Ratesetter customers waiting months to access their cash
27 October 2020
The annual cost of driving can easily run into the £1,000s. Even if you've a good little runner, insurance, MOTs, breakdown cover, parking and fuel can all quickly clock up the pounds. Yet it's possible to save on all of these. We've put together a MoneySaving motoring checklist with 53 tips to help drive down costs while keeping you safe and legal on the road.
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The minimum level of cover to legally drive on the road is known as 'third party' insurance.
Nope, it's not where you end up after a long night out – it's a specific type of insurance that covers you for any damage to another vehicle (or someone else's property). It also protects passengers in your car and the public, but doesn't give fire or theft cover.
It used to be the cheapest type of cover, but bizarrely, fully comprehensive policies can be cheaper for some. This is because selecting fully comp may mean you're considered a lower risk.
Logically, third party insurance should be cheapest as it offers less cover than fully comp – yet this isn't always the case.
To illustrate this forumite DobbieSloan reported the following success story:
My auto renew quote was £210 for 3rd party only. I went to a comparison site and got comprehensive breakdown cover & free car hire with the same company for £40 less.
It isn't a hard and fast rule, but always make sure you get quotes for third party and fully comprehensive. Remember that with third party, you and your car aren't covered for loss or damage.
Use MoneySupermarket*, Confused.com*, Gocompare* and Compare The Market* to compare quotes at speed, then check Aviva* and Direct Line* which they miss. Then check the policy's right and see if cashback's available. Always check your policy, so you know exactly what you are and aren't covered for in the event of a claim.
For full info, see the Cheap Car Insurance guide.
Buying fuel is the biggest regular expenditure for most people, whether using a card or cash. But there's a nifty way to save every time you fill up.
Cashback credit cards pay a percentage whenever you spend on them, which soon adds up. The American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday* card pays 5% introductory cashback for the first three months on all spending (including petrol and diesel) up to £2,000 (so max £100 cashback).
After the introductory period the cashback is tiered: if you spend £0 to £5,000 you get 0.5% cashback, and all spending above £5,001 attracts the full 1% cashback. You must spend at least £3,000 on the card in a year or you will get NO cashback.
Make sure you repay IN FULL each month, or you'll pay interest at 22.2%. For full details see our Cashback Credit Cards guide.
There more ways to save too – see the Cheap Petrol & Diesel guide for full info.
Photocard licences came into force in 1998. More than two million people have an out-of-date photocard, according to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – so check yours now.
If it's out of date, see our Is Your Driving Licence Valid? guide for full details of how to renew it.
Under the new system, photos must be replaced every 10 years (no matter how young you look).
You can be fined up to £1,000 if you drive while your photocard's expired. Yet it's just £14 to renew online, £17 by post or £21.50 at a post office – an annoying cost, but far more MoneySaving than the alternative.
Paper tax discs were scrapped in 2014. But while you no longer need to display one, you DO still have to tax your vehicle. If you don't, you could face a fine of up to £1,000 and have to pay back tax. What's more, your car could be clamped, or even impounded – in which case you'll be charged a £200 release fee, plus an extra £21 a day until you pay it.
Recent figures show since paper discs were abolished, the number of untaxed vehicles on the road has tripled to 755,000, despite the police deploying cameras with number plate recognition technology to spot untaxed vehicles.
Search for 'tax disc' or 'pay vehicle tax' on Google and you risk being duped into paying a copycat site.
These firms appear on search engines dressed up as official agencies. They let you unnecessarily fill in vehicle tax applications through them, slipping in their own hefty charges on top – sometimes up to £100 extra.
Regular MOTs are a must for any vehicle. Yet as their maximum cost is fixed at £54.85 for cars, it's not the test fee but repairing the fails which often makes the biggest dent.
If you've had problems with Del Boy dealerships in the past, little-known council-run MOT centres generally don't do repairs, so they've no vested interest in failing you.
Thousands report a massive difference. Here's one MoneySaver's story:
My usual garage said to make it pass its MOT, repairs would cost almost £1,000. Following the article, I took it to the council test centre instead and it passed without any work needed.
The Cheap Council MOTs guide includes a huge list of test centres to give your vehicle the best chance of passing.
The MOT rules have changed. Since 20 May 2018, if a 'dangerous' fault - eg, insufficient tyre tread, contaminated brake fluid - is found with your car when it's being tested, you won't be able to drive it away until it's been fixed. If you go to a council test centre which doesn't do repairs, your only option will be to have it towed. For full info, see MOT rule changes.
