AS WE return to something resembling a normal, pre-Covid life, our car use is likely to increase as well. Many of us have saved on petrol and other motoring costs this year, while some have even received refunds on their car insurance.
But as commuting and ‘non-essential’ trips become more commonplace, here are five ways to ensure that the cost of motoring doesn’t spiral in the coming months.
Put it on the cards
Unless you already own an electric car, buying fuel is a major part of the cost of motoring. Scott Dixon, the money and motoring expert who runs website thegrumpygit.com, says that ensuring you make the most of loyalty and credit cards will reap benefits when buying petrol, while shopping around can get you the best rate.
‘Use supermarket fuel with a loyalty card and do not buy premium fuel. Most, if not all, cars will run fine on supermarket fuel and the savings are substantial compared to branded garages like BP and Shell where prices can be up to 10p a litre more,’ he says.
‘Loyalty cards give cashback as does paying by credit card. I use M&S credit card for cashback.’
If you are not sure where the cheapest fuel is in your area, or while you are out and about, try using free website and app petrolprices.com to search for the cheapest petrol prices in any area.
It pays to shop around for car insurance
Most of us are used to bills going up each year, but unless your circumstances have changed, research suggests your car insurance bill should be cheaper now, not more expensive.
Figures from price comparison site Confused.com show that car insurance prices have dropped by seven per cent compared with three months ago, and by 14 per cent in a year.
Despite the drops, though, many of those who simply accept their current insurer’s renewal quote will pay a higher price.
Louise O’Shea, CEO of Confused, says that almost half of those who received their renewal in the past quarter saw their price increase — by an average of £45. ‘Loyalty clearly doesn’t pay,’ she says. ‘It is clear from our research that automatically renewing could in fact cost you more money. We are seeing the biggest drop in prices in almost six years.
‘But it’s important to remember that these lower prices are only benefiting those who shop around.’
Louise says that, even if your current insurer slightly decreases your annual price, it is still worth checking whether anyone will beat them. ‘There will be an insurer out there willing to offer a better price.’ She adds that Confused.com will either beat your quote or offer you £20 if they can’t.
Make safety checks that save you cash
Maintaining your vehicle makes it more fuel efficient, as well as ensuring you won’t need costly repairs. John Wilmot, CEO of car leasing comparison website LeaseLoco, suggests that because our cars have been out of action for several months, we should be careful to ensure we check them properly.
Make electric car savings
While many of us are yet to make the switch to electric cars, those who do so will be considering the cost of electricity, rather than the cost of petrol.
Many of the ways to save mentioned elsewhere still apply, such as driving as efficiently as possible and shopping around for insurance.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, you can also save money by being savvy about your charging, using slow chargepoints — which cost less — where possible. You can use the government’s EVHS scheme to pay for up to 75 per cent of the cost of installing a chargepoint at home, which is usually the cheapest way to charge.
You can find more information on this scheme at gov.uk.
Erin Baker at Auto Trader suggests switching your energy tariff if you are charging at home.
‘Make sure you’re on an energy tariff that has peak and off-peak costs. This way you can set your car to charge in the ‘off-peak’ setting — often overnight — which can cut charging costs by a quarter,’ she says.
Removing items that you don’t need from the car will also help keep your fuel costs low
‘Whether it’s a top box you haven’t removed since returning from your staycation, or a boot packed full of items you don’t need, removing unnecessary weight will make your fuel go further,’ Erin at Auto Trader says.
Scott Dixon adds that driving too fast can also effect how much fuel you burn. ‘The optimum speed for fuel economy is 55-65mph. Driving any faster will significantly impact on your fuel consumption.’
He also advises switching off the air conditioning. ‘The compressor affects the power output and acceleration on the car and reduces your fuel economy by up to ten per cent.’