Motors aren't cheap. The AA says the average cost of running a new car is up to £6,000 a year. So our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here to tell us his top tips for slashing £1,000s off running cars, bikes or vans.
1. Check your driving licence
Your licence may be valid, but there's a £1,000 fine if your photo is out of date. Driving licence photos need renewing every 10 years and 1.8 million are out of date! Urgently check section 4b on your photocard for the date your photo expires. You can renew your photocard at Directgov providing you've had a new digital passport issued in the last five years. Alternatively, anyone can get forms from most Post Offices, or print an application from the Directgov website.
2. Private parking companies can't fine you
It may be dressed up to look like a parking fine, but if you get a ticket at a supermarket, housing estate, etc, rather than from a council or police, it's not a fine, it's an invoice. Like any invoice, if you think it's unfair, tell them and don't pay.
3. Find the cheapest insurance
Bizarrely, the lowest level of cover - 3rd party - isn't always cheapest. Sometimes, comprehensive wins, as choosing it means you're considered a lower risk. So if you were going for 3rd party, also get a comprehensive quote and compare prices.
When you're looking for the cheapest quote - don't just use one comparison site, combine them, as different sites use different firms. Then add in companies like Aviva and Direct Line as these are the big insurers comparison sites miss out. See Martin's full Cheap Car Insurance guide for full help.
4. Get the cheapest cover for under 25s
Here's how to try to bag a-Ford-able cover:
- Try adding a 2nd named responsible driver to lower risk average, eg, this tweet: "£1,600+ on my own, just £550 with 2 named drivers. 20-yr-old male."
- Do full comparisons as explained above.
- Then check specialist young driver policies that use black boxes to monitor your driving, such as Coverbox where you pay per mile, Co-op where you pay how you drive, and iKube where you pay less during the day.
5. Consider using council MOT centres
Designed for councils' own vehicles (eg, buses), by law they must open to the public. As they generally don't do repairs, they've less vested interest in failing people, so anecdotally people get fewer fails, as in this tweet:"My 4x4 failed with a £1,200 bill at the local garage. My council-run MOT centre passed it. See a list of council run MOT centres.
6. Don't forget to haggle with breakdown cover
If you're happy with the cover you've got, but not the renewal price, then tell the breakdown company. A survey I did found 73% of AA customers who haggle succeed, along with 59% for RAC, so try it. It can lead to huge savings and little hassle as you stay with the same company.
If you're looking for new cover, you can sometimes effectively get it for around £10 if you just get a basic AA or RAC policy, but go through cashback sites like Quidco or Topcashback when they have specific cashback offers on. So you pay around £30 but then get £20 back.
6. Cut petrol costs
The big trick is to learn the 'drive as quick, but use less fuel' technique, which means accelerating gradually without revving, driving in the correct gear, slowing naturally and thinking about road position. For some, this will cut costs by 30% alone. Plus make your car more efficient by checking your tyre pressure's correct, taking off unused roof racks and decluttering your car so it's lighter.
Then find the cheapest forecourt in your area using Petrolprices.com. Also, if you're doing a supermarket shop, look out for any petrol offers - for example, currently if you spend £50 or more in-store or online at Tesco you'll get a 5p/litre off fuel voucher to use at its forecourts.