Many petrol stations sell 'high performance' fuels, yet there's little or no performance difference for most standard cars. So for an easy saving, don't fill up with the super fuels unless you've a sports car that you've been advised will actually use it correctly.
The AA says that for most, high performance fuels are too pricey for regular use. But if you're keen, it suggests using a high performance fuel every third or fourth tank full to keep the engine clean and efficient, then reverting to normal fuel.
Finding affordable young drivers' car insurance can be a nightmare – the average for a 17 to 22-year-old is over £1,300/yr. But there are simple ways to save.
The Young Drivers' Insurance guide offers a step-by-step system to help, with tips to slice off every spare penny. Here are the key points:
On expiry, don't just accept the renewal price. Many firms quote highly inflated costs which are easily beatable by asking for the deals given to new customers.
Our poll in February 2019 showed haggling success rates are huge - 88% of AA customers and 85% of RAC customers who tried to haggle managed to slash the price they pay.
See Breakdown Cover Haggling for more.
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It's possible to drive the same distance in the same time using much less fuel – without cutting your top speed. In the process, you could cut petrol or diesel costs by up to 30%.
Here are a few pointers to get you started. See our drive more efficiently tips for more:
Around 35% of cars fail their MOT test first time, and far too many for a simple, avoidable reason. Often fixing problems is a question of common sense, not mechanical know-how.
Some fails you can fix yourself, others will need a professional. Either way, sorting it pre-test is usually cheaper. Here are the main points to check. See our DIY MOT guide for more.
Getting an unfair parking ticket from an official body, such as a council or the police, is a sting in the tailpipe.
See the Parking Ticket Appeals guide for step-by-step info on what to do. If you've got a good case, it's worth fighting it, as 56% who take their appeal to the independent tribunal win.
You normally have the right to appeal twice to the body that issued the ticket. If that fails, then take your challenge to the independent adjudicator. If your car's been clamped or towed away, you can appeal once to the council/police, then to the independent tribunal.
Millions of pounds are spent each year repairing potholes. If your car's been damaged by one, you may be able to claim back the cost of your repairs.
If you're thinking about claiming there are a few things you need to know. Firstly, it's not an easy process and can take a while. When you start you must prove it was the pothole wot dunnit, as just saying your car was damaged isn't enough – you you will need to get a mechanic to vouch for this as well as gather evidence, eg, take photos of the pothole.
It's also worth noting you can only claim if the authority responsible for maintaining the road didn't carry out the checks or repairs that it should have. See full info and get free template letters and step-by-step help in our Pothole Claims guide.
It's a common misconception that cars don't need insurance when not driven. But legally, cars must be insured unless they've been declared off-the-road with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) or they've been untaxed and without a SORN since before 31 January 1998.
The Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme came into effect in June 2011, stating all cars must be insured even if no one drives them (see the Compulsory car insurance MSE News story).
The rules are designed to clamp down on uninsured drivers. Break 'em and there's a fine followed by clamping, seizure or having the car destroyed (warning letters come first).
Even if you let cover lapse during holidays or hospital stays, you're breaking the law.
The only way out's to apply for a SORN, which declares the car will never be driven. To apply, see the Gov.uk website.
If you're planning to drive in a major cities in Europe, including Paris, Berlin, Marseille and Munich but also some smaller towns, you're likely to need an emissions sticker to avoid risking a £70+ fine.
Several countries on the continent require you to do this to drive through certain cities at certain times, in order to curb pollution. If you have an older car it could be banned altogether at certain times.
In some cases you'll have to order a sticker before you leave the UK, so check what you need and see full details of how to get one in our Driving in Europe guide.
Even if your policy isn't up yet, check now to see if you can slash costs and lock in today's prices.
Comparison sites zip your details to hosts of insurers' and brokers' websites, scraping their data to report back the cheapest. We've full step-by-step help in our Cheap Car Insurance guide, but to get quotes at speed, combine MoneySupermarket*, Confused.com*, Gocompare* and Compare the Market* to compare, then check Aviva* and Direct Line*, which they miss.
Then check the policy's right and see if cashback's available. Always check your policy, so you know exactly what you are and aren't covered for in the event of a claim. The record using the full system is 96p for a year's fully comprehensive cover back in 2009 – let us know if you beat it.
