As news of the cost of living crisis continues to roll in, it is easy to feel disheartened. With petrol prices exceeding £100 for family-sized cars for the first time, car owners in particular will be looking for ways to save.
Everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment, but there are steps you can take to try and save some money when it comes to your car.
Read on and learn how you can take care of your car on a budget.
Invest in a Car Service
Whilst it may seem counterintuitive to suggest you book in for a car service, this is actually a really smart use of your money. A car service can make your vehicle more fuel efficient, help your engine to run smoothly, and extend the lifespan of your car overall. Depending on your driving style, a car service may only be required once a year.
If you think you have the skills to do so yourself, then there are certain aspects of a car service - such as an oil change or replacing the air filter - that you can perform at home. However, you should only do this if you have detailed technical knowledge, and the appropriate tools to work with.
If you are at all concerned about trying to do something yourself, then you should definitely leave this to the professionals. It is always worth paying to get the job done right the first time. Even if this means spending money initially, this could save you from an expensive repair or replacement in future. Something as simple as a professional oil change can really help your car to function better for longer.
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Shop Around for Car Insurance
Don’t settle for the most expensive car insurance just because it saves having to look for a new provider. If you have noticed that the price of your car insurance has risen since you were last automatically charged, you may be able to ask for the price to be lowered, just by calling your car insurance provider.
Unless you say something to the contrary, then this price will most likely stay the same or continue to increase with each renewal. Make sure you don’t miss the chance to do something about this before the next payment rolls round - speak to your current provider, or see if you can find a better deal elsewhere by using a price comparison website.
Paying once a year rather than in monthly instalments could help you save, as your car insurance provider will likely charge interest on monthly payments. You should consider adding a second or even third named driver to your car insurance. Even if this driver uses the car less often, this can sometimes lower the insurance premium if your insurance company thinks that an additional driver is low risk.
It is also worth questioning whether you drive fewer miles in a year than you tell your insurance provider that you do. If so, then you could be paying for a more premium policy than you need to. Be realistic, and you might just save some money.
Get a Costco Membership
If you are looking to save on petrol, consider a Costco membership. There are varying membership levels and price ranges to choose from, so you can pick the one that works best for you and your budget.
In order to qualify to be a member, individuals must be over 18, and meet certain requirements in order to obtain some of the higher price memberships. Costco members can take advantage of cheaper fuel at the wholesaler’s pumps, so it is definitely worth looking into becoming a member as petrol prices increase.
Compare Petrol Prices
Depending on where you live, it can be difficult to find affordable petrol - especially in the current economic climate. Free apps like Petrol Prices can help you to compare prices for both petrol and diesel, so you can find the cheapest option that works for your budget. This means that you can plan ahead, and avoid getting caught out by expensive fuel at the pumps.
You can enter your postcode and choose the fuel type and brand that suits you, so you don’t need to compromise on quality.
Your Driving Style Matters
You may not realise it, but the way you drive could be costing you money. If you tend to accelerate quickly whilst in a higher gear, this could be wearing out your tyres unnecessarily. Not to mention the extra fuel you will use up by driving faster.
Instead of rapidly switching between acceleration and deceleration, drive at a steady pace and you won’t burn through fuel as fast.
Where possible, you should also avoid driving over holes in the road or hitting the kerb - even a small impact at low speed can damage your suspension. Likewise, you definitely don’t want to ride the clutch, as this is expensive to replace due to its location within your vehicle, and it likely won’t be covered by a warranty. Take your foot off the clutch pedal before you change gear to take some of this pressure off.
Start Your Engine
You may be thinking of using your car less in the colder months. Whilst this can help you to save on petrol, it is important that you make sure that you take care of your car - even if it isn’t leaving your driveway.
One way to do this is by recharging your battery, which you can do by turning on the engine and letting it run for 15 minutes. Do this every 1-2 weeks, and you can avoid the cost of replacing the battery altogether. Remember, you should do this in an open space, not a closed garage.
Your car will require more fuel to brake and accelerate during the colder months of the year. Driving slowly can help your car to warm up gradually, and prevent the consumption of unnecessary petrol.
Buy the Right Tyres
You don’t need to buy the most premium tyres to get your car driving smoothly. However, you should invest in the best quality tyres you can afford, as cheaper tyres will likely wear out faster. Better to choose higher quality tyres now, and save yourself the hassle of replacing your cheaper tyres in a few months.
If you are really looking to save, then you could purchase used tyres - but you should do so only if the tyre brand is well-known, you have knowledge of the tyre history, and you are purchasing them from a professional and reputable UK garage.
If you notice any damage to the tyres, or are at all hesitant, do not proceed with the purchase. You may fail your MOT if your tyres are damaged, or improperly fitted to your vehicle. Not to mention the fear that comes with driving on unsafe tyres - your safety matters most!
It is smart to buy efficient tyres that are suited to your vehicle’s requirements. You can refer to your owner’s manual to learn more. It is important that the tyres you choose match the correct tyre size for your vehicle, and that these tyres align with the tyre speed rating for your car.
If you choose tyres that aren’t suited to the tyre speed rating for your vehicle, then you could be at higher risk of tyre blowout or even lose control of your steering whilst driving.
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Check Your Tyre Pressure
Not only is it important that you choose the right tyres for your vehicle, but you need to regularly check that the tyre pressure is at the appropriate level too. Both under-inflated and over-inflated tyres pose certain dangers for your vehicle. Over-inflated tyres wear unevenly, giving them less traction. Under-inflated tyres force the rest of your car to work harder, which can wreak havoc on your wheels, suspension, and brake lines.
What's more, if your wheels aren’t aligned properly, this can lead to your tyres coming into contact with the road at different angles. Be sure to check your tyre tread regularly for any dips and wear, and look out for a vibrating steering wheel. If your car is pulling to one side, it may be time to book a wheel alignment check to be on the safe side.
Empty the Car Boot
If you have been doing a closet clear-out or are in the process of moving, then chances are your car boot is filled with bags waiting to be donated. Now would be an excellent time to donate these items, as heavy objects could be putting unnecessary strain on your tyres if the maximum load weight for your vehicle is being exceeded. Refer to your vehicle’s handbook to find out what the maximum load weight is for your vehicle.
Know that any additional weight could be putting pressure on your suspension and brakes, which could lead to a costly replacement. Even if you follow the previous step on this list and inflate your tyres to the right level, your efforts won’t make a difference if your tyres are struggling under the weight of your vehicle, and you will use up more fuel as a result. Empty your boot and do a good deed in the process!
Don't Ignore That Warning Light
Our final tip is to never ignore a warning light for too long. A warning light is there for a reason - to keep you safe, and give you a chance to fix the problem. The longer you leave that light to flash, the more likely your car is to need further checks or - worse still - to break down unexpectedly. Whether it is a diesel particulate filter warning light or a fuel level low light, you should pay attention and act accordingly.
Depending on the warning light in question, you may need to reset the light yourself once the problem has been resolved, or take your car to a professional garage to have this done for you. You may not even know which warning light you are looking at! That's why it is so important that you stay aware of these issues, so that you can act fast and put a stop to a potential breakdown.
We hope that these ten tips have given you some ideas on how you can save money in this stressful time. Taking care of your car on a regular basis can help you to prepare for the future, and avoid any nasty surprises.
If you would like to maintain the health of your vehicle with a car service now, you can use BookMyGarage to compare prices and find the best car service for you today.
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