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6 easy ways to lower your driving costs

Kwik Fit | Thursday 7th December 2017 2:37pm

Checking coolant levels under car bonnet

Between insurance payments, refuelling and repairs, running a car can be costly. If youíre  savvy though, there are things you can do to lower your expenses. Keep reading for six suggestions that should help you to drive down your bills.

1. Look after your car

One top tip is to make sure you look after your car properly. Regular servicing will ensure any issues are picked up quickly, meaning they are cheaper and easier to fix. In contrast, while skipping services and ignoring small problems with your vehicle might save you money in the short term, it will mean you store up trouble - and much bigger expenses - for the future. 

Make sure you check your oil and coolant levels on a regular basis. Identifying and fixing any leaks will help you to protect your carís engine. Pay attention to tyre pressure too. By maintaining the correct pressure, you can improve fuel efficiency by around two per cent, reduce wear on your tyres and help ensure your car is safe to drive. 

Itís also well worth doing pre-MOT checks on your vehicle to avoid common fails. Whether you can do the fixes yourself or you need to enlist the help of a professional, sorting these issues out before your MOT tends to be cheaper.

2. Drive more efficiently

You can significantly reduce wear and tear on your car by driving more efficiently. For example, try to avoid harsh braking that wears out your brake pads, and take care not to corner too hard as this will cause unnecessary damage over time to your steering parts and suspension. Also, bear in mind that accelerating very quickly can damage the clutch over time, while high revs wear out oil and engine parts. 

Driving more slowly can save you money too. Did you know that driving at 80mph can use up to 25 per cent more fuel than travelling at 70mph, which in turn can use up to nine per cent more fuel than driving at 60mph? 

Think about the way you use air conditioning as well. Itís generally recommended to switch this off when youíre driving at lower speeds and open your windows instead. Itís only when youíre driving fast that it becomes more fuel efficient to close your windows and rely on air conditioning.

3. Don't overload

Clutter has a tendency to build up in cars, but if youíve got into the habit of leaving unnecessary items in your vehicle, you could be costing yourself money. The heavier cars are, the more fuel they burn when they are on the roads. So, if you want to minimise your spending, itís worth making the effort to keep your car clutter free. This means clearing any junk from the boot, back seats and parcel shelf. Also, if you have a roof rack, remember to take this off when youíre not using it. These accessories increase drag, meaning that the engine has to work harder. 

Try not to overfill your car with fuel as this will increase its weight and mean it takes more energy to accelerate. Filling up with smaller amounts on a more frequent basis will improve efficiency.

4. Choose your routes carefully

If you donít plan your routes carefully, you can end up covering more miles than you need to, which is bad news for your budget (not to mention the environment). So, before a journey to a new destination, itís a good idea to think carefully about the best way to get there, taking into account how heavy the traffic is likely to be on the roads when youíre travelling. With a little extra planning, you might be able to cut your journey times and save yourself cash. Even if youíre only making small reductions, these can build up over months and years.

5. Think about where and how you refuel

If youíre the sort of person who only thinks about filling up when your low fuel warning light comes on, the chances are youíre shelling out more than you need to. Fuel costs can vary markedly between different petrol stations, and so unless youíre careful, you can end up paying a premium to keep your car on the roads. Itís worth doing some research online to find out which fuel stations are offering the best deals in your area. 

You might also benefit from using cash-back credit cards to purchase your fuel, and look out for the special offers sometimes advertised by supermarkets. 

Pay attention to the type of fuel you use too. While many petrol stations sell high performance fuels, these products generally offer little or no benefit for the majority of standard vehicles. So, unless you have a sports car, itís probably wise to stick to less costly standard fuels.

6. Be savvy with your insurance

Make sure youíre shrewd when it comes to your insurance. For example, donít assume that just because they offer the lowest level of cover, third-party policies are always the cheapest. Although it seems counter-intuitive, in some cases comprehensive cover is less costly. Also, itís worth noting that if you do take out third-party cover and your vehicle is damaged, you may not be able to recoup the cost. The key when it comes to choosing insurance is to investigate a wide range of policy options and to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each. A good way to scour the market is to use comparison websites. 

There are other ways to save money too. For instance, if youíre considered to be a high-risk driver, think about adding a second, lower-risk person to your policy. Even if they donít use your car often, this may bring your premiums down. You might also want to consider specialist Ďpay how you driveí policies that mean a tracking device is fitted to your car to monitor your driving habits. If youíre a careful motorist, this can be an effective way to cut your spending.

Driving will always cost money, but by paying attention to suggestions like these, you should be able to keep your costs to a minimum.

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