The best time to buy is three weeks ahead. Buying car insurance three weeks ahead of when you want your policy to start is likely to get you the cheapest price through a comparison site. For full info, see the Revealed: The best day to buy car insurance MSE News Story.
While the system above has always worked well for those at renewal, predictions of sharp hikes mean it's worth checking if you can save now even if your policy isn't yet up. Here's how:
Renewal within 60 days? Firms such as Aviva* and Quotemehappy give quotes valid for 60 days – so lock in a quote now before prices rise further, then check if it's still cheapest in two months' time. See our lock-in insurers list.
Breakdowns are inevitably more common in winter, so it's worth being prepared. Our Cheap Breakdown Cover guide has full info on insurance, but preventing a breakdown in the first place is better than waiting for rescue.
Here are six tips to prep your motor before the cold weather sets in:
If you only use your car a couple of times a month, it might be worth flogging your wheels and joining a car club, which can be MoneySaving and PlanetSaving.
We've heard some decent success stories, such as Peter's. He said: "It's a revolution! @ZipcarUK flex to Heathrow Airport this morning. Right outside my house to the airport in under an hour – £15!"
These clubs claim to be a cost-effective way to drive, as they remove your insurance, fuel, breakdown and maintenance costs. The fees can add up, however, as firms often charge annual/monthly membership fees, plus a hire fee each time you want to use a car. Some also charge extra fees per mile you drive.
As a rule of thumb, car clubs are best for those who use them infrequently, and make short journeys each time.
Some of the car clubs operating in the UK are listed below. The basic concept is similar with each – sign up and you can reserve one of a number of cars dotted around your city in special parking spots. Usually you'll need to return the car to the same spot, but some sites also offer one-way rentals.
Warning: We haven't had a lot of feedback on these companies, so please make sure you read all the terms and conditions, and check you're happy with the level of cover before deciding whether to try one. Please let us know about your experiences (good or bad) in the forum.
A UK driving licence is currently accepted throughout the European Union, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and when the UK leaves the EU on Friday 31 January, that will remain the case for the rest of this year. But next year, there will be new requirements - see our Brexit guide for more info.
If you're planning a road trip further afield, check if you'll need an international driving permit (IDP). See the Check if you need an extra permit advice for full details, but here's the key info.
An IDP is required or recommended in about 140 countries, including the USA, Thailand and India. Drive without one where it's needed and you risk trouble with the authorities, and may be refused a hire car.
It's in booklet format and there are two types, known as the 1926 and 1949 Conventions (they're the same price). Which you'll need depends on where you're off to.
Beware websites selling 'international driving licences' – these aren't legally recognised documents, so don't get caught out.
Holiday car hire can save a hefty whack on taxis to and from the airport, and can be invaluable if you're on a family getaway. If you're definitely going to need it (see below for alternatives), make sure you book the right way.
Find full details of current deals and tips 'n' tricks in the Cheap Car Hire guide. Here are the key points:
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Fuel price rises can be a painful addition to motoring costs. But some basic maintenance can help put the brakes on your fuel bill.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Thanks to the RAC for the efficiency data. See Make your Car More Fuel-Efficient for more.
If you're a smoker, then you need to be aware of the law. Since October 2015, anyone in England and Wales, whether a driver or passenger, who smokes in a private vehicle with someone aged 17 or under inside could face a fine.
If caught, the person smoking faces a £50 fine – and if they're a passenger, the driver will be fined £50 too. This is quite apart from the fact smoking is both extremely unhealthy and mega expensive.
This also applies to caravans, motorhomes and campervans when they're being used as a vehicle with the engine on, but not when they're being used as accommodation.
The Scottish Government brought in a similar law in December 2016, which means drivers can be fined £100, and Northern Ireland Assembly members have also voted to introduce a ban, although there is no set start date yet.
You can smoke if you're 16 (though you can only buy cigarettes if you're at least 18). If you're under 18 and driving alone, you won't be fined for smoking. If driving with others aged 17 or under, you'll be fined.
If you're a passenger under 18 and you're smoking, both you and the driver could be fined (even if the driver’s also under 18).
It doesn't matter. The law applies even if you have the windows open, the sunroof open, the air conditioning on, whatever.
You are exempt from these rules if the top is down and fully reclined.
Even if the engine is off and the doors are open, you could still be fined.
