None of us wants to spend more on our car than we absolutely have to, especially with the cost of living so high right now. Running costs always seem to be rising and it can be hard to keep them under control.

However, there are some easy ways to reduce yours, and there's no better time to change your habits than at the start of a new year.

Whether you're trying to make each tank of fuel last as long as possible or save money on parking, car insurance or road tax, here are 10 ways you can reduce your driving expenses in 2022.

 

Keep Your Car Light

A heavy car is an inefficient car. We all struggle a little when we're carrying extra weight and feel like we have to use more energy to do simple tasks. Your car is no different.

Your engine has to work a lot harder to pull the rest of your car around if it's fully laden. If you don't need something heavy, try and avoid leaving it in the boot or on the back seat. You may be able to extend your fuel economy by only packing what you need for your journey, rather than using your car as mobile storage space.

 

Conduct Regular Maintenance Checks

Your car suffers natural wear and tear, even if you're the smoothest, safest driver. This can lead to expensive repairs without proper maintenance and servicing. You should replace your brake pads, cambelt, clutch, coolant and brake fluid at the correct intervals and change your engine oil and filter at least once a year, usually as part of a car service.

However, you can also complete a few checks at home to catch problems early and avoid the really expensive repair bills. We recommend completing the following checks regularly, as well as before any long journey and your MOT test. 3/4 of drivers check the MOT history of a used car before purchasing and 78% are more likely to buy it if it has a clean history! Don't let an avoidable fault spoil your perfect record and reduce the value of your car.

Engine Oil: Pull the dipstick all the way out, clean it with a cloth and then reinsert it. Pull it out again and check the colour and quantity of your oil. It should be golden brown and between the minimum and maximum lines.

Coolant: The fluid in your reservoir should be brightly coloured and at the maximum line. Your car doesn't consume coolant, so a lack of fluid indicates a leak. On top of that, there should not be any bits floating in your coolant.

Tyre Tread & Condition: Place a 20p piece in each groove. If the rubber covers the inner rim of the coin, your tyres are road legal. To check for damage, inspect the rubber visually. You're looking for any cracks, gouges, punctures, frayed rubber or other damage.

You can also find out the age of your tyre by looking for four numbers on the sidewall, i.e., 1618. This indicates the week of the year the tyre was manufactured (so week 16 of 2018). You should replace your tyres every 4-6 years, and should never have tyres that are more than 10 years old fitted to your vehicle.

Tyre Pressure: Many UK petrol stations have tyre pressure machines which are free-to-use. Follow the instructions on the machine to check your tyre pressure and compare it to your car's recommended PSI. You can find this in your vehicle handbook. If you need to adjust the pressure, follow the relevant instructions on the machine.

Windscreen Wipers: Run your hand along the rubber, feeling for any tears, frayed rubber or other damage. If your wipers are leaving smear marks or just pushing the water around, wipe them down with a clean cloth. If this doesn't improve their performance, you should buy new wiper blades.

If any of these checks alert you to a problem, make sure you book your car into a local garage as soon as possible to get it fixed.

 

You should also make sure you know the recommended replacement intervals for your clutch, cambelt and brake pads & discs. Generally, they should be replaced as follows:

Clutch Replacement: Every 60,000 miles

Cambelt Change: Every 40,000 - 100,000 miles or 4-6 years

Brake Pad Replacement: Every 25,000 - 60,000 miles

Brake Disc Replacement: Every 50,000 miles

 

However, your driving style affects them, so you may need to replace yours sooner. Only take the above mileages as a rough average. If you're not sure whether any of your parts are due for replacement, you can book a car service through BookMyGarage today to get a professional opinion on the quality of your car.

 

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Change Your Working Habits

If you've worked from home at any point over the last couple of years, you might have noticed significant savings on your fuel bills. If so, why not work from home more often this year? If you think it could work well for you, try and work something out with your employer.

If you can't work from home but you're close with some work colleagues who live near you, why not suggest a carpool? This reduces the number of cars travelling the same route, helping you all save on your fuel costs. While you would still contribute to other people's fuel costs, you might see that you end up spending a lot less on fuel in the long run.

 

Find the Cheapest Parking Space

You may know a good car park that you always use, but that doesn't mean that it's the cheapest option. If you regularly pay for parking, why not make sure you're getting the best deal on it?

JustPark helps you do just that. Not only can you find the cheapest parking space, but you can also make a bit of extra money hiring out your private parking space to other drivers!

 

Walk or Cycle More

Of course, using your car less is a great way to avoid fuel and parking costs altogether! Short journeys are bad for your fuel economy, which can lead to you spending more at the pump. This year, why not leave your car at home for some journeys and walk or cycle instead?

If there are cheap bus routes near you, you might also want to think about using them more regularly. You'll be doing a little bit for the environment as well!

 

Shop Around For Car Insurance

Never auto-renew your car insurance without looking at your other options first. While UK insurers are now required by law to give renewal customers the same great deals they offer new customers, your current provider may still not be the cheapest. When you receive your renewal quote, make sure you shop around on price comparison sites before accepting the offer. You could be surprised by the savings on offer!

Even if you decide to stick with your current insurer, you might be able to lower your renewal quote if you can prove that there were cheaper deals elsewhere. Comparing car insurance costs is a great way to save money on driving in 2022 and can lead to some of the biggest results!

 

Can Fuel Cashback Work For You?

Certain credit cards come with cashback options. These give you a small percentage of your total spend back each month, up to a maximum amount. For example, the 123-credit card from Santander provides 3% cashback on petrol (up to £3 a month). It also includes 1% cashback from major supermarkets and 2% for department stores, all for a small fee (£3 a month). 

There are plenty of other options available, so shop around and see if any of the options are suitable for you. You have to buy fuel for your car one way or another, so why not get a little back in return?

 

Avoid Busy Times (If Possible)

Sometimes, driving in rush hour is a necessary evil. However, you should avoid it if you can. Idling wastes fuel, which leads to more frequent fill-ups and increased fuel costs.

If you can't work from home and need to travel at busy times, consider switching your engine off when stuck in traffic. This is easiest if your car has an automatic start/stop system (check your vehicle handbook to switch it on) but you can also do so by turning the key. Also, plan your route to avoid roadworks if possible. The less time you spend stuck in traffic, the more money you can save at the pump. 

 

Show Your Car Some Love Yourself

Everyone wants their car to look great, but using a car wash isn't the most economical decision. If you've got the time, invest in some high-quality cleaning products and wash your car by hand.

Yes, the initial cost of the products may be higher, but they'll last for a while. In the long run, cleaning your car yourself should end up cheaper, especially as the average cost to use an automatic car wash in the UK is £6.30.

 

Pay Your Road Tax In One Hit (If You Can)

If you drive a car registered before March 2017, you could be paying slightly less on road tax if you pay the full amount upfront. On average, Direct Debit payments add £12.83 (5%) to the cost of your yearly tax!

Of course, if you drive a vehicle in band D (£130 a year) or above, this sort of one-off payment may not be affordable. However, if you can pay your road tax upfront, you could save yourself a few pounds!