Cutting the cost of your car

It now costs around £7,000 a year to own and run a car - that's 27% of your annual income!(1)

Petrol prices are also slowly on the rise again meaning the cost of running a car could rise too

Cutting back the cost of your car is a great way to save money and luckily there are actually LOADS of ways to cut the cost of motoring...


Need to know

  • The biggest way to cut the cost of your car is to make sure you never auto-renew your car insurance and shop around every year for a better deal
  • Research out last year said that 8.2 million(2) drivers had auto-renewed their car insurance in the last 12 months –wasting up to £220 a year(3)
  • When you take out your car insurance, play with the variables to cut your premium even more
  • Shopping around for your petrol COULD save you significant amounts throughout the year. Sometimes there can be a difference of around 5 pence per litre between different forecourts
  • Look out for supermarket offers – spending £50 in store and receiving 5p off a litre is ALWAYS worth doing 
  • Liftsharing companies are still relatively new, but could be right up your street (pun intended!). say that the average saving is £800 a year!(4)
  • If you spend a fortune on parking, try who can give you information on parking charges in the area (including free street parking)
  • Have a look at your Council’s MOT test centre. You MAY find they work out cheaper as they are not attached to a garage and so are less likely to find unnecessary faults. You can find them by Googling your local council and MOT test centre eg. ‘Banbury MOT Centre’.

Black box technology

  • Some insurers now offer Black Box technology (also called telematics) to reward good drivers by lowering premiums by, on average, 25%(5)
  • Black box insurance works by having a small device (about the size of an iPhone) fitted into your car, usually just below the dashboard. You will need a professional to install it and it can take around an hour and a half
  • Watch out - some insurers will charge you for having the black box fitted so check this when you are comparing deals
  • The device records your speed, distance travelled, number of journeys, time of day or night you drive, type of roads driven on and even how much you brake or how you handle corners. It is designed to build up a full picture of you as a driver to assess the likelihood of you having an accident or breaking the law
  • If you are viewed to be a good driver (this usually means driving fewer miles on dangerous roads, not driving too much at night and not breaking the speed limit) then you can achieve lower premiums
  • Many black box providers charge premiums on a monthly basis so that they can be adjusted to reward good drivers or punish bad
  • There are a number of specialist telematics providers but most of the big insurers are also offering black boxes now too
  • However it is important to shop around if you want a black box as each insurer will have slightly different 'rules' and limits on peak-time driving and what they will charge per mile
  • Black box technology is GREAT for people who have high premiums - young drivers, new drivers, people with penalty points or drivers who have previously been banned. This is because an insurer will assume that you are high risk and charge you a high premium but a black box gives you the opportunity to prove that you are a safe driver and deserve a lower premium
  • Once you have proved that you are a good driver, an insurer could then reward you with 'bonus miles' so that you can drive longer distances without being punished by a higher premium
  • We think black box technology COULD be brilliant (especially for young drivers) but you have to play by the rules.  We suggest testing yourself first with a FREE smartphone app.  Aviva do a great app that allows you to see whether a black box is for YOU

Petrol costs

Why we like it:

  • FREE sign up
  • Daily updates
  • Weekly email alerts for your area
  • Tools and widgets to help you save
  • Good app whilst on the go

Watch out:

  • Need to register to get information
  • Some postcodes aren't recognised

Journey Price Calculator

Why we like it:

  • Calculates the cost of your journey
  • Really easy to use
  • Allows you to decide whether public transport is cheaper per journey
  • Covers Europe
  • Lots of other good info on website

Watch out:

  • Helps to know the petrol price in your area first

Morrisons Fuel Saver card

Why we like it:

  • Gives you money off fuel at Morrisons when you buy gift cards instore
  • For every £10 gift card you buy at Morrisons, they will give you a Fuel Saver coupon worth 1p off every litre of fuel, £30 gets 3p off a litre and £60 gets you 6p off etc.
  • Large stock of gift cards for different shops

Watch out:

  • Only valid at Morrisons petrol stations

Santander 123 credit card

Why we like it:

  • Offers 3% cashback at petrol stations
  • 0% for 23 months on purchases

Watch out:

  • 16.5% APR
  • petrol cashback limited to £300 spend per month
  • £24 annual fee after first year

Representative Example: representative 16.5% APR (variable) if you spend £1,200 at 12.7% annual purchase rate (variable): includes £24 annual fee


Why we like it:

  • FREE to join
  • Matches you up with people making the same journey as you
  • 400,000 members

Watch out:

  • You are responsible for your own personal security
  • You need to confirm personal details with your companion yourself

Bla Bla Car

Why we like it:

  • More suitable for one-off journeys
  • Helps you calculate journey prices
  • Members have detailed profiles so you can travel with similar companions
  • You can even filter results by type of car!
  • Only real identities can be used
  • Ratings system for members
  • Ladies only facility

Watch out:

  • Some level of personal common sense has to come into play on security and car safety as vehicles are not vetted

The inside track

  • HOW you drive can SAVE a fortune. By changing your driving habits you could save HUNDREDS of pounds every year
  • The AA put 50 of its own employees through an economy driving programme, and on average they saved 10% on their fuel bills, with the best saving 33% with the biggest culprit being over-revving, especially before changing gear. Stopping accelerating and braking unnecessarily is the place you can SAVE the most(6)
  • The faster you go the greater the fuel consumption and pollution. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than driving at 60mph, and up to 15% more than at 50mph.(7)
  • You can improve fuel consumption by up to 2% if you regularly check and maintain tyre pressures(8)
  • Turn your air con off – this is a BIG saver – up to 10% more efficient(9)
  • Keep your car as light as possible – clean it out, take the trailer off etc
  • As a rule of thumb, if you drive more than 16,000 miles a year diesels can be cheaper than petrol models – but they are also more expensive to fix when things go wrong.
  • If you drive less than 5,000 miles a year and only need a car occasionally, then you should consider joining a car clubZipcar charges an annual fee of £59.50 and then weekday rates start at £6 an hour or £54 for 24 hours, but with higher weekend rates and City Car does a similar offering but charges you 23p per mile.


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