Counting the pennies: how sensible car use can save you money

Christmas might be a distant memory but it’s possible many are still feeling its presence with a much-depleted bank account…

With that in mind we’ve put together some top tips to help you cut back on your motoring outgoings at the start of 2013:

  • Cutting fuel expenditure has to be the number one way of reducing outgoings on your car. That means more economical driving behind the wheel, keeping tyre pressures at their optimum and removing any heavy, unnecessary objects from the car.
  • Make sure your vehicle’s tyre are properly inflated, with pressures set at the optimum setting for efficiency, too. Over £4 billion is spent on wasted fuel in Europe per year due to drivers neglecting tyre pressures.
  • You could always take a more radical approach if you’re super-determined to cut your petrol or diesel costs. Downsizing is a growing trend at the minute and swapping your vehicle for a smaller-engined car could cut fuel expenditure. Read our car downsizing guide here.
  • Going one step further still, you could leave the car at home. Walking or biking short journeys will help keep both your body and bank balance healthy.  Using a fuel calculator to calculate the cost of your journey before setting off, can help you decide whether to use your car.
  • If you only travel a limited amount of miles every year then a limited-mileage car insurance policy could lower your premiums. Capping your annual distance lowers your insurance risk, as you’re physically not out on the roads as much. Just remember, don’t go over your limit or you may break the conditions of your policy.
  • You could always sell your car altogether – especially if you live in a city where public transport is frequent and reliable. All the burdens and responsibilities of private car ownership will disappear but you can still hire a car as and when you need to. It’s simple to do – just take a look at our guide to hiring a car.
  • If you can’t envisage a life without your motor then what about one where you only use it half of the time? Lift shares with work colleagues or friends undertaking similar social events reduce congestion and pollution, but also stem the flow of car-related readies from your bank account.
  • Searching out the cheapest petrol in your local area might only make a few pounds, or even pence difference on every fill-up, but over 12 month’s motoring it could seriously add up. For help and ideas on find the cheapest petrol and diesel, have a look at our top tips.
  • It's worth considering taking out cheap breakdown cover as the cost of being recovered from the road after a breakdown costs a lot more.
  • Finally, it’s worth keeping your car in top condition. Regular servicing should stave off any mechanical maladies and make your engine run more smoothly and therefore return better fuel economy and possibly reduce the risk of a car breakdown. It’s important to regularly check oil and water levels, topping them up and performing a full fluid change at the advised intervals. You might be surprised at how much better your car runs.