Supermarkets often run petrol promotions. As their forecourts are usually cheap for fuel (always check though), these schemes mean you can make some decent savings.
The offers are usually something like 'spend £50 and get a 5p off/litre voucher'. Recent offers have also included 10p off/litre via a single voucher with a £50 spend.
Keep an eye on Cheap Petrol & Diesel for fuel promotions and info on using supermarket loyalty schemes. The best petrol & diesel deals are always in the free weekly Money Tips Email, so sign up to hear about them first.
If you don't mind putting in the legwork, it's possible to make hefty savings on parts by sourcing them yourself. Before getting your motor repaired, ask for separate quotes for fitting and parts, and check if they'd mind just fitting the part if you can find it.
Get the exact details, including name, type and size, and see if you can buy it yourself for less. Forumites recommend eBay* for cheap car parts, as well as calling suppliers and factories and comparing prices online – the Amazon* car and motorbike section's worth a look. Here are a few forum success stories for inspiration:
My 2001 Ford Focus only came with one working remote key. I bought two fobs from eBay for £20 each and got a locksmith to supply and cut new blades and programme the remotes. Total cost was £140 for two new keys, as opposed to £200+ quoted from a Ford dealer.
My car needs new CV joints. Quote including labour is £945.41. After my eyes stopped watering, I told them I'd get back to them after I'd had a look for a better price. I've just gone to a local independent and got a quote of £150-180 all in. I'll be saving nearly £800.
Is your car still under warranty? If so, the AA's told us in most cases repairs will be carried out for free. But if you choose to have the car serviced outside the dealer network, the garage must use parts that match the original specification to avoid invalidating the warranty.
If you're considered high-risk, adding a second driver to the insurance – even if they won't use the car often – can smooth out the average risk and reduce the cost.
Those with a record for driving well are likely to help make bigger savings (so if your friend's driving is more Mr T than Driving Miss Daisy, this probably won't work), but adding anyone that's in a lower risk category can help. It won't work every time, but it's worth checking.
Warning! Don't confuse this with 'fronting', which is illegal. Never add your name as main driver on someone else's car, such as one of your kids'. This is called 'fronting' and it's fraud. When you claim, this'll often be checked out and the insurance will be invalid if you're caught. It can also lead to prosecution. Don't do it.
Ever wondered what 'blip' markings on kerbs mean, or if a quick trip to get change is allowed? These are just some of the key points in the How to Park Right guide.
Parking tickets aren't just irritating, they're hideously expensive. Plus, they may take months to reverse, so arm yourself with the mythbusting Five parking facts everyone should know (if you know others who often get ticketed, pass 'em on):
There's no standard 'single yellow' parking restriction. You can sometimes park on a single red or yellow line, but there aren't standardised times. Always check the road signs.
Watch your wheels. Ensure your car's completely within any defined spot, such as a residents' or pay-and-display bay. If one wheel's outside, you risk a ticket.
Proudly display your permit or ticket. If you've a special permit (such as a residents' or disabled permit), a warden must be able to clearly read it otherwise you'll often get a ticket. The same goes for pay-and-display tickets.
Bank holiday rules vary by council. Many wrongly assume they can park anywhere on bank hols. Some councils allow parking in residents' bays or on a yellow line, others won't. There's no hard and fast rule; if unsure, don't do it.
Beware EVERYTHING in private car parks. Rules change on private land or in private car parks – whether at supermarkets, hospitals or elsewhere. You can be asked to pay huge amounts without reason, so check signs and be cautious.
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As they've a captive audience, motorway services are rarely MoneySaving. Knowing drivers are unlikely to leave the motorway, they often charge a premium for food, drink, fuel and even parking. To show how bad it can be, we've spotted unleaded costing 12p/litre more than the UK average – but it can be even worse. For example, MSE Jo once paid almost £9 for a 24-pack of nappies which usually costs £5.
However, by using the website JustOffJunction, you can go off-piste in confidence. The site lists 5,000 places to eat, rehydrate, sleep and refuel that are just off motorway junctions, where it's all likely to be cheaper.
While we haven't been able to check every recommendation, those we have are up-to-date. The site could be tricky to use on a phone, so is best used at home when planning your journey. It's a newish site for us, so if you've any feedback on it please let us know.
If you live in a city, near an airport or train station, or anywhere where parking's pricey, your driveway might just be paved with gold. Rent out a parking space and you could make £200 a month or more.
