If you feel like you’re constantly looking for new ways to save on the cost of motoring, you’re not alone. With rising fuel, insurance and maintenance costs, getting from A to B by car is proving pricier than ever for many drivers in the UK.
To help, we’re offering you nine secret car tips that could save you money. These tips fall into three main categories: upkeep, insurance and fuel costs, giving you plenty of scope to make savings.
Upkeep and Maintenance
Change Your Car’s Air Filter in Just 10 Minutes
If you don’t already change your car’s air filter yourself, this is a great way to save on annual maintenance costs. Most cars need a new filter every year or after 12,000 miles, so the cost of replacing the component can add up over the life of the car. By learning how to change a car’s air filter yourself, you can keep costs down — here’s how it’s done:
- Start by popping the bonnet and finding the air filter’s casing – it’s usually in a clipped box near the centre of the engine. If you’re struggling to find it, check the owner’s manual.
- Unscrew the casing and look at how the air filter is positioned inside. This is important so you know which way to put the new one in.
- Slip out the old filter, and insert the new one exactly how the old one was sat. Remember to reseal the casing when you’re done.
Bonus tip: To extend the life of your current air filter remove it from the casing and give it a blast with compressed air to remove dust and debris.
Perform DIY Battery Maintenance
Faulty batteries account for a huge number of breakdowns in the UK each year, yet many of these could be avoided with a little DIY battery maintenance. Batteries may seem complicated but with a little care and know-how, you can keep your battery ticking over happily — potentially saving you hundreds in unexpected repairs.
Have a look at your car’s battery and see if it’s in good condition. Residue on the posts and clamps can lead to a poor connection, which could result in a breakdown and a pricey trip to the garage. Spot any grime on the battery and it could be time to give it a routine clean, something that’s easier than you might think:
- Remove the battery terminals, starting with the negative cable first. If they’re stuck or gunged up, use a flathead screwdriver to pry them loose.
- Using a wire brush, scrub the battery terminals to remove dirt and grime. According to some sources, Coca Cola works as a great DIY car battery cleaner, but we’d recommend using a professional cleaning product instead such as Engine & Parts Degreaser.
- Once you’ve removed all traces of residue, rinse the battery with a little water before drying with a rag. Then, reverse the steps listed above to replace the battery terminals.
Cleaning your car’s battery might sound like a simple tip, but it’s a routine piece of maintenance that could see you save further down the line.
Industry experts have traditionally told motorists to change their oil every 3,000 miles, but newer cars and different types of synthetic oil now mean you can drive further between oil changes, especially if you drive carefully and avoid over-exerting the engine.
Considering the average oil change costs around £40, this means motorists must shell out £160-a-year in oil change costs (based on an average of 12,000 miles a year) to keep in-line with the 3,000-mile schedule. By making your car’s oil last another thousand miles or so, you could make a sizeable saving. Just make sure you follow the servicing schedule outlined in the owner’s manual.
Car problems will happen. Flat tyres, minor leaks, worn parts…they’re a part of car ownership. Spotting problems early (by noticing changes in how your car feels, funny noises, or increases in things like fuel consumption) means you’ll be able to fix them before they become major, and likely save some cash. Stock up with emergency repair items – Tyreweld’s a great thing to carry in your car for peace of mind, and Radweld can help you save money on costly radiator repairs.
Add an Experienced Driver to Your Insurance Policy
Rather than charging more to insure another driver on a single policy, insurance companies actually reduce their prices when you add an experienced driver with a clean driving licence and decent no-claims to your policy — especially if their occupation is classed as a ‘pillar of the community’ job (teacher, policeman, civil servant etc.)
Provided you get their permission first, you could stand to save a fortune on the cost of your insurance premium by adding experienced drivers to your policy. Before committing to buy or renew your annual car insurance, experiment by adding different friends and family members to the policy. Just make sure you remain the main driver of the car.
Choose Your Excess Wisely
Spot the term ‘voluntary excess’ on a car insurance application, and it can be tempting to lower this figure to as small a sum as possible. While there are advantages to opting for low voluntary excess, not least that you won’t have much to pay in the event of an accident, you could be shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to saving money on your overall car insurance quote.
By increasing your voluntary excess by as little as £50, you’ll see your quoted insurance prices tumble, meaning more money in your pocket. Work out how much you could afford to pay out, and adjust your voluntary excess accordingly. After all, you may never even need to pay out for damage, meaning you could have made a saving on a year’s insurance policy.
Don’t Leave it Until the Last Minute
According to Comparethemarket.com, motorists stand to save an average of £240 a year by switching their car insurance three weeks before its scheduled renewal date. This is because car insurance providers know that most drivers leave their insurance renewal until the last minute, and therefore ramp up their prices the closer people come to that all-important renewal date.
By perfectly timing when to renew your car insurance policy, you stand to make a huge saving — so it pays to be organised well in advance.
Don’t Rely on High Performance Fuels
Most fuel stations now offer high performance petrol and diesel promising more MPG and greater fuel economy. The truth is, unless you’re driving around in a performance car, there’s no need for performance fuel. Studies show there’s little to no difference in consumption between standard and super fuel when it’s used in a non-performance car, so don’t waste your money.
If you are keen on using high performance fuels, however, we’d recommend using the stuff every fourth time you top up the tank — opting for normal juice on most occasions, or alternatively use a quality fuel additive as this will give you control over what’s going in your engine.
Don’t Overfill the Fuel Tank
If you like to limit your trips to the pump by filling the tank to the brim, be careful not to overfill. Topping up the tank to the nearest round number is something most of us are guilty of doing, but this could actually be wasting money.
Fuel station pumps are equipped with a vapour recovery system, which is designed to stop petrol and diesel vapours escaping into the air when drivers are refuelling. By topping off your car’s fuel tank after the automatic shutoff has triggered, most of the fuel you use will be drawn back into the nozzle, and into the station’s overfill tanks — so you’re effectively squirting your money down the drain.
Not only that, but overfilling the fuel tank can result in excess weight which can in-turn hamper fuel economy, meaning your first few miles after refuelling will be more expensive.
Find the Cheapest Fuel in Your Area
We’ve all had the frustration of filling up at our local station only to see cheaper fuel advertised a few miles down the road, so it pays to find the cheapest pumps in your area if you spend a lot of time behind the wheel.
By using a free fuel price comparison site like Petrolprices.com, you can easily find the cheapest per-litre price of unleaded and diesel based on your postcode. A few pence here and there might not sound much, but over the course of a year, opting for cheaper fuel stations could save you hundreds in the cost of refuelling your car.
At Holts, we aim to solve your car problems by providing a great range of DIY car maintenance products, trusted by amateurs and professionals alike. To find out more, visit the Holts website.