take about 15 minutes.
The winter car check is on until spring.
5. Two or more cars at home? Check multi-car
My rough rule of thumb is if you’ve got a multi-car policy, check standalone insurers first. If you’ve got standalone, check multi-car first.
Many don’t think to look at multi-car is because renewal dates aren’t close.
However, three multi-car insurers - www.admiral.com, www.lv.com and Aviva - let you set up a policy at your first car’s renewal, while the other car(s) stay with their existing insurer until their renewal.
They give you an ‘annual equivalent price’, as if all the vehicles were insured for a full year, to help you compare to standalone policies.