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Many spend £3,000+/yr running a car - here are 26 ways to slash costs
New car registrations launch tomorrow (we're moving to '66' plates if you're wondering). That means September is a big month for car insurance renewals - with costs up 17%.
With petrol prices up from winter's £1/litre, running costs are also increasing. So to stop motoring costs sending you into a spin (sorry), we're revving up (sorry) to drive down (sorry again - well, not really) your spending with our A-Z...
AA/RAC cover - don't just renew, you'll pay way over the odds. When the big two renew, they can cost £100s. Yet breakdown firms are among the easiest to haggle with - in our poll, 88% of AA and 86% of RAC members who tried were successful. Like Liane, who tweeted me: "@MartinSLewis, got my AA renewal down from £210 to £94". See haggle down breakdown cover.
If you're looking for new cover, you can slash basic costs down to £22 a year by buying the right way - see Cheap AA/RAC Cover. Alternatively, for full cover including home start and onward travel via its 'pay and claim policy', AutoAid is £42 a year. Far more help in Cheap Breakdown Cover.
Beat MOT fails - find hidden 'fewer fails' centres. Council MOT centres are mainly to look after buses and ambulances, but they're also open to the public. As they don't do repairs, there's no vested interest to fail you, just to keep you safe. Our Council MOT Centres Help shows your nearest and how it works.
The best result we've seen is forumite Glen7's: "I had a pre-MOT and they said it would fail and cost around £400 to put right. Instead I booked my car into my nearest council MOT centre, they tested my car and it passed."
Car insurance - prices are up 17% this year - act now to lock in at a cheap price. Car insurance prices are 17% higher than a year ago, and the trend to increase is likely to continue. So everyone, whether you're at renewal or not, should check right now to see if you can lock in at the cheapest price. See Cheap Car Insurance for the full cost-cutting system.
The key point is to combine comparison sites, to get max quotes in min time (they search different providers and can have special prices). Our current order to check: Confused.com*, Gocompare*, CTM & MoneySup*.
Even if you're not at renewal you may be able to save...
- Renewal within 60 days? Some firms, such as Aviva*, Nationwide & LV*, give quotes valid for 60 days (see full list of 20 long-quote insurers) so get one now, then check against quotes at renewal time.
- Midway through a policy? The key here is to find if you can get a cheaper policy than your current one (use the comparison sites and other tips below). If so, then provided you've not claimed, for a £50ish admin fee (factor that in) you can usually cancel your current policy and get the rest of the year refunded. You won't earn this year's no-claims bonus, but if it means you save now and prevent future price rises, it can be a big winner. Full info: Switching mid-policy.
As Mubariz tweeted: "Just had my car insurance HALVED (£543 saving) plus £150 refund by changing mid-policy. HUGE thanks to @MartinSLewis."
Deals comparison sites miss - incl last chance £60 M&S vch. Car insurance comparison sites don't include every insurer. The big two missed are Aviva* and Direct Line*, which can be winners. Yet there are also insurers they include whose promo deals they don't.
As Rebecca tweeted: "Watched @MartinSLewis on TV and went to a car insurer I didn't know was not on comparison websites... saved £200".
So it's worth checking them too - if these deals are a similar price to your cheapest, the promos can make them your winner. Vouchers usually sent within 120 days.
- Ends today (Wed): Age UK*. Get a £60 M&S vch with a policy.
- Ends Mon: Churchill*. Get a £50 Amazon, House of Fraser or Argos vch with a policy.
- Co-op Insurance*. Get £50 in Co-op food vchs with a policy by 18 Nov.
- You may also be able to get cashback on a range of policies.
Efficient driving - cut petrol costs by 30% (and I don't mean go slow). Drive clever and you drive cheap. 7 tricks to use less fuel
Fuel prices - find YOUR cheapest petrol or diesel in seconds. A nifty tool finds the cheapest forecourt near you. The differences can be huge, eg, central London 105.9p to 174.9p, Leeds 106.6p to 122.9p. Petrol price comparison
Glove box parking aid - parking self-defence, print & put it in your car. Avoid fines, and what to do when ticketed in our free glove-box guide.
Halfords - FREE £15 summer car check. Get your battery, wipers, oil, screenwash (with free refill), bulbs & air-con checked & sorted at no cost. Free car check-up
I paid 96p for a year's car insurance (fully comp) - can you beat our all-time record result? The insurance tips above are the tip of the iceberg; the full MSE car insurance system has a host more, and we compete to find the all-time cheapest. The current record is grandmother Barbara's 96p annual insurance made up of a £120.96 quote, but getting £120 cashback.
