Fuel prices have started to rise again this month, now averaging £1.03/litre for unleaded - and the RAC expects a further 3p/L increase. The AA also predicts an up-to-25% rise in car insurance this year, and that's before the Govt ups car insurance tax a touch in October.
Overall, it's likely motor-running costs will accelerate faster than Lewis Hamilton - so it's time to slam on the brakes with our 50+ Motoring MoneySaving tips. For speed, here are the biggies...
1. Warning: Lock in TODAY'S car insurance prices to beat the possible 25% hike - even if you're not at renewal... 'I saved £290'. Even if your policy isn't up yet, check NOW if you can slash costs & lock in today's prices, using our Cheap Car Insurance system (more tips below). Yes, we are saying even if you're not at renewal - here's how...
i) Renewal within 60 days? Firms such as Aviva*, Nationwide & LV* give quotes valid for 60 days - so lock in a quote now before prices rise further, then check if it's still cheapest in 2mths. As @dimuthuj7 tweeted: "Renewal £521. Quote from a month ago, which was honoured, of £319. Thanks." See our 20 long-quote insurers list.
ii) Mid-policy, ie, many months left. If you can find a deal cheaper than your current one (and if you just auto-renewed that's VERY likely), then provided you've not claimed, for a £50ish admin fee you can usually cancel and get the rest of the year refunded (you won't earn the year's no-claims bonus), locking in today's price. Andy tweeted us: "You gave us confidence to change mid-policy - it was £40/mth, now £16." That's a huge £290/yr saved. See full switching mid-policy help.
2. Check your photo licence or risk a £1,000 fine. More than 2 million people's have expired - see what to check & what to do if it's invalid.
3. Ends Thu: Hidden car insurance deals comparison sites miss - incl free £60 M&S vch. Different comparison sites search different insurers, and even where they overlap they don't always have the same price. Best policy for your, er... policy, is to combine comparison sites. Our current order's Confused.com*, then Gocompare*, MoneySup* and if time CTM. Yet even then there are some they miss...
- Age UK*, £60 M&S vch with policy - ends Thu.
- Churchill*, £60 HoF, Debenhams, Cineworld vch - ends 5 Apr.
- Co-op*, £50 food voucher with policy.
- Also try Aviva* and Direct Line*, which comparison sites miss too.
We're not saying these deals will be cheapest, but they're worth getting quotes from and comparing with the best comparison results.
4. Use hidden 'fewer fails' council MOT centres. As they don't do repairs, they've no vested interest to fail you. Cat tweeted: "We always use a council MOT centre and in 5yrs I've never had a car fail an MOT. Everything is very efficient & cheap." Use our UK council MOTs finder to locate your nearest.
5. Seven tricks to use less fuel (slowing down isn't one). For some people this can cut 30% off their annual petrol bill - that's £800 a year if you put £50 of fuel in a week. For how see 7 cheap driving tricks.
6. Find your cheapest petrol station in seconds. Differences are huge, eg, in Manchester M20 the range is 99.7p to 107.9p, central London is 100.9p to a whopping 164.9p. Check a petrol price comparison.
7. Never renew breakdown cover (eg, AA or RAC) without haggling. In our poll of hagglers the AA was the top service provider to haggle with, with an 88% success rate. RAC was 3rd with 85%. Jacqueline emailed: "Thanks to Martin I have cut my RAC bill by £144 simply by phoning and threatening to leave." See our breakdown haggling tips.
8. Car (or bike) damaged by a pothole? You could be due £500+. They're a safety menace and can cause expensive damage, so use our full Pothole Claims guide to see if you're due.
9. More than one car in the home? Check multi-car policies - incl free £80 Karcher washer till Thu. Comparison sites' technology doesn't allow you to check these, so you need to do it manually. Admiral* covers up to five cars and it'll give a free £80 Karcher washer if you buy by Thu. Aviva* covers up to two. If time, also check Churchill*, Direct Line* & Privilege*, which give discounts on linked policies.
These won't always be cheapest so compare against buying individual policies using our Cheap Car Insurance system.
10. Free tank of fuel trick - if you're making a big purchase. If you're going to be shopping at Next, Boots, House of Fraser or others, there's a trick to get a free full tank of petrol.
11. Cut new RAC & AA policy costs to £21/yr buying the right way. Don't buy direct, take a slightly more scenic route for cheap AA/RAC cover.
12. Get up to 5% cashback on petrol or diesel. The Amex Platinum Everyday* credit card (eligibility calc) has no annual fee and pays 5% cashback in the first 3mths (max £100 cashback), then up to 1.25%. Ensure you pay it off in full every month (best by direct debit, so you never miss it) to avoid its 22.9% rep APR, which will dwarf any cashback. Full info in Petrol Cashback Cards.
13. Try adding Mum, Dad or Aunt Dora to car insurance to save £1,000s. Bizarrely, adding more drivers to your policy can cut costs, especially for younger drivers, as it lowers the risk average. Use trial & error, as MazzyB tweeted: "Took your tips & added mum to my insurance & saved £500."
NEVER add a second motorist as the main driver. It's 'fronting', which is fraud and can invalidate your insurance. See 7 tips on adding 2nd drivers.
14. Rent a driveway to slash parking costs. We found £12/day in central Ldn vs NCP's £42. See if you can rent a private parking space for less.
15. Renewing your licence, paying a toll charge? BEWARE GOOGLE AND BING. Search online to renew your driving licence, book a driving theory test or pay the congestion charge, and you may end up on shyster sites that charge admin fees on top of the normal cost to "fast-track" your application. This is nonsense. Anyone can get caught out - follow the official links in our Shyster Sites Warning.
16. Nine things you MUST do before taking your car to its MOT. Staggeringly one in five fails are caused by simple things such as lights not working, damaged windscreen wipers and tyre pressure probs. We've compiled 9 things to check before your MOT - the most common fails and what to do about them.
17. Private parking firms CAN'T fine you - don't believe the disguise. Many tickets from supermarkets, retail parks & private car park firms do better impressions than Alistair McGowan. Some even call themselves Parking Charge Notices (PCNs) to mimic official Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs). They've no right to fine you though - see how to Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets.
18. Some save £100s on car insurance by legitimately tweaking job titles. A contractor is oft cheaper than a builder's labourer, a hairdresser cheaper than a barber, a PA cheaper than a secretary. As @fabsternation tweeted us: "I saved £300+ going from creative director to marketing manager. Crazy." Play with our car insurance job picker tool to find your cheapest, and find when it does and doesn't work.
19. Unfair parking ticket? Over 50% who take it all the way beat 'em. If your ticket's unfair, appeal. Even if you lose that, don't be fobbed off - go all the way to the final tribunal and over half win. See Fight unfair council parking tickets.
20. Warning - monthly car insurance doesn't exist, it's a hidden loan. They simply loan you the year's cost, often at 20%+ APR, as @rgeldard found: "I saved 27% on my renewal price by switching from paying monthly to in full." Check what your insurer charges as often you'll be far better off spreading the cost over a year on a 0% credit card.
This article first appeared in the weekly email on 30 March 2016.