Here's a quick tip, but you can find more, plus a list of the big parking sites to try and what to watch out for, in the Rent Your Parking Space guide.
Quickly find what yours is worth. To get an idea of what you might be able to make, clever online tools can give quick estimates. You can see what those nearby are charging for long-term stays (eg, a month) with ParkLet's price guide tool.
Parking tickets from supermarkets, housing estates or other private car parks do better impressions than Alistair McGowan. Some are dressed up like fines, they can even be called Parking Charge Notices to mimic council Penalty Charge Notices. Don't be fooled, they're just invoices.
If a ticket's slapped on your windscreen and you think it's unfair (eg, no signage), there are ways you can challenge it.
With some of the biggest firms you can also appeal to one of two independent bodies – a huge 52% of the 57,703 cases that completed the process with one of them, Popla, between 1 Oct 2016 and 30 Sept 2017 were won by motorists. Find full info in our Fight Unfair Private Parking Tickets guide.
New tyres can be pricey, but it's essential to make sure you keep them above the 1.6mm legal minimum tread depth to let surface water slip through.
To measure, use the quick 20p tyre test detailed on the TyreSafe website. Pop a 20p coin on its edge into the main grooves of the tyre tread. If the outer rim of the coin is hidden, your tyres are legal. If you can see it, get them changed.
Don't just go for the first quote you get. You can make big savings by ringing round local garages for the cheapest quote on the ones you want, then see if you can lower the price further by haggling it down.
This can make a big difference to the price, particularly if you're replacing more than one tyre. Here's a success story from the forums for inspiration:
I rang around and then asked Kwik Fit to price match – got my two tyres down from £165 per tyre to £128 fitted, tracked and balanced.
As well as haggling, you can also save on tyres by putting in some leg work online. It's not for everyone, but if you're happy you understand the measurements you could give this a try.
Should I get premium tyres? The AA's told us a driver changing all four tyres for AA-grade tyres, doing 9,000 miles a year with a fuel consumption of 30mpg, could save about £130 on fuel a year. However, as AA-grade tyres are generally pricier, weigh up any extra cost carefully before shelling out.
If you're a Tesco shopper, hoard your Clubcard points and you can use them to get cheap breakdown cover.
How does it work? Spend Tesco Clubcard vouchers on goods or services listed in its Clubcard Boost brochure and you get back three times their face value.
Which policies can I get? One of the deals offered is an RAC roadside recovery policy, meaning you can sometimes get it at about a third of the high street cost. Not all the usual packages are available – see the Tesco Clubcard RAC table for the range on offer.
For every year you don't claim on your insurance you get a discount, which can make a big difference to costs. If you claim, you usually lose two years off this discount – a deliberate tactic to encourage you not to claim.
You can get a protected no-claims discount so claims don't impact the discount. Some schemes also offer an accelerated no-claims bonus, eg, giving a year's bonus after 10 months, such as Admiral's Bonus Accelerator. See Why do No-Claims Discounts Need to be Protected?
Beware price rises. Remember, if you have an accident, even if you don't claim, in order to keep your no-claims discount, you should report it, otherwise you risk invalidating your insurance.
As a result, the price of the policy can still rise. Having a discount is one thing, but if you're seen as more of a risk (which happens when you have an accident) the price is still likely to rise, because this is a separate calculation insurers make when determining costs.
When it comes to insurance quotes, tweaking a job title could save serious cash. Insurers base prices on risk assessments, and your occupation plays an important part.
This isn't about claiming you're a lollipop lady when you work as a stunt driver. But done responsibly, this can really help to lower your policy cost.
When considering using a different job title, always imagine how a reasonable person would describe what you do for a living. Would they say it's reasonable for you to use that job title?
To help, we've built a fun Car Insurance Job Picker tool to show the riskiest jobs and see if small tweaks to your job description could save cash. For example, someone paying £500 a year for car insurance listed as 'builder' could knock off around £30 by tweaking it to 'contractor'.
Here's a success story from MoneySaver @fabsternation on Twitter for inspiration:
I did this too thanks to @MartinSLewis from creative director to marketing manager = saved £300+ Crazy world isn't it?
With insurance, remember the golden rule:
Tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
If you've read these tips and thought, "It's easy to lie", you're right. Yet lying on your insurance form is fraud. It can lead to your insurance being invalid and, in the worst case, a criminal prosecution for driving without insurance. Don't do it.