Job titles - tweak 'em to cut car insurance costs. Our fun Job Picker tool (it's old, we plan to update it soon) may help. As @fabsternation tweeted us: "I saved £300+ going from creative director to marketing manager. Crazy."
Kids in the car? You'll be fined £50 if caught smoking. In Eng and Wales it's illegal to smoke in a vehicle if there's an under 18 in it, & it'll soon be the same in Scotland and N. Ireland.
Licence warning - Over 2m risk a £1,000 fine for out-of-date photos. You must renew every 10yrs, millions haven't. See photo licence warning.
MOTs - hidden tricks to pre-test your car. Many fail needlessly, yet a simple 5min pre-check fixes that with 9 pre-MOT tricks to avoid fails.
No such thing as 'monthly' car insurance - it's a hidden loan. Firms call it monthly insurance - in fact they pay it upfront and you pay back a loan. The rates can be as high as 101% APR; here's a list of car insurers' 'monthly pay' APRs to check yours. If you can't pay in one go, a 0% credit card is far cheaper, just ensure you clear it within the year.
On two wheels? Nail the best motorbike or scooter insurance deals. It's not just car drivers who can save; if you think two wheels beat four, check out our motorbike insurance cost-cutting system.
Private parking firms - don't believe their 'fines', they're just invoices. Yet many will try to make you think they're council tickets. Take a look at these two tickets - can you spot which is an official council ticket? Answer at the end of this A-Z.
If you do get a private ticket and it's unfair, you can fight it; see our fight unfair PRIVATE parking tickets guide. Alexandra tweeted: "@MartinSLewis, followed your template on private parking tickets and it helped me win the appeal for my wrongful parking ticket, so thank you".
Quintessentially British? Check if your caravan needs cover. If you love your caravan, it's worth considering whether it should be insured separately from your car insurance. To help you decide and find the cheapest, read our new Caravan Insurance guide.
Rent someone's driveway - cut the cost of parking by over 50%. If you're struggling to park, many sites now let you speedily check if you can rent a private parking space for less. We found £10/day in Ldn compared with NCP's £22.
Second drivers - adding mum, dad or Aunt Dot can CUT not ADD to costs. You'd think more drivers means a higher price. Yet adding a responsible driver can lower your risk average and reduce your car insurance costs. As Megan told us: "My daughter added my partner to her quote and it dropped £207 to £753".
Third-party insurance - don't assume it's the cheapest. Bizarrely many find that they get fully comprehensive cheaper - for why see 3rd party vs fully comp.
Unfair council parking ticket? Over 50% win, even after initial rejection. Even though council tickets are legit, they can be given unfairly. If that happens to you, take them on. Of those who go all the way to the final tribunal, 56% win. See fight unfair COUNCIL parking tickets.
Vot holes? Don't let the council fob you off. OK, I was struggling to find a 'V' and I wanted to include potholes. If your car or bike is damaged by one, you do have rights. Use our Pothole Damage Claims full guide to see if you're due and how you can claim your money back.
Worn tyres? It just takes 20p to find out. Use this quick 20p check to ensure your tyres are legal, plus where you can change 'em wheely cheap.
(E)Xorbitant gap insurance? Do you need it? Gap insurance covers the difference between an insurance payout for a write-off and the purchase price. See Do I need gap insurance?
Young driver? How to slash costs, eg, 'I saved £600'. Youngsters can pay through the roof if they're not careful, but our Young Drivers' Insurance guide has top tips for you or your kids to drop prices down a gear. Julie tweeted "@MoneySavingExp thanks to your tips my daughter saved £50 a month on car insurance #happydriver".
Zoom over to our 50+ tips. We've a trunkload more tips in our 50 Motoring MoneySaving tips guide. And if you've got any motoring MoneySaving questions, MSE Megan & Tony are doing a Twitter Q&A at 1-1.30pm on Thu. Send 'em in advance to @MoneySavingExp using #MSEMotoring.
DID YOU SPOT THE DIFFERENCE? The 'Penalty Charge Notice' ticket at the top is an official council ticket, the 'Parking Charge Notice' mimicking it is from a private firm.
PS: I'm now back from my August sabbatical, thanks for all your good wishes, I'm raring to go to save you lots of money. Martin.