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Simple tricks to cut the cost of owning and running your car

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Written by: Simon Benson
17/10/2017
Buying a car is an exciting process it’s not just the initial cost you need to consider; owning and running a car can be expensive. Here are a few simple, low-effort tricks anyone can use to help save money.

Many motorists know that driving smoothly can save on fuel costs, but there are other, lesser-known ways of running your car more efficiently that could boost your bank balance.

Choice of car

You need to choose the right car for your budget – it’s no use buying a gas-guzzling SUV if you can’t afford to drive it anywhere. As well as a more fuel-efficient car you can choose one with lower insurance and tax costs (VED) or a model that holds its value. Auto Express lists the Ferrari 458 as the car that best holds its value, but if this is out of your budget, consider an Audi A1. When shopping, keep in mind your monthly mileage and budget for running costs and search for cars that fit within this – whether it’s by insurance group, fuel economy or tax band. It may be that you can compromise on some of your other search criteria, such as colour or add-ons.

Keep your tyres inflated

Checking your tyres regularly and keeping them inflated to the correct pressure could save you up to £40-£50 a year in fuel costs and you will save on extended tyre life, too. If tyre pressure is lower than the recommended level the rolling resistance will be greater, which will in turn increase your car’s fuel consumption by up to 3%. Similarly, softer tyres deform as they turn which can lead to overheating and potential blowouts.

Remove heavy equipment

Removing heavy items can make a huge difference in reducing the drag on the car which will save you money on fuel, so avoid using your car to store anything that isn’t necessary. Likewise roof racks and bike racks will increase fuel consumption through greater aerodynamic drag.

Turn off air conditioning

Using air conditioning means using extra fuel. When travelling at a slower speed it is best to wind the windows down instead, however when you are travelling faster it is more economical to use the aircon and keep the windows closed. That might seem strange but , like a roof rack, open windows increase drag significantly.

Don’t over-rev

To use the least amount of fuel, it’s best to avoid over-revving the engine. Try changing up at around 2000 rpm if you’re driving a diesel or around 2500 in a petrol.

Trip chaining

Look at your route before you start your journey and make sure you combine trips where possible. It is obvious that a shorter journey in the car will save you money on fuel but your car also uses more fuel when it’s cold – so it is best to make all your trips in one outing.

Carry out regular maintenance checks

You can reduce the chances of an unexpected problem while on the road by checking your car frequently. Check your oil level, coolant level, tyre condition and tread depth regularly as this will minimise small but costly mechanical issues and the amount you’ll need to spend on repairs.

Find the cheapest fuel

The biggest running cost for your car is of course the fuel, and prices do vary so you can save a few pence on a tank-full by shopping around locally. Don’t drive too far in search of cheaper fuel though as you’ll probably use more than you save getting there – instead, use a fuel price app to find the cheapest fuel nearby and navigate to the petrol station. A fuel search tool could save you as much as £50 a year on filling up.

Keep it clean

Keeping your car in a good condition – washing and waxing it occasionally and dealing with any minor damage promptly – could mean you’ll get more for it when the time comes to sell it on.

Simon Benson is director of motoring services at AA Cars

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