In rural or suburban areas, you can usually park for free outside busy parts of town where there are no road markings. But you can't just park anywhere that's unmarked.
Here are some basic rules to remember:
Whether you've a banger or a Bentley, your car needs an MOT when it's three years old (four years in NI), then once a year after. Yet timing is crucial.
Get a test in the month before the current certificate ends – the new one will expire exactly a year from the original's end date (the earliest date you can do this is printed on your current test certificate).
But get it tested more than a month before the MOT's due and it'll expire exactly a year later, meaning you lose out.
Always book tests in advance if your certificate's run out. If your car's out of certification, you can drive it to the test centre provided the test's been booked. Plus, if it fails the test, to get the problems fixed you're allowed to drive it from the test station to a repair centre. However, the vehicle still must meet a certain standard of roadworthiness, otherwise you can be fined. See the Cheap MOTs guide for more.
Whether you've a flashy new convertible or a trusty old banger, there's no need to pay £100s for breakdown cover. See Breakdown Cover Best Buys for the latest cashback deals and top pick roadside recovery policies.
You'll also find full info on the different types of policies to make sure you choose the right cover, as well as specialist policies, safety tips and more.
Know where to look and you can get a basic policy for £23 after cashback, or fully comp cover for £60.
If you're in the market for a set of wheels, first check out our 19 Tips for Buying a Used Car and 20+ Tips for Buying a New Car guides.
Whether a new or used runaround, saving up for it's best. Yet if you need to borrow, plan a budget to ensure affordable repayments, don't overcommit and do it the cheapest way. For help, see our Cheap Personal Car Loans guide.
Don't assume you're covered if you're taking your car to the continent. Make sure you set off fully prepared.
We've a full guide to Driving in Europe, with all the key things to check, including equipment, insurance, breakdown cover, speed limits, emissions stickers and more.
It's often said airports make more from parking and shopping than flights. Leave the car at one without booking first and you risk sky-high rates, but a quick comparison can nearly halve the cost.
The Cheap Airport Parking guide has full listings of the latest discounts which can help to hammer down your quote. It also has forum discussions for each airport to help uncover hidden local discounts.
Don't just turn up at the airport. Booking first, even on the day of your flight, could save money.
Before you book car hire, don't forget to consider the alternatives. Unnecessary car hire can be an expensive, unused hindrance. Car swaps, public transport or taking your own car can work out cheaper, depending on where you're going.
Go through this checklist first:
If you're on two wheels, finding cheap insurance isn't always an easy ride. Our Cheap Motorbike Insurance guide has a step-by-step system to help find the cheapest cover for your needs, with tips on security, mileage, no claims and more.
Some big name insurers tend to think motorbike, moped and scooter insurance is risky and steer clear. So lesser-known companies cover the market instead.
But it's still possible to save £100s on cover, if you know where to look. While many of the methods to save are similar to car insurance, there are a few issues that are specifically for motorbike and scooter cover:
If you drive to work, buy monthly car parking with one of the big chains or pay over the odds for your regular Saturday football space, you might be able to halve costs by renting a private space. Plus you can get a rough idea of savings in seconds.
Try ParkLet's price guide tool, which lets you search for guideline UK parking prices on a map. Just drag the area of the map you'd like to park in under the 'X'. You'll only find the best average prices ParkLet can offer, so even if the saving's good, use it as a benchmark to beat.
Once armed with ParkLet's best price, compare it with those on Just Park*, Your Parking Space and Park On My Drive. If you're willing to do a bit more digging about, you could also try Gumtree. See Find a cheaper space and halve parking costs for full info and safety tips.
Security's a potential downside to parking privately, especially if you've a flashy motor, so always check this out.
If you're driving a long way – or even if it's a route you know well – it's worth using a sat-nav.
Obviously, a sat-nav can stop you getting lost, but it can help you even if you know where you're going. How? Because most sat-navs give you real-time updates, meaning you can avoid traffic jams, roadworks, accidents, fugitive sheep etc. And that can mean less time on the road, which means you're burning less fuel and making fewer costly service station stops. Plus if you've kids, crucially it means less "Are we there yet?"
You don't actually need to buy a sat-nav to do this though – if you've a smartphone, there are loads of free apps you can download to turn it into one. The best of these include Google Maps (Android, iOS), Here WeGo (Android, iOS) and Waze (Android, iOS) – all of which include real-time traffic updates.
