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Get Your Motor Running For Less

Aug 21, 2008
Petrol prices, car tax, insurance, repairs; motoring is not cheap and as more countries around the World hint at a recession it's not getting any cheaper. As people look to get rid of their gas guzzlers quick to save money, here's a few ways to keep motoring and to save money.

Many people with larger engined cars are suddenly flooding the market in an attempt to downshift to a smaller motor that will be more economical to run. Don't be fooled into joining in. Yes a larger engine is likely to consume a bit more but fuel economy has a lot of factors other than engine size. The biggest factor is the way you drive. If you thrash an engine of any size it is bound to consume more, drive your car sensibly, accelerate gradually and don't use motorways at 100mph, it's also a lot safer and speed limits are there for a reason. Tearing away from traffic lights is only ever going to save you a matter of seconds and it's really not worth it.

If you do use motorways and highways a lot in your day to day driving then a smaller car will consume more on the longer stretches anyway so simply avoid those smaller journeys. Learn to walk again. Checking your tyre pressure weekly will also ensure better economy, running on tyres that are low on air will guzzle plenty of petrol as it puts greater strain on your engine. Most petrol stations allow you to top up your air for free and it takes a matter of minutes.

Correct car maintenance can also stand to save you a small fortune in the long run. Keep your coolant level and oil topped up and check them at regular intervals to avoid engine trouble. The cost of a bottle of oil every now and then is a lot cheaper than most repair bills. Regular - six monthly or once a year - basic services will also improve your cars life and performance. I'm not talking taking it to the garage or dealer, simply replacing the filters and spark plugs and cleaning the points will improve the cars efficiency and give you a nice sense of satisfaction.

If you notice a problem arising in the day to day running of your car, get it fixed before it becomes a bigger problem and a bigger bill. Do, however, shop around for both parts and garages, don't go straight to the same place each time as you may be able to find a cheaper deal elsewhere.

Shopping around will also mean a better deal in that other motoring expense - insurance. It is very easy when that time of year comes around and your current provider sends you a letter saying how you need to do nothing in order to stay with them for another year at such and such a low price. The initial thought is very likely to be along the lines of "well, they gave me a good price last year so they're sure to do the same this year" but we've all seen those adverts of various degrees of annoyance all of them touting lower prices than the other. Simply pick up the phone or turn on the computer and take a short while to have a look. It's not that much hassle and I'd rather save 60 quid a year, say, than let the same provider assume I want them to rip me off for another year. Especially if my no-claims bonus has gained another year.

Like car insurance there are other cost that are unavoidable, the biggest of which being car tax. While the engine size and emissions of your car will make a lot of difference here and it is oh so tempting to pay the smaller amount for six months, it is cheaper to pay the annual fee. It may seem like a lot at the time but you can save a minimum of 40 pounds and removes the hassle of having to do it again in half a year, which always seems to come around so quick.

If you don't want to pay car tax at all then you need to either buy a car that emits less than 100g/km of CO2 or one that was registered before January 1st 1974. Though, if you do go down the classic car road you won't be enjoying power steering or creature comforts and are likely to need specialist insurance. If you're buying a new car don't buy one that is literally brand new and showroom fresh. The depreciation rate on new cars today is staggering, some losing 60 percent of their value within their first year.

The other unavoidable cost, no matter how economically you drive, is petrol. Be it unleaded, super-unleaded, diesel, or lpg, it is never free and, short of talking to a lawyer, is the quickest you'll see money disappear before your eyes. There is still money to be saved though. Firstly, avoid filling up on the motorway, we all know service stations love our cash so don't give it to them. Find your cheapest local petrol station instead, there's a plethora of websites dedicated to finding them for you and don't charge for the benefit. Fill up rather than half fill when petrol prices are unstable. Filling your car at 112.9p a litre is going to be cheaper than putting a tenner in and then having to put a tenner in when it jumps to 115.9p a litre and finding you get less.

It all makes a difference and while it may not be an immediate difference there are long term savings to be made which will make all the difference in this buoyant economical climate.
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