Just be aware that using a sat-nav app on your phone while in the car will eat into your mobile data. Make sure you have enough or you could be automatically charged for more. Also, remember it's illegal to use a mobile while driving – get a phone holder if you're going to use yours as a sat-nav, or risk a fine of up to £1,000.
No, we don't advocate swigging the stuff – it's a challenge on the MSE Forum, where MoneySavers share tips to cut their fuel spend.
It's free to join in, open to all, and has loads of handy tips to help you reduce your fuel usage and so spend less. See the Petrol/Diesel Cost Diet Challenge discussion to find ideas and share your thoughts.
It's about pain-free, speedy ways to make your car and driving more efficient – and put you back in control of your fuel bill.
A quick way to reduce your fuel bill (and carbon emissions) is simply to drive less. No, we don't mean hiring a chauffeur – try sharing journeys with other drivers.
You can do it the old-fashioned way and ask friends, family, neighbours and colleagues if they're gonna go your way. Or you could try a dedicated car-sharing site, which lets you find or offer lifts.
For example, Natalia tweeted: "So chuffed to get a ride share sorted with @BlaBlaCar back from Cornwall. Not only has it saved me £30 on the pricey train fare but we're having such interesting discussions on the journey. Winner!"
It's worth noting, these sites aren't designed to help drivers make a profit. They're for cost sharing (and in fact, you could invalidate your car insurance by making a profit). Each site suggests a passenger contribution based on the length of the journey, plus other factors such as wear and tear. Drivers can adjust this, but only within a limited range.
The sites below help connect you to others planning the same journey (though always think about safety when booking a trip). It's free to sign up – the only payments you'll make are to share your journey costs with the others in the car.
The sites store details securely, but when it comes to travelling it's important to be vigilant. Arrange to meet in a public place, let friends or relatives know what you're doing and check other people's IDs to ensure they are who they say they are.
As Liftshare says: "You're never under obligation to take a lift. If you don't feel comfortable, don't go through with the lift – even if it's been agreed."
If you're giving a lift to someone and asking for a contribution towards fuel costs, the Association of British Insurers says that provided there's no element of profit, your car insurance is unlikely to be affected. But to be sure, check with your provider first.
There's a mass of motoring goodies available for free at the click of a mouse. Visit the Travel and Motoring section of the Freebies, Freebies, Freebies guide for goodies including maps, practice theory tests and car stickers.
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Whether your van's used for removals, family holidays or work, as with car insurance, it's possible to save hundreds by switching.
Though many of the issues are the same as for car owners, there are important issues that are specific to vans. There's a full list and cost-cutting system in the Cheap Van Insurance guide – here's a taster:
Public transport may be a more MoneySaving alternative to driving, particularly if your once-economical motor is now a fuel-guzzling monster. And there are easy ways to cut costs even further.
Train and bus companies often discount heavily with regular sales to fill seats. Deals have included £1 UK train and bus tickets, and London to Scotland for under £20. See Cheap Train & Coach Deals for the latest.
Cheap train and coach ticket offers go quick. To hear about them as soon as they're released, sign up to the free weekly email.
Alternatively, get your skates on (or your trainers, rollerblades or unicycle) if it's a short journey. Going by foot's a far healthier alternative, and it's MoneySaving too.
OK, it's a radical thought, and it's not right for everyone. But if your motor costs a fortune, it's worth considering: do you really need it? Or if you have two cars, do you need them both?
Think how much you would get from selling it, how much you'd save on insurance, tax, fuel and repairs compared to the cost of getting public transport.
Not only would it save you money, you'd be doing your bit for the environment. See the forum discussion on other people's experiences of selling their motor.
Ever fancied yourself as a dab hand under the bonnet? Well, why pay for basic repairs and car maintenance when you could do them yourself? The time and effort spent learning how to fix and look after your car could also prevent more serious problems down the line, saving you even more dosh.
Of course, if you're in doubt then seek professional advice, but if you're keen to learn for yourself then check with your local council, as well as nearby colleges, to see if they're running any cheap car maintenance courses. For instance, City of Westminster College runs a 10-week evening course in DIY Car Maintenance three times a year that costs £425. Use Findcourses to find lessons in your area.
You can also search online for tips, information and guides on how to look after your motor. The Useful Motoring Websites forum thread has a long list of helpful sites to visit, while the Car Maintenance Tips thread has a huge amount of information on fixing common car